One of the first travel writers I followed on Examiner and on twitter was Pauline Dolinski. On twitter she was Travelspauline and she was the History and Landmarks Travel Examiner on Examiner.com. I was a big fan of her column being a history major in college and of course a fan of travel.
When I branched out with Traveling Ted TV last year, Pauline was one of my first subscribers. When you begin a new travel blog your early subscribers and comments are precious especially when they are written by someone other than good friend or your mom. In fact, Pauline wrote my second comment. The first was written by the Downtown Traveler.
Recently, Pauline stopped commenting on my articles. I thought nothing of it at first, but a growing concern lurked in my conscious as I remembered she mentioned in a previous email that she was recovering from cancer. I kept thinking about emailing her, but I never did. Perhaps I knew in the back of my mind what her disappearance from twitter, writing, and commenting met, and I did not want to confront reality.
A couple of days ago, I responded to a group email from some Examiners that she was on. I got an auto response from her email simply stating “Pauline Dolinski passed away on April 27, 2011.”
This really saddened me and put me in a funk for several days. Not only did I lose a reader, but I also lost a virtual friend. I never met Pauline face-to-face, but I could tell from her articles, her comments, her retweets that she was a very sweet supportive person.
You would think never having met someone it would not matter much hearing that they have passed. Although online virtual relationships are not as strong as face-to-face ones, they are relationships nonetheless. With every article you share, with every tweet, with every new mode of social media you follow someone with you are forging a bond with an avatar, which represents another human being. Even if you have never met this person when this tie is broken there is a sense of loss.
When twitter first came on the scene and travelers first started sharing their experiences and forging a community, Pauline was one of the vanguards. She was honored in the 101 adventure travel twitters you should follow for her efforts.
She was definitely a talented writer. One of my favorite articles was a debate on which state produced the most presidents. This article was so impressive it was even mentioned in a scholarly piece written by a University of Virginia student.
She was also an accomplished world traveler. I wrote a piece for a local adventure travel guide company about Kruger National park in South Africa. She faithfully commented on her own experiences there. Many of her comments were reminisces from her own travels, so it was obvious she was very well traveled. A visit to her Yahoo contributors page proves this point as she traveled to 60 countries.
Whether you are a blogger like myself, on twitter, or just a person surfing the net, the internet has become a huge part of our lives. Some may call it trivial and not real, but the fact that I am saddened by the loss of a virtual friend proves it is not. Friendships and relationships online may not have the validity of real life encounters, but they do have merit.
Pauline, I never met you, but I will never forget you. May you travel peacefully in your next journey.
If you had any contact with Pauline or Travels Pauline as she was known on twitter please share them in the comment box. Even if you did not know Pauline perhaps you have lost a virtual friend and would like to share your thoughts and experiences.
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