Before I dig into this any further I want to make it known that the question I am about to pose is IN NO WAY intended as an insult to anyone on these or other forums. I've just been doing a lot of thinking about this issue and wanted to see what others' ideas are.
Why do you belong to, and spend the amount of time you do, on one or multiple forums?
I'll give you my honest and blunt answer.
Although I've been known to have a whacky sense of humor and found it very easy to carry on a conversation with almost anyone when I was younger, especially a kid, the older I get I find that I don't necessarily "fit in" to any particular social settings and I've gotten quite a bit more reserved and withdrawn as I've gotten older. I have one friend with whom I talk to on the phone and visit with face-to-face maybe only 5 or 6 times a year; we live 40 miles apart, she has her family, I have mine, and we both lead otherwise busy "household" lives.
A few years ago when I joined Cat Forum I was initially looking for a place "to belong" where I could talk with others who shared my love for cats. As my time here grew, I really fell away from cat discussion and enjoyed conversing about other everyday things that some of us share in common. Belonging to an internet forum makes me feel like I have dozens of friends all over the place and "takes me away," if you will, from reality. Another thing is that it's nice for me to not leave the comforts of home to talk with others and I don't have to worry about keeping up appearances to see other people.
However, joining Cat Forum took a lot of guts for me to do. I read posts for quite some time before I got up the nerve to actually join. I've been invited to other forums and have tried some of them but it's my reserved nature and uncomfortableness with getting to know new people that has kept me from "belonging" anywhere else.
Having said all that, I do miss personal interaction with "the girls." My maid of honor's husband is in the military and is now stationed in Italy until sometime in 2011 or 2012, the relationship with my longtime childhood friend fell apart as we got older and I just don't really talk to anyone else except for my husband, kids and my mom.
Working from home also prevents the little bit of social interaction I used to have with co-workers in the office.
I was tickled pink when Jeanie found the knitting video for me so I could "self-teach" knitting again but I wish I had the resources in this area to actually join a knitting group. There really is no such thing around here. My church group does get together once a week to quilt (the finished product gets donated to the poor) but all of those women are elderly. I don't mean to sound callus, but I'm only 33 (almost 34) and really would like to find something for my age.
For now, my little bit of personal contact with others is when we attend church (which we tend to be lax on during the summer
) and taking the kids to the park, etc. I'm really hoping that as the kids begin school they become involved in other extracurricular things that allows me to meet some other classmates' parents, etc., and I end up finding something else to do besides veg out in front of my computer or watching TV. I enjoy talking with all of you about tons of things but I feel isolated at the same time.
OK, now that I finally got to the guts to post this, I'd better get back to work. That's the BIG downside of working at home and having access to the Internet at the same time. My mind tends to shift focus throughout the day and my productivity decreases.
Please share your thoughts on this question.