Online Communities vs. Real-Life Communities

We are lucky to live in such an exciting world. With instant communication through our phones and computers, we can be in touch with like-minded souls the world over with just the tap of a keyboard. If you have an unusual hobby or like a very narrowly defined thing, chances are you can find a like-minded group online and through social media. Whether it is crafting your own cigar box banjos, reading medieval poetry, breeding tulips, or any number of things, there is an internet community waiting for you.

While this month we have been talking about getting out from behind your screen to make real-life connections, we also wanted to endorse bringing on-screen connections into your real life. Online groups are a wonderful way to expand all facets of your world.

Let us share an example. Shortly after getting a home internet connection for her computer, Gail joined a forum for people who were fans of a TV show she watched as a child. The website was very active and Gail enjoyed making friends on the site. After a while, another member who lived in the same area suggested that those who lived nearby get together and watch the old show together. They set a time and date and made it a potluck. Gail, extremely nervous about meeting these “friends” in the real-world, almost didn’t go. She really did enjoy the online company of some the people she had met online, so she decided to go for it. She took her famous enchiladas and arrived on the doorstep of a person she’d never seen before, but talked to all the time.

The party was a success. A number of people showed up, some with their families or significant others and some on their own. The party was awkward to start off with, but once they put on the TV show they all loved, the mood become more relaxed. Everyone had a great time reminiscing about their favorite parts or repeating their favorite lines. Gail was so glad that she had put aside her fears to meet these people in person.

That first party led to more parties and soon Gail had a half-a-dozen new “real-life” friends.

Connecting online doesn’t mean you can’t connect in the real world. The best part about our hyper-connected world is that there is more opportunity to meet the people you “click” with, creating real bonds both online and offline.