Don't throw them out with the social media bathwater
This was a great post, John. I'm glad I found it on Notes. You say that your writing is the better for Substack's existence, but I suspect that Substack is also better for your writing and presence. Thank you.
I love this John, and admire the ways you're creating, engaging, and thinking about community. I recall Katherine May writing a while back about who community is for--how it can be insidious when it's not of your own choosing, e.g., when you live in a neighborhood or small town and your actions are watched and if you have a disability or don't look the right way, or simply don't like to engage you can be treated with derision. I think the ways we build and find and connect with others needs to be part of the conversation about community, and I love that this piece highlights that. 💜
I have become so social media adverse that I never considered other online communities. Honestly, even Notes has been a mental challenge for me that I hope to overcome! Your post cracked a door for me. As a writer (both here on Substack and in the form of fiction books), I’ve wanted but struggled to find my online place, away from the likes of FB, Insta and X. Now, I have a new perspective. Thank you!
I’m part of an online writing community Story Republic, that grew out of Bernadette Jiwa’s Story Skills Workshop. Its a practice space, with a community feel. People come and go with the rhythms of their lives, and a lot of my participation is asynchronous because of time zones, but I get to meet wonderful writers from Canada, USA, UK and Europe, people with diverse backgrounds I won’t come across day to day here in Melbourne - especially since I don’t get out much. And when I do have an occasional bout of insomnia, I can join a zoom and watch people practicing sharing their stories. Precious connections.
I totally agree. It's easy to dismiss social media but I've seen so many lonely people take comfort from online contact.
I agree that we shouldn’t give up our online communities! I’m part of a small group that were in an online program together and wanted to stay in touch. We meet twice a month and are always saying how glad we are that we stuck together. We are in US, Canada, UK, and Germany. I love that the internet allows for connection with folks across the world. I appreciate being exposed to perspectives that are outside of my bubble.
While I'm currently pretty burned out on social media, I'm in a couple of really good groups on Facebook, full of people I've known online for over 20 years.
And I met my husband in an AOL chat room in 1996.
My brother and I 🫀emoji one another.:) As for community, the Unfixed community was the first place a really felt held, heard and could reciprocate. All online. All from the comfort of our own bedtimes and bedrooms. This has been very freeing for bodies and nervous systems that sometimes get all jacked up in the company and stimulation of too many people, too many ideas. Substack, similarly, feels like a gentle hug that I can receive and share, when inspired.
I'm so glad you took that class! TON does very good work. I've let my National Association of Science Writers membership lapse, but Siri is active in that organization and I have to say it's among the best writing organization I've ever been a part of. I think there's a lot of movement between NASW and TON.
My original writing group started meeting online in something like 2013 or earlier, way before Covid, on Google Hangouts. We are geographically scattered and are still meeting -- tonight, in fact! -- and I've only ever met two of the other members in person. My other writing group is all science writers and we have a little Slack group where we talk and workshop and troubleshoot. I would be sad to give up either of these groups.
I’m finding a lovely community here on Substack. I think the challenge is finding people in the first place when there’s so much choice and so many social media channels and posts fighting for our attention.
Love your view on leadership, by the way. 30-year-old me could have done with that insight!
I have a pretty strong community on FB still, so I stay there, also to keep in touch with family and friends from other places around the country. I do love the community on Substack. It reminds a lot of the community of political bloggers I was involved with before Twitter and Facebook.