Finding Your People
When I was a kid, it certainly wasn't cool to be a geek or a nerd. It was a name that people called you to try to make you feel bad and make them feel better. Some geeks/nerds tried to hide their intelligence or kept their geeky interests and pastimes to themselves. A handful were "cool" enough to be slightly geeky and still be popular. But most of us were just teased relentlessly.
Fast forward 20 years to the birth of the internet. Well, not really the birth, but the birth of what we think of when we think of the internet. Using it for shopping, paying bills, communicating with friends and family, and, possibly best of all, finding your people. And, all of a sudden, the geeks are becoming more important, more valued. The geeks have inherited the Earth!
Being a geek with an unusual mix of interests and knowledge makes it hard to find people similar to me in a small geographic area, especially in a town as small as Prescott. I have found a handful of really precious friends with whom I have one or more things in common. But online I have found many many many more. When you expand your search to include anyone in the world with internet access who speaks English, your pool from which to draw friends and associates deepens greatly.
Being a core contributor to Wired Magazine's GeekDad blog has helped me to meet plenty of new people, but it has been up to me to turn those contacts into true friends and reliable business associates. I have found my people, and they're (mostly) on the internet.
The whole idea of Web 2.0 is to use the internet as a social conduit. I think that's been quite successful. From Twitter to Facebook to Digg to countless forums (no one seems to say fora), we've found groups of people that understand us, finally. To make the most of this, though, you don't need to be a geek like I am. You can be an outdoorsy person, a religious person, a military person, a cooking person, or anything else. For each interest you have, there are probably dozens of places online to help you find your people.
Note: Realize here, though, that I'm not suggesting segregation of any kind. But life is exciting when we can find people with the same kinds of interests that we have, people who will finally understand us. People who are on the same journey in life, or at least share the same road for a while. This kind of emotional and practical support is very important in our personal growth.
How have you used the internet to find new communities?