About a year ago, I was your typical internet user -- visited the occasional website, watched the occasional funny cat video, sent the occasional email. And I had mastered cut-and-paste!
But then, last Christmas, I was in a large van with my whole family -- we were on the way to see The Lion King -- and my three-and-a-half year old nephew was playing with his mother's iPhone. Suddenly he yelled out to the driver, "Look out, there's a big curve coming up!" I thought he'd been playing a game on the iPhone, but he was actually following the car's route on the phone's GPS system.
I was dumbfounded -- this kid is three!
Well, that was it for me. The next day, I went out and bought an iPhone (and eventually an iPad) and now I'm plugged in, booted up, Twittered, Facebooked and YouTubed.
But my sudden entry into the digital world has been about more than just keeping up with my nephew. For the last 30 years, I've had a continuing conversation with women, through books, television and magazines, but I've always felt that I lived somewhere behind a one-way mirror, where they got to look through it at me, but I never got to look back.
Then I realized that the way to preserve the passion and power of this connection, but to have it as a true dialogue -- a two-way conversation -- would be to turn to the Internet.
So two weeks ago, I launched my own website, and Facebook and Twitter pages. We're still in the early days, but I'm already discovering there's a lively world of women out there who have a lot to say -- and we're talking every day.
These women aren't fading into theirs sunsets, or drifting aimlessly, or souring like milk with a "use by" expiration date. They are vibrant, passionate and, in some cases, wistful for the days when our generation marched, protested and fought for our beliefs.
I remember those days well. We were a generation of women who struggled for women's equality, rallied to end the Vietnam War, and joined hands in the fight for Civil Rights and gay rights. Those kinds of convictions don't simply evaporate with age -- which is why I was so moved when a woman named Tracy made a particularly passionate comment on my Facebook page. She was responding to a video I'd posted of Bette Midler and me, talking about how important it is to keep dreaming.
"I loved this," Tracy wrote," and I loved your comment about the Baby Boomer generation having so much to give and not being done yet. I have often wondered where all of the movers and shakers went. It seemed like such an energetic, 'can do' generation of people, willing to put themselves out there to inspire the changes they wanted to see, and to make the dreams they shared a reality."
Tracy's words stopped me in my tracks. They reminded me of that great quote by Thoreau: "None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm."
Not all the comments on my site have been about political activism. I was very moved to witness two women who'd never met share a common bond about their recently deceased mothers, and about the example that their moms had set for both of them.
And during a live video chat, I was touched by a woman named Sara, who was asking for advice after her divorce.
"I really don't have any 'girl friends,'" she wrote. "I'm a 'low key' person. I was in a 'verbal/mental' abusive marriage. I have a few friends left, but not any who would do dinners out. Any thoughts?"
I felt so saddened by Sara's words, and I tried to write a reply that let her know that she wasn't alone. I hope my answer helped a little, but even more important was that she was reaching out.
My online life can also be fun and funny. Two days ago, I shared the story about how my Lebanese father, Danny Thomas, would let my high school boyfriend know it was time to leave our house by putting on a blaring record of John Philip Sousa music. (His message was clear: "March!") I told this anecdote online because it's in my new book, and it always seems to get a laugh. But to my surprise, it inspired a rousing debate about Dads. Which ones were tougher on their daughters' dates -- the Lebanese, the Italian, or the Jewish fathers? I think I won this one.
All of the spirited conversations we've been having -- and everyone's willingness to reveal real feelings and to connect -- brought me back to the last part of Tracy's observation about the women of our generation.
"The spirit kind of fizzled," she wrote, "and we desperately need it back! Wouldn't it be great if this was the beginning of something wonderful? If anyone can do it, the Baby Boomer women can!"
I know I am an optimist. I have always been one, and I am not done dreaming. I have a feeling that there are a whole lot of women out there like me -- and Tracy, and Sara, and all of the women who have become my new friends (and not just in the Facebook definition of the word). I believe we all have the power to create a new dream that could be the beginning of something wonderful.
I hope you'll come by and visit me at MarloThomas.com. I can't wait to meet you.
Marlo Thomas is an actor, author -- her new book "Growing Up Laughing" will appear on the NY Times best seller list next Sunday-- and National Outreach Director for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. You can find her at www.marlothomas.com at facebook.com/marlothomas or @marlo_thomas on Twitter.