Editor’s Note: Going Offline
As an entrepreneur and a new mom, the online communities I’ve joined are often my saving grace – in some cases, the members know more about me than my own family.
Raise your hand if you’re more than a little tired of social media. You can’t see me, but I’m flailing both of my hands around in the air.
The internet helps pay for the roof over my family’s head. It puts food on our table and gas in my tank. I love the freedom and diversity it’s created in publishing – RUBY never would have happened in the old days – and how easy it’s made keeping up with people around the world.
And while I enjoy scrolling through inspirational Instagram feeds and poring over my friends’ baby photos, what I love most about social media is the community it’s helped me build. I found most of RUBY’s writers in a Facebook group. The mom friends I’ve made online have helped me troubleshoot everything from my kid’s sleep problems to work issues.
Like every good relationship, though, the internet and I sometimes need a break; time apart to forget the other’s misdeeds and learn to appreciate the goodness again. Especially lately, given all the negativity and news on how our social media usage was played against us here in the U.S., I find myself cutting the cord for longer periods of time.
It’s not just the negativity and the frightening information on hacks and bots, though. It’s the fact that I crave more of this community offline. More in-person connection with people who can relate, people who can open my mind up to new ways of thought, people who can take difficult conversations off the web and have them face-to-face.
But here’s where the internet wins again: Many of the groups that are building connections for people in real life, particularly among women, started online. Now they’re taking these opportunities for bonding, networking and learning back to their neighbors’ homes, to their churches or to their neighborhood wine bars.
I’m definitely in support of this trend. It’s much easier to make real-life connections once you’ve already built a foundation of trust and intimacy online. We’re profiling just a few of the many (many!) online women’s groups building communities in real life here: