building community in the digital age


This post is sponsored by Chase – a strong supporter of the Global Cities Initiative
Last week I had the chance to attend the Global Cities Initiative in Los Angeles. This is a five year initiative to equip cities to strengthen their local economy through research in exports, foreign investment, and immigration policy.  It is bringing together local and international leaders to expand global reach, based on best practice and policy intervention around the world.  There was an emphasis on the importance of education for all people, as well as the benefits of globalization for both those in the first and third world.  It was right up my alley.

While the benefits of globalization have a positive effect on businesses and economy, I couldn’t help but think about how globalization has improved my personal life as well.  The new digital age that we are living means that we have access to building digital communities with people from all over the world.  This accessibility has expanded my worldview and made me feel a part of a broader community of moms. I have never had that sense of isolation as a mom that I heard my mother’s generation talk about. Despite the fact that some days I don’t ever make it out of my pj’s, I still feel like I get to do a little socializing every night on facebook. When my kids go down for a nap, I can catch up on my reader to see what my friends are doing, or relate to an anecdote from someone else in a similar lifestage. I can blog about my worries about overscheduling, or my disdain for kindergarten homework, or my inability to remember my assigned snack day in the classroom, and the comments often feel like my very own community of women, propping me up and guiding me along the journey.

It has also been a huge blessing for me to develop a digital community of other adoptive moms.  If I were confined to friendships that were only geographically close, I would only have a handful of friends with families that look like mine.   Thanks to my online communities, though, I have made so many friends I cherish, who I can turn to for support.  I may not see them every day, but I know they are out there, and I get to keep up with them on facebook and twitter and through emails in the wee hours.

I’ve also loved how I’ve been able to be a part of the blogging community.  Writing can be a very isolating job.  We don’t have a water cooler or a conference room where we can catch up with coworkers during a break.  Most writers work alone, and it’s easy to feel alienated from the outside world.  I’ve also found it difficult as someone whose job is “online”, because so few people really understand what I do.  I love that I’ve made connections with other bloggers . . . many of them moms, and many of them struggling with the same work-balance, boundaries, and type-A tendencies that I deal with.  I can’t imagine doing what I do without having a group of women I’ve come to be close with to lean on for support and understanding.

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I love that the digital community has allowed me to connect with other people who I can relate to, and I know this is true for others as well.  I’ve talked with friends who have found so much solace in finding groups of people online who relate to their own unique lifestage that they probably wouldn’t have found in their local community . . . for everything from parenting a child with Down Syndrome to living with diabetes.

Do you feel like you’ve built a digital community?  Are there certain aspects of your life that you find supported through people you’ve met online that may not have been met by people in your local community?


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