As we have become so well-acquainted with our own four walls these last few months, I'm certain that you're all hankering to get out and about. Truth be told, the minute we experience the general behaviour of the people in our home towns or the horrendous drivers on our roads, we'll be wishing we were elsewhere. Some things never change.
With social media so prevalent in our lives, we are turning towards online communities as a refuge from the chaos of the big, wide world. Guaranteed if you have a certain hobby, ailment, interest or phobia, there is a group just waiting for you to join. And that is the beauty of the internet - you will find your perfect stranger somewhere.
As a firm believer in preparing for whatever life throws at you, I truly believe that networking online - treated with caution and safety - can be a real benefit. These are often people that have no knowledge of your background and will withhold judgement based on your previous actions. When you have small issues or queries this community can give you their most unbiased opinions and support when you most need it.
Connecting with other people across the world may also spark new interests for you. Exposing yourself to different cultures - albeit virtually - might inspire you to travel to new places after lock down. Joining a new batch of Facebook groups could simply just make you some new friends. You never know what you might find. The key is knowing where to look and what to search for.
Find fellow writers
One great way to escape from reality is to create your own. Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be a boss at grammar, smooth with your words or even know how to spell properly to enjoy a bit of creative writing, you just need to be engrossed in the world you are developing at your fingertips. Crafting and cultivating your own fictional community will give you the desired break from all the chaos.
As well as finding your characters in the fictional world, there are plenty of like-minded folk who share the same passions online. From creative writing classes on Facebook to online platforms and discussions, there is a major writing community out there eager to enjoy your fictional journey. Idyllic Endeavour is a perfect example of such a platform.
With a generous selection of posts put online weekly, Idyllic Endeavour is a site set to bring everyone together through the creative medium, especially during a pandemic. The diversity of posts means there is certain to be a topic that appeals to your taste. And even if you fancy your hand at some writing, Idyllic Endeavour can give you a place to share your work and prompt conversation throughout the creative communities.
It is obvious that we are living in unprecedented times and experiencing things we never dreamed we would have to deal with. However, there has been a ray of light throughout this pandemic thanks to all the people that have come together.
If you are interested in writing, or anything creative, and would like to join this community, then head over to IdyllicEndeavour.com and click on the Get Involved page. While you are there, why not take a look around and drop a comment to get the conversations flowing.
Get Involved URL: https://idyllicendeavour.com/get-involved/
Train with people thousands of miles away
Missing out on the gym? Missing your workout buddies? There is no need to fear. If you're a gym junkie, then you've probably already found your fix by now, and don't need me to tell you where to look. However, if you use content produced by your personal trainer, or follow exercises created by YouTubers, then you may not know that they have communities and followings online.
Most trainers you find on YouTube will produce a huge amount of content for free and will only receive money based on the ads they show on their channels. However, if you search for groups on Facebook or find their handle on Instagram, you may locate even more content, tips or meal plans that they have produced. And all they require in return is a like, subscribe and comment every now and again. These are no-brainers if you are tight on money and need easy access to some exercise.
However, not all instructors or PTs have the luxury of making money based on engagement. If you know someone personally that is self-employed in the world of fitness and hasn't been able to retain their regular client base, for obvious reasons, then showing interest in their virtual classes may work well for both parties. If you think about it, you may end up helping them to create a community as well as prospective clients.
Even if you're a beginner, or simply interested in starting the activity, you will find that these groups are amongst the most nurturing of places. Immersing yourself amongst like-minded people will also make you feel a little more whole than before. If you find a great meme of a cat doing yoga, share it on the group and they'll likely enjoy it more than those on your friends list. If you have alignment issues when squatting, then video yourself and ask the group for feedback. You're unlikely to be met with any form of animosity; instead you'll find a fantastic support network that encourages you to keep going.
Indulge yourself in body positivity
Lockdown has taught me to be more understanding of my body. It has taught me that my self-care and self-love is far more important than my appearance and other people's opinions of me. The troubling thing is that after sixteen years I have finally had this revelation. And this isn't an uncommon problem either. Luckily, there are hoards of individuals that have had the same epiphany and now look to help others.
A quick search on the social accounts and you'll start to locate the right groups. You may be shocked by this truth - these groups are not dominated by super models in gorgeous bikinis - these groups are filled with men and women of all shapes and sizes. Aside from the posts you might expect - transformations, healthy recipes, weight management tools - there are some real golden nuggets to be found. The banter, memes and motivational quotes are the first to make you feel at home. Next, the variety of recipes, both for weight-loss as well as energy, will have you inspired to try new dishes. Finally, the perspectives and testimonies from the members will have you realising that you are simply perfect the way you are.
