In the age of Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter it is possible to drastically enlarge your social circle and meet dozens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of people that you would never usually have the chance to meet. But if you just communicate with these people online and never venture out to actually meet them in person; it is still possible to suffer social isolation.
As a middle aged, never married woman, I can see how many in my position could easily slip into social isolation. Most people have husbands or wives and children and grandchildren to fill their social circle. But if you don’t have a husband or wife, and have don’t have any children, life can be very lonely unless you make a conscious decision to do something about it.
Let me just say here that when I say “do something about it”, I am not about to give dating advice and tell you how to meet a spouse or significant other. (There are countless other websites and books that can give you advice in that area, if that is all that you are looking for.) I am talking about how to develop those tenuous online relationships into actual face to face friendships. And if you happen to meet someone special while developing these friendships, well then that’s just gravy.
About four years ago I moved from New Jersey to Atlanta (where I knew no one), and in doing so isolated myself from all of my old friends. After spending several weekends and holidays alone and lonely, I decided that it was time for me to get over my shyness and go meet some people so that I could get on with enjoying my life.
The first thing that I did was look online for a local church that seemed to fit my beliefs and lifestyle. In the age of internet, most large churches stream or videotape their services so it’s easy to “visit” a church online first before taking the next step of actually visiting them in person. I for one am eternally grateful for this technical advancement, as I can’t tell you how many churches I have visited in person to only to end up leaving mid-service upon finding that their beliefs were not compatible with mine.
Once you have pre-screened a church by viewing their online services, and are in agreement with what they teach and believe there, go visit them in person, and then get involved. The best move that I have made since I moved to Atlanta was to join the choir at my church. I like to sing (even though I am no Patti Labelle), and thought that this would be a great way to meet people who I have something in common with. I was right. Four years later, these people have become some of my best friends, and I would definitely be at a loss if I had never met them.
One way that my relationship with them developed into something more than just meeting on Sundays, is that we are all friends on Facebook and Twitter. The Pastor, his wife, the Choir Director, the church band members, the choir members, a lot of the assistant ministers, and a lot of the longtime or more committed members are all on Facebook. The Pastor usually post something short but inspirational every day, but the rest of us are just keeping in touch by talking and “tweeting ” about what’s going on in our various lives, and encouraging each other. I love it.
Besides church, I am a big fan of Meetup.com. There you can find a group of people who meet regularly to talk about or practice almost whatever you are interested in. There are groups of singles who get together to bar hop, groups of card players who get together to play cards, movie watchers get together to go watch movies together. I personally belong to a group of aspiring writers who meet up to review and encourage each other in their most recent work. What I love about the group is that it is not all black or white, or all young or old – it’s a group of people that I would never have had the opportunity to meet under other circumstances. And I love it.
However you do it, if you are meeting people online, see what they are doing in the real world, and go meet them there. Get out from behind that computer screen and go live your life in person. Online relationships are fun, but some things are just better in person.
Copyrighted © 2011 by Que Scott. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.