Growing up before the age of the Internet, I can truly appreciate the wonderful
information and opportunities presented to me there. Surely, I could not have
become the jazz aficionado I am today. There are no record stores in little
Pocola, Oklahoma, where I grew up, that have even the slightest mention of
One of the many important phenomena brought about by the Internet is the
formation of virtual communities. As recently as seven or eight years ago, it
seems that much of what I heard was negative; there were so many warnings
about unsavory characters. While some of those reports or fears were well-
founded, most persons today realize that those are the exceptions rather than
the rule, resulting in a boom in virtual community participation. There are
many who are still new to this whole phenomenon, though. As an
experienced participant in virtual communities and one who has had my life
enhanced significantly through the connections I have made therein, I would
like to share a little of my wisdom.
The Internet is surely a network that has become an extension of the bigger
network called Synchronicity. To be enriched by our connection with it–
just as is the case with the Universe itself–we must be open and aware.
When initially viewing someone’s profile, think about the vibe that it puts
out. Look at the interests: the books, movies, films, etc. Is it obvious that
this persons has a passion for things or just goes along with what everyone
else likes? Read the blurb, the “about me.” Is the person unnecessarily
self-depreciating, or do they express positivity about self? Look at the
photos. What is the setting of the photos? What is the person radiating
in these images? Find a blog whose title might suggest some greater
insight into the person and the way they think and feel.
Then take the next step. Write to the person. Don’t just click on the “Add
to Friends” button. I have seen many a person on virtual communities with
hundreds or even thousands of friends and I know for a fact that they do
not keep up with all those folks; they are merely “friend” collectors. Your
initial message should be succinct and positive, leaving some anticipation
for response and inquiry. After becoming a friend, leave comments on
blogs or photos. Let the person know that you look at his or her profile and
are interested in who he or she is.
Unfortunately, many persons in the world today just want to sit at home
and connect with others on a mere virtual level. This is missing the whole
point of virtual communities. While it is true that geographic distances
and time constraints of the daily affairs of life may limit the ability of
meeting everyone we connect with, make it your aim to meet the person
in the flesh. You may want to take the step of real time online chatting
or talking on the phone first. When you open up your soul and perceive
that someone can enhance your experience of life on this planet, do not
hesitate to connect in a more human way.
The most exciting new advancement in virtual communities is the local
virtual community. In this regard, we are truly blessed to have something
like the Locals Guide in our area. I believe that it is a forerunner of
bigger (smaller) better things. Now we can learn more about people in
our actual community and know that we can actually cross paths with
these people in our own town. We can hear the music of local bands
and be incited to hear them live. We can learn about local clubs and
groups and then actually go and share the light of our human energy
force with these people. We can hear podcasts of neighbors and then
converse with them in person on the street.
My whole journey to this amazing town of Ashland and my joyful everyday
existence here with my fiancee Mandy was a result of learning how to
connect through virtual communities and moving beyond the virtual.
Since I have been here, I have already made scores of amazing friends,
most of whom I connected with initially through the Internet. I now live
in a town with great record stores. They even have Cecil Taylor.