Much is said about the evils of social media, the amount of time wasted scrolling feeds, the propaganda from all sides, and the opportunists who seem to find every chance they can to fleece someone out of their hard earned money.

But sometimes social media can be a force for good, or at least friendship, in the real world.

Over the past couple of years, I have found myself in the middle of a great group of women who get together on the web to share more than the latest tweets, or to catch up on the daily news. We have a little discussion group, and have more than our political outlooks on politics in common, even if our geographical locations couldn’t be more diverse.

We usually talk throughout the day, passing along news, advice, opinions, recipes, child-rearing tales and so much more.

We joke about how following politics religiously requires a strong constitution and a love of day drinking to cope with the news cycle. We share DIY projects and inspire each other to spruce up our homes. We encourage each other, celebrate our idiosyncrasies and laugh at all kinds of silliness. It’s a place to vent, free from drama, about whatever is driving us crazy… whether it is a congressman or our home’s co-habitants.

Like pen pals of yesteryear we become friends, without ever meeting in person, although, talks of meet-ups and get-togethers have come up regularly.

Well, life sometimes provides the opportunities that normally might not arise under normal circumstances.

One of the girls found out a few weeks ago her dad needed surgery, and with the timing of everything flying was out of the equation. Her drive home was going to be passing through my corner of Tennessee, so a quick plan was hatched for a stop-over at my house on the drive there to break up the trip, and an extended two-night stay on the way back, with a couple other girlfriends who are within a half day’s drive to meet up at my house to get together.

To be honest, Vince thought I might have lost my mind… just a little. He asked more than once if I was sure about who I was bringing into our home. As a side note, one of the hubby’s requested his wife have a safe phrase to text him in case of emergency so he could call the local police in case we turned out to be crazy. Little did she know!!!

Also, I will never text the words “Wow! It’s colder here!” without breaking into hilarious laughter.

In all seriousness, it is good to be cautious. Thankfully, emergency calls were not necessary, and we all sat around the kitchen table laughing and talking smack about all the same things we do on Twitter, just in person.

It’s fun! I haven’t ventured too far out into the community yet. I just have been enjoying my little slice of life, and adjusting to a new speed and culture. I took the girls around Monday to sight-see just a little. We drove around the University of Tennessee, Martin campus, through the downtown with it’s historic charm and even prettier window displays, around past the kids’ schools and through the countryside. It reminded me so much of why Vince and I fell in love with this small town in western Tennessee in the first place.

Connecting with the real people behind the profile pictures was a wonderful change of pace, and a reminder that even with the vastness and anonymity of the world wide web, we are all closer than we can imagine.

So Tuesday brought big news for the Democratic Primary. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont officially entered the race for 2020, promptly racking up over a million views of his announcement video and raising over $1 million in four hours. For an already overly-crowded primary field, Bernie will look once again play spoiler to a bunch of politicians who have been trying to out-socialist their opponents.

It seems Bernie is starting back right where he left off in 2016… and this primary looks to give the Democrats as many headaches as the Republicans had last time around.

Staff columnist Toni Butero can be reached at tbutero@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 862-2222.