Growing up in our tiny village primary school, my year had all of about 10 kids in it. There were only about 70 of us in the whole school.
So being there six hours a day, five days a week, you got to know everyone pretty well, and pretty quickly.
Looking back though, there’s no-one from my childhood I wish I’d kept in touch with, or felt an amazing connection with.
I was just as happy playing at home on my own.
Before you start to find your own independence as a young adult with a bike or car, most kids simply have to find their friends amongst those they are geographically near.
There’s no other choice, and there certainly wasn’t when I was of this age.
Aside from perhaps being of similar culture and background to you, there may be very little in common with those you find yourself around, in terms of personalities, interests, and ambitions.
As an adult, you can travel more, and go where you want, when you want. But despite this freedom, it can still be hard to find others who enjoy the same hobbies and passions and discussions.
Even those you might consider close friends in many ways, might not be people you would feel comfortable talking about topics such as photography, or music, or philosophy, or emotions.
I remember a phase of my life when I was heavily into salsa dancing, as a student, then also training as a teacher.
The club and the team I worked with were amazing people and I loved it, and them. I have very many happy memories from this time.
But over that four to five year period, I can’t recall having any particularly deep and meaningful conversations with any of them.
It was all about the dancing, and teaching dancing.
None of them really knew that I wrote poetry, or photographed, or what my music collection was like, or how much I think about life.
Now, we have the incredible and infinite internet.
For all the pointless and time and money wasting activities available online, there’s still that almost magical opportunity each of us have, each second we’re online.
The opportunity – and the distinct possibility – that we can find people that enjoy the same strange things we do – like wandering in the woods and through ancient churchyards with 15 year old digital cameras – and sharing and talking about these experiences.
By booting up and logging on, we can find and join and build the kind of tribes that simply don’t exist locally for us.
I don’t spend a huge amount of time online, but I do greatly value the tribe I’m a part of based around photography, 35hunter, and the related blogs I follow.
There’s simply no equivalent in my offline life.
My work colleagues barely know I photograph, aside from seeing a pretty image on my desktop screen, then probably assuming someone else made it. Again they’re great people, and we make an excellent team together, but the connection only goes so deep.
Online, we can choose where we hang out, and who we hang out with.
If you don’t enjoy being a part of a group any longer, you can just stop showing up.
It’s not like a local club, where if you stop attending, you then have to try to avoid half the village that do still go and ask why you don’t anymore, and the awkward conversations that ensue.
To this end I think it’s more important to decide where we’re not going to spend our time online.
Swiping mindlessly through Instagram or Twitter.
Losing half a day watching silly YouTube videos.
Reading news sites where half of it is fake and the other half is so distorted, exaggerated and fear mongering, it may as well be.
Scanning eBay for hours and bidding on cameras you don’t need.
Yeh, that last one is certainly directed at myself.
Just decide that every time you go online it’s going to be to spend quality time and make a positive and useful contribution to the tribe(s) you’re a part of.
There are exceptions when you use the internet for simple research and convenience, like checking tomorrow’s weather ahead of planning a picnic, booking cinema tickets, or finding the opening times of a shop.
Aside from these though – which are valuable – try to go with the approach above.
Choose to make your internet time as high quality, positive and rewarding as you can.
Where are your most valued tribes online? How much of your internet time would you say is time well spent?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
Thanks for looking.
Share this post with someone you think will enjoy it using the buttons below.
See what I’m up to About Now.