You can sit at my table, if you want to.

I”ve been wandering around the internet a lot more lately.  Which is hardly surprising, considering my job.  The surprising thing is, I’m not doing this in my role as a “social media professional” (or whatever the acceptable-job-title-of-the-week is right now).  Instead, I’ve started looking for my virtual tribe as a person again.

You may have noticed that my blogroll has changed a bit in the last few weeks. It’s going to keep changing.

Here’s the thing about the tribe: it’s completely subjective and highly fluid at this point.

img courtesy stylesr on sxc

Right now, I ramble across the vast expanse of the web, and I see people, and it’s like the first day of middle school. You see a face in the crowd and think “There’s something about that person that just jives with me. I think we could be friends. I’m gonna shimmy on over his/her direction and say hey.”

Because my current tribes, online and in real life, have gotten a little claustrophobic.

It’s not that I don’t love and appreciate my current friends. I do–dearly.

But with any group, at a certain point, you make a decision whether you’re a closed group, or an open group. The beauty of the walled garden is that I am blessed to have some friendships where I can truly share anything with (and I do mean ANYTHING), and the other women in the group feel the same way. There is a level of intimacy and honesty and authenticity in those groups that couldn’t have developed with new people poking their heads in every few months or weeks.

But you should never let yourself get into a place where you move from one walled garden to another and never take the risk of getting to know anyone new.  That’s where I’ve been. And I can’t breathe living like that anymore.

My current tribes know all my secrets.  They’re cool with my numerous irritating flaws and they tolerate my generally annoying magnificence in those few areas where I’m annoyingly magnificent.   I do the same for them.  We’re all comfortable with each other, which is part of the problem.  Having a community of comfort is a beautiful thing.  Love it, need it, can’t do without it.

Lately, though, I’ve realized that I need an uncomfortable community. An “I don’t quite know if I actually belong here yet” community.

In the real world, that’s probably going to look like me showing up  in unexpected places.  It may look like me being a more open, interested, available person to people who are already in my life.

Online, it’s going to look like me poking my nose in new comments and conversations.  Turning up on blogs and forums where I don’t know anyone.  It means being a noob again.  Wow.

This week, I have learned saying “I think your blog is cool” on Twitter is the grown-up blogger equivalent of saying “Cool t-shirt” back in middle school.  It’s a nice low-key icebreaker.

So if you are also wandering the web in a similar fashion, and you’re looking at me across the digital cafeteria thinking “She seems kind of cool.  I think I could hang with this girl.” drop a comment with a link to your blog or your Twitter or whatever is your home base on the web.  Say hello.  Give me a shout on Twitter.

I promise not to turn my nose up at you because you lack Eastlands and a shaker sweater over a tank top.

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