It seems like an anomaly to discuss online community building when we all should be spending less time online in general. Yet here I am, ready to extol the positive aspects of online community, and indeed list its many benefits.
I’m in the midst of a busy season of life, what with general living, working a full-time job, trying to start a side business, keeping up with relationships, communicating, networking…you get the idea. We are all in the same boat, yes? When that happens, my spiritual life can take a hit. Who has time for anything but quickie spellwork? I gulp my coffee, light a candle, and sort of do something, feeling vaguely unsatisfied, and yet I move onward.
Then yesterday, a friend sent a Facebook request for me to join an online group. Who the heck has time for that? Yet it was about following the witch path, and I was intrigued. I will take a look, and then leave, I told myself…Nope, I stayed. Stayed because the group is full of wise and wonderful people, and they were posting ideas that got me excited about possibility. Different ways of working in your Book of Shadows, books they recommended, all sorts of inspirational ideas. I need more things to do like…really, I don’t. I am sure this all sounds familiar.
It got me thinking of my general online routine, and why online community is important. I am fortunate enough to live in an area where I have community in person, and I am very thankful for that. Yet I know many who do not. Facebook, while at times exasperating, has always been a clearinghouse for me in terms of keeping all my friends together in one easy place. They are all over the world, and I remain every thankful for a way to keep in touch that is quick and easy.
I also have online friendships with people whom I’ve never met, yet are as important to me as the ones in my day-to-day life. They are amazing and lovely people who support me and have been there for me through some very tough times. I recognize it may not be an easy process for some people, as they are rightfully suspicious of online people (are they real? is this a scam?) but I’ve been fortunate in navigating that myself without any scamming.
So why is online community important? For the following reasons:
Inspiration: I can’t tell you how many times an Instagram post has inspired me aesthetically and artistically. When I am feeling exhausted, I ask what’s the point, I’m not that special, who cares about my stuff? I look at Instagram and get inspired all over again. I am a visual learner, so that is why I focus there. Someone’s post can literally change the course of my thinking and the day. Recently, I discovered a UK witch whose posts literally made me swoon, and set a resolve to get more creative with my altars. On the days I feel like why should I try, a person will message me telling me the same thing. That I inspired them, or they felt better seeing my post. THAT Is why I do what I do. Maybe I will never be (insert big time/big name person here), but I can make a difference to someone, as someone has for me, and so on. Feeling that I helped someone is my modus operandi, and it feeds my soul. If it does the same for you, you will understand why this is important.
Feeling less alone: Ever feel like the lone weirdo who likes seemingly strange things and thinks no one else ever will? Every time I feel that way, I find someone and gasp: “You, too?! I thought I was the only one.” I’m not, and neither are you. What is better than feeling blue in the middle of the night, and you click on a post of someone who likes the same obscure thing you do? Priceless, I tell you. Not to mention the benefits of worldwide friends and time zones, you literally can communicate at all hours. With me sometimes being a night owl, it has been beneficial.
Networking: I am a happy networker. I love connecting people with similar interests, I love meeting people and discovering their special gifts, and I love learning about people’s life choices in general. What is hilarious is that I am an extreme introvert, but networking has always energized me. Making connections, whether for myself or others is what makes me tick, and I love being part of a network of creative, inspiring people. We all help each other in some way, whether it be more business, an outlet for our creativity, or just sharing knowledge that someone may not have seen. That is my main benefit of networking, so see if that works for you.
It helps me focus: This seems like another anomaly, and it is. Knowing what’s out there and how I can improve myself strangely helps me focus. Sure, there are some days I get overwhelmed, but we are human, and we have those days. I make lists, I adjust my vision, and I focus. Not to copy others, but because I am inspired by them. It helps me hone in on my vision of what I want to achieve.
Life is short: Life is short, and I am telling you to spend MORE time on social media? No, not at all, Make choices. It is easy to while away the day, scrolling through. We all have those days. I am talking about scrolling with a purpose. Arrange your feed so you see what’s important and inspiring to you (like this blog, ahem) and get rid of the extra nonsense. If arguing over politics energizes you, have at it. If you are trying to get your creative self out there, then politics is not going to help with that. We are in control of our time and energies (for the most part) so focus on what brings you joy, and keep that in your back pocket on those days when errands and life events threaten to overwhelm you.
Make the effort: Community will not magically come to you. You have to make the effort. So this requires interaction, a wee bit of vulnerability (okay, sometimes a lot) and being a bit friendly. If you are angry all the time, I get it, but not exactly conducive to being part of a community (unless you start your own community of angry people, so please go ahead). Don’t substitute an online community for flesh and blood friends, but you can enjoy a community online that enhances your life and brightens your day.
By the way, if you read my blog regularly, you are already part of my own community. Your comments inspire me to continue onward, and I hope I have inspired you with sharing my practices. Let’s keep this going, shall we?