Thursday, 10 August 2017

Online Friendships and Communities

Whilst it's important to be mindful of the internet and what goes on it, I  thought I would write about online friendships and the value they can have in your life.

When you have never found making friends easy, are different for whatever reason and don't quite fit in with your peers, or face difficulties or challenges in your day to day life, the internet can help you connect with others either with similar interests, values or challenges you might be going through.

When people see I've met others through the internet it can often puzzle them  as to how the internet can bring people together.  If my boyfriend and I are asked how we met and we say, "the internet," people assume internet dating, and when we say "through shared music," therefore it can often bring some  interesting looks. It's scary to think without the internet I would never have met my boyfriend or some of my closest friends.

For many the internet can be a lifeline, it can offer peer support including concerning mental health. Online chats and blog sharing can be helpful learning of others experiences. I'm grateful for the chats I've had from people from the mental health community, thank you for being supportive. Charities such as: Mind and Time to Change do amazing work.

The Dyspraxia Foundation offers a youth Facebook group and other online communities for those with the condition. Although awareness is on the rise, it is still poorly understood and many people still don't know others who are dyspraxic in their day to day lives. It gives people the chance to share  experiences with others who understand in a safe place.

Then there can be online communities for music,  for people to connect with others with similar passions and find a sense of escapism. As my boyfriend once said, "pop bands don't last forever, but the memories, and friendships pull through." Music and the people I've met through it have helped me a lot in life.

I can come across as quiet due to my social anxiety, until I feel comfortable with someone or a situation and feel relaxed enough to bring my protective walls down. I'm grateful the internet has given me the chance to find some people who have taken the time to get to know me.

From a social anxiety perspective I can find it hard in social situations to relaxed enough to let myself go. I know for many with anxiety we can struggle to relax and live in the moment, which I discussed in my last blog. Friend and fellow blogger Anxiwarrior has written this great blog about laughter. I hope in time that side of me comes out more. Grateful for those who try and help that side of me come out.

The little words of encouragement or a listening ear and people believing in meu when I have been struggling with my anxiety or going through difficult times in life have meant a lot to me. Thanks for understanding also if I take a while to reply sometimes. Being able to talk to people who don't judge means more than I can put into words.

The internet isn't always easy, it's important to be careful and stay safe. It only gives a snapshot of who people are in their daily lives. But it can also offer a platform for raising awareness of important  and help make a difference to them. Being able to make a difference to causes close to my heart and helping others has helped me give back.

Going through what I have has made me appreciate the people in it and the little things and grow as a person  I hope you know who you are and how much you mean to me.

Having people you connect with who live a long way from you, can be difficult, can make saying goodbye even more so, but the time spent together cherished.

Until next time....

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