Thursday, September 11, 2008

Community Is Where You Find It

Anyone who has spent significant time on the Internet knows how strong bonds can form among people who have never met face to face. I remember my first experience with it, on Genie. A group of women, who came together originally to discuss writing, became so enmeshed in each other's lives that we all felt as connected as sisters. When we actually met in person at a retreat, it was as if we'd known each other for years.

Sometimes this magical thing happens, and sometimes it doesn't; I've been a member of countless e-mail loops, forums and bulletin boards, most of which were friendly and cordial, but that was it.

Recently, however, I had one of these virtual "sisterhoods" spring up almost overnight, and very unexpectedly. It was on an online marketplace where I sell my crafts and vintage items. The site has a forum, and I was invited to play a promotional game there where you "Buy 'n' Replace"--You buy an item to get on the list, then someone buys an item from you and kicks you off the list, and it all plays out on a forum thread. I've done them before. Usually it lasts for a couple of days then peters out.

This one, however, was different. From the beginning, instead of advertising our own shops, we started promoting each other. Then we started sharing bits and pieces of our lives, and within two or three days this forum became this vibrant THING with a life of its own. The generosity and warmth exuded by these women (oh, and one man!) is so genuine I can't stay away from it. I feel so completely loved there. At one point, this cute baby dress crocheted by one woman inspired another woman to decide to have a baby! Seriously! (It was a big group hug, nauseatingly mushy, and I'm already thinking how I can turn this into a book!)

Most people say the Internet has turned us into a nation of impersonal mouse clickers, where face-to-face exchanges are no longer necessary. But I think in some ways the Internet has made connections easier. Community is where you find it! Doesn't have to be a blood family or a building or a town. It's wherever people share with each other openly and generously.


Estella said...

There are a couple of blogs I visit that have this feel.

Kara Lennox said...


Oh, yes, blogs too!

Dorana said...

thank you for being SUCH an important part of our little etsy family! who knew you could find friendships and family through some keys and a lit screen!

siempre - dorana

Megan Kelly said...

Kara, please let us know when you write the book about the woman who decided to have a baby based on the crocheted dress! What a cute motivator. Then she's got to find the guy to do it...and so on and so on... :)