As long as you are sensible, know how to treat your body right or are willing to learn, these hidden gems are ideal for engaging yourself into a more positive mindset. Some members will also have joined because they are yearning for some clarity on their lifestyle and are seeking solidarity. Let's face it, surrounding yourself with positive thinkers who look after one another is a beautiful position to be in.
Locate a group for your favourite game
If you're a natural gamer then staying at home during the pandemic has probably not been so much of a shock for you. In fact, you most likely have a brilliant smug expression on your face after all the moaning and nagging from parents or partners about your habit. Truthfully, you have probably been some of the more content during lockdown; I know that I have.
Whether you have one favourite game, or like to dabble across different ones, you'll find online communities for any game you play. YouTube is a great way to find fellow gamers. Similar streaming services, like Twitch, can also help you unite with some online pals.
One of my favourite things about joining the online groups is seeing the fan fiction and art work created by members. Nothing beats seeing the mountainous landscape of Skyrim painted onto a fresh canvas, or the Dragonborn-inspired tattoos. The groups also dish out a little banter so be sure you can take it if you post, obviously anything more serious is removed and admins become involved. But harmless arguments about playing in vanilla mode or debating between the consoles and PC will have you chuckling away.
If one of your favourite things to do is game, then why not share the experience with people online too? So many online gamers take pride in recording their gaming sessions as well. Not only can their commentary be comical, but they may actually be solving a super difficult quest mission that you have spent ages trying to work out.
Sometimes these groups will allude to quests you've never completed before or new mods you need to try. It is the most satisfying feeling when these groups also query missions that you are an expert in and can relay your method of completing it. Not only do you get something out of the group but you can give something too.
Have an irrational fear? Suffering from an illness or disability? Coping with loss? Find a support group
By far these are one of the best online groups I have ever joined. As someone with an incredibly rare phobia, I only ever heard whispers about people who suffered the same anxieties as me. It wasn't until I googled the phobia, consequently finding out its Latin name, that I actually realised that the problem was much larger than I thought. Once I knew the technical name for it, I started to get suggestions come through on my Facebook on groups to join. Then I found mine.
As a group of people, these are probably the safest to be around. Whether your phobia triggers you emotionally, or makes you feel sick and uneasy as mine does, the members tread around the subject lightly. In reality, it's like you're all sitting around a metaphorical bonfire sharing stories about when your phobia started and what coping mechanisms you have in place to combat it. It's a super nice feeling knowing that there are people in the world who have the exact same quirks as you!
Phobias are not the only support groups that you can find online. From medical conditions, illness and disease support to grief and loss groups, these online communities are absolutely vital to us. Often, especially when you suffer an illness or disease, loneliness can set in quickly, particularly when you are restricted from going outside or are in the middle of a pandemic as we are now. Sharing your story, or reviewing other people's stories, gives you a sense of togetherness that, although you may be unable to see others outside your household, you can still connect online. Breaking such barriers, and finding people online, can be a small step in combating feeling alone.
If your main source of communication at the moment is via the internet, Facebook, Instagram or any other socials, then you really have nothing to lose. Start researching the groups to join, see if there are any forums or blogs online that recommend any to become a part of and start making some new friends.
Overall, as the year starts to draw to a close and the threat of more lockdowns becomes apparent, it's clear that our online communities will become a source of hope for us. Whatever you are looking for, whether it be some respite about your anxiety or eagerness to find awesome gamer artwork, these groups serve as a vital part of our online experience now. With a group to focus on just about anything, it is unlikely that we will stop confiding with others online.
Make sure you are yourself. It's an obvious statement to make, but important nonetheless. Acting as a catfish in these groups can not only be detrimental to what you receive from the group, but it can also really affect others. The more of yourself you give - as long as it's validated - the more you will receive in turn from your fellow group members.
The possibilities are endless with online communities. The weird and the wonderful will be out there if you need them. Just like face to face friends, there could be someone out there who is ready to change your world for the better.
Morals of the online community story:
There is a group for anything - if there's not then make one
Talk, type or text - a friend is a friend
Don't be afraid to explore new groups, especially where you think you may be alone
You will be amazed at the responses you'll get