Virtually Community

It seems that since I was able to access the Internet, I have been involved in one virtual community or another. Initially it was a *very* small community of IRL friends who gathered in an AOL chatroom to play a traditional role-playing game over the Internet.

Later, I dabbled briefly in a few chat groups through our college “dataphones” which allowed a text-only interface.

I was very intimidated by chatrooms, which are so hard to read and follow. I wasn’t a very fast typist back then, and always felt like, by the time I composed my response, that the group had moved on.

After college, I discovered the vast and sprawling Harry Potter community through a variety of websites, such as The Leaky Cauldron for news and information, and Sugar Quill for fanfiction. Even though I had user names on both of those sites (and many others) I was essentially a consumer: reading what others had posted and occasionally commenting, but never offering my own work or information.

The only online community to which I was ever a contributor was for a brief time when I was creating pixel art. I was part of a forum where artist would post their work and others would comment on it. My pixel period was not very prolific, however, and I soon left that community.

In the few online communities I belong to now, I never seem to get past the lurker stage. may be interested in greater involvement, but either don’t feel worthy or don’t know how.”  The part about not feeling worthy really resonates with me. Who am I to comment on whatever topic may be at hand. I’m content to just listen to the experts and absorb.

Now that I have my own blog, however, I have been force to put myself a bit more “out there.”  I may not be an expert, but really, how many of the members of my online communities really are experts? We’re all just folks trying to make a connection in a big world that keeps getting smaller.

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1 Comment

  1. Ana Diaz (Li berry Pie) said,

    October 7, 2008 at 12:30 am

    I agree with you. I think sometimes we get confused when we see these communities online where we are supposed to learn something and we think that the people chatting on them are somehow experts. I think we forget the idea of learning as a collaborative process and not just one person teaching everyone else.


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