Using the Internet to Find Your Community
The process of finding your community has changed a lot since the internet came into being. It used to be that we'd have to head out in our actual physical community and attempt to find the people with the same interests as us. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. If it didn't work, you could feel very isolated. When the internet came along, we could find and connect with people that shared those interests from all around the world. When Sophie Morgan found herself wanting to find out more about the community she was interested in, she turned to the internet. In Diary of a Submissive she writes:
"For all that there are people that moan about the internet being full of fantasists who to hide behind their computer screen and not try anything out in real life, for me it was a great place to start -- somewhere that felt safe and gave me a chance to explore some of my fantasies and think through some of my feeling in an utterly secure, nonjudgemental environment." Page 50
I think that many of us -- being the bloggers that we are -- can identify with what Sophie says. While I remember a time when I didn't interact with a large chunk of my community through my computer, I can certainly say that my life is the richer for the internet. The internet has allowed me to move through phases and interests in my life, sometimes with more freedom than my local community would allow. It's allowed me to grow. It surprises some people, especially those that have not known me very long or who only read my book blog, that I actually started out on the internet as a foodie. People often associate me with books but the truth is, I've been talking about books online for only seven years, as opposed to the fourteen years I've been talking about food.
The internet gave me a safe place to talk about relocation and potential career shifts with people who were not invested in my not doing either of those things. I've worked through relationship issues. I've shared funny stories. I've shared sad stories. When I lived with roommates that weren't exactly ideal, the internet provided an escape and place where I could just be me with people yelling or being mean. The internet has allowed me to stay in touch with friends that now live far away. It's also allowed me to make friends with people I likely never, ever would have met otherwise. I've stayed in those people's houses and they have stayed in mine.
I've also seen my friends turn to the internet to find their communities. Maybe they found their fellow television show fans. Or other people dealing with infertility or loss. I've seen friends turn to the internet for the support that they could not find in their own friends and communities.
Sophie is no different from us in that aspect. She turned online to find her community, explore her interests and gained some confidence along the way.
How has finding your online community changed your life?