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The internet has certainly made daily life a little easier, but has it made life better? Has it made life more fulfilling?
Sure, you can get a relatively reliable weather report the minute you wake up. You can see if traffic is going to be a problem before you get on the interstate. And you can keep track of the score of the game—even while you're at dinner with your in-laws (we won't tell if you won't).
But can the internet really bring us closer together? Aside from letting your mom comment on all your vacation photos?
We'd like to argue: yes, it can.
Have you ever considered using the internet to find your own community? It's actually easier than you'd think. Enthusiasts of all kinds and geeks of all varieties will happily fill you in on a little secret; if there's something you're excited about—no matter how obscure—there's an online community celebrating it. From knitting to knife-making, woodworking to weathervanes (probably, anyway), there's an online community that will welcome you in. They'll share their knowledge, and make you feel at home sharing the finer points of how to crochet a sweater for your chihuahua or how to bake a perfect lemon meringue pie.
The first step to building your community online is to find a topic or a hobby that you're interested in. Then search out the communities online that discuss this subject, and join the ones that seem the most interesting and inviting. In some instances, you can use your Facebook profile to sign up for a new community, so you won't even have to remember a new username and password!
For example; there are fan clubs for basically every TV show ever at this point. Whether you loved “24”, but were lukewarm on “24: Legacy”, or you're more a “Seinfeld” kinda fan, there's a community reliving all those memorable moments. You just need to find them and join in. Sign up, create a username and profile, or just join an existing fan club on Facebook. If you're hooked on a brand-new TV show, you might even want to start your own Facebook fan page and invite other people to join.
You'll find communities devoted to your favorite pastimes on every social media platform, and there's almost always a blog or two with a lively comments section where you can join the conversation.
Health and fitness communities can help you reach your goals with loads of friendly encouragement when you need it. Whether you want to lose weight, or are looking for support during a difficult treatment or recovery, there's a community online with members who have been through it all before. You don't have to walk these difficult roads alone. Reach out, and you'll be sure to find someone willing to listen.
Gamers are another group, one of many, who know the joy of finding their tribe. Most of these groups meet, at least initially, online. Fidelity employees live and work in small towns and rural communities, too. There's nothing quite like the thrill of meeting other people who share your interests, but we don't all have the time or the room in our budgets to travel to conventions or meet-ups just for fun.
So why not join a group online? Most communities are free to join. You can comment and make friends at your own speed. Just be friendly and polite, and pipe up when you have something interesting to share, the same you would at a get-together or networking event in real life.
Once you get to know a few folks, and you've built a few relationships, you can keep building your community by asking if they know of any other online spots where you can hang out with people who share your interests.
You can also create networks yourself by watching who interacts with who, and following or connecting with experts and digital creators. Usually, experts and digital innovators are having some of the most interesting, most exciting conversations online—watch who they interact with to get a good sense for who is in the community you want to join.
You'll probably find that most of your interests are represented online. Building your community means taking part in the conversations around these various topics. Dive into whatever interests you most; there's almost always someone out there you can share a good conversation with.
Bringing people together is what the internet is all about. It might seem scary or intimidating, but it isn't—not really. And if you don't want to connect immediately, you can always just see what other people are saying. Read the comments sections, watch the videos, follow people on social media. When you feel ready you can join in, but it's important to know that there are people like you out there, interested in the same things. The internet gives you the freedom to explore and make new connections. Why not reach out and take a chance? Build your own community today!