Community is a Click Away.

Online community gives those with challenging schedules, physical or financial limitations, and social inhibitions an opportunity to engage with others in a meaningful and valuable way. Of course, online community can not completely replace all social interaction. It is important for us as social animals to engage with one another on a personal level that allows us to look into another’s eyes, place a supporting hand on a shoulder, or share a supportive embrace when needed. But for those with physical handicaps that limit their ability to move freely, those with obligations and responsibilities that leave little free time for socializing, and people that lack the skills to easily initiate relationships with strangers, online community can be an ideal approach to engaging with a community and becoming part of a group.

Online it’s easier to make the first move because the internet provides a barrier that insulates against the fear of rejection and judgement. For those who have too little resources, (be it time, money, or both), the internet is overflowing with communities that are available to access on your time, without a dime, and only require two things: 1. Internet access and 2. a device on which to use the internet.

5 Free Types of Community You Can Join Today:

1. Skillshare “Skillshare is a global marketplace for classes. Learn real-world skills from anyone, anywhere. We power thousands of creative, collaborative classes on everything from programming to design to crafts.” The classes on skillshare are both online, and off, and some charge a fee, while others are free. But the one thing they have in common is they work almost like a workshop style class where you engage online with other students, share your work and projects online, and are part of a small educational community. I am taking 3 free online classes over the next three months myself. It is a wonderful way to learn on my own schedule without having to shell out money when funds are tight.

2. Linkedin Linkedin Groups provide a free and easy approach to making valuable business connections and joining in high quality discussion with your peers and leaders in your industry.

3. Moma.org For artists and art lovers, the Museum of Modern Art has an online community which allows you to browse art work (Film, Paintings, Sculpture and more) and join the conversation with their “Inside/Out” community where staff and everyday art enthusiasts discuss various exhibits and art forms.

4. turntable.fm Music lovers have their own online community as well. Turntable was created to “connect you, your friends and others in a real time music listening experience.” It offers a variety of “rooms” in which you, as an avatar, can walk in and DJ with others in the room. You can live chat throughout your music listening and playing experience, and chose to “follow” DJs whose music you really vibe with. It is free to join, listen and play music in any of the countless rooms, each created around different genres of music. And if you don’t find a room that fits your unique musical taste, no problem, you can create your own room and invite others to come chill and nod their avatar heads to your beats.

5. Quora.com The online community to share information, ask questions and crowd source answers is a click away and completely free of charge.“Quora connects you to everything you want to know about. Quora aims to be the easiest place to write new content and share content from the web. We organize people and their interests so you can find, collect and share the information most valuable to you.” With Quora knowledgeable people possessing a wide variety of experiences and points of view are easily accessible and happy to engage. “When you want to know more about something, Quora delivers you answers and content from people who share your interests and people who have first-hand knowledge — like real doctors, economists, screenwriters, police officers, and military veterans.”

While Life may seem lonely at times, there is no excuse to be completely alone if you have access to the internet. Whatever your passion or interest, economic status, or social aptitude , there is a free, online community where you can connect with others in a valuable and enjoyable way.

Which online communities make you feel at home?