Community is a group of independent people living in the same place or having common rights, values and interests. It is a powerful force behind the development of an individual and each individual can be part of one or more communities. For me, I am part of the community of Hong Kong, the community of Coventry University and the Christian community.
Apart from the concrete communities, online communities also become more and more popular. Members in online community interact with each other through Internet. People can join their communities via social networking sites, forums, blogs, video games, online games and so on. They can post, comment, react, chat or like for others. They may also feel like home in some online communities because there are invisible friends and family.
I began to use Internet since I was a primary school student and started to join different online communities at that time. Almost 10 years ago, online chat room was very popular among teenagers. I think everyone should know MSN, which is an instant messaging program. It allows us to have online chatting with friends or even strangers. Everyday when I back home after school, I turned on the computer and login MSN immediately to see who were online, so that I can chat with them. It was the largest entertainment for me and my friends. I thought MSN was an amazing platform because it was a new technology to us. We could play games, send images, text, audio or even video to others, and this real-time online chat provided the opportunity for us to interact with people without time and space constraint. However, due to the intense competition, MSN was replaced by other messaging programs and social media, and it closed 2 years ago. Most of the users felt depress about this and we think that this was the end of an era, especially among the 90’s generation.
Besides, I used to participate in NeoPets, which is a virtual pet website. Every users in this community have to own virtual pets and buy virtual items for them to raise their pets. This can help us to build responsibility. In this community, we called this virtual world as “Neopia” and called other users as “Neofriends”. We play games together, and discuss with each other in the hub or Neoboards (a public discussion board) as well. There are also some guilds for groups of users with similar interests to chat in their own message board. All of the users have to follow the same family’s rules in this community. It also furthers my real world communication with others since we have common topics to talk about, such as the skills and experience of raising pets. This is another memory for the 90’s generation. Although we can still play NeoPets nowadays, it is not as common as before.
As I said that social media is increasingly powerful, it is today’s most common online community. Now, I have left the above two online communities and entered into some new worlds. On one hand, I am part of some communities in social networking sites, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. I can share my own thought and media works, such as photos and video via these social network. The mutual aspects of these sites are users can share and exchange our opinions as well as to give suggestions to others immediately. We can also have the rights to select and edit posts. The functions of like and comment allow us to have instant respond to other users. If I can receive more likes and comments in these sites, I would be more satisfactory and prideful, which is the feeling that I can mostly gain from online communities. And I think the greatest advantage of online communities is that we can immediately receive information and instantly communicate with other members. In addition, if I rise a question in online communities, I can always find the answer very quickly because there are many other members who are good at different aspects willing to reply me, and vice versa. Therefore, this is another way for me to teach and learn from one another.
On the other hand, yesterday was my first time to enter into World of Warcraft and I feel really wonderful. I used a lot of time to look around this fantastic world. The graphic in this game is very authentic. This makes me feel like in the real world. As this is my first time to play online game, I was a bit confused of how to play the game. Being a newbie of this whole new world, I did not know what should I do and even how to move. Yet, after a round of exploration, I noticed that what are my tasks. I try to accomplish all of the missions and to move towards the goals. After I entered into the world, I found that there are a lot of other characters to help me finish my tasks. It makes me feel warm and joyful in this world. It is one of the characteristics that I can find in this online community and this enhanced my belonging to World of Warcraft. Besides, when I finish the task every time, I would have great sense of satisfaction because I can do it and I can have some rewards after that, i.e. new tools and level up. Therefore, I believe I have the ability to change the world in this virtual reality and I hope I can change the real world with this belief as well.
Being part in different communities, we can gain both physical and psychological assistance and support from other members, so that we can deal with different challenges. To make use of today’s technology, we can also join different online communities to communicate with people who are in different cultures from all over the world. We would no longer be alone and would have happier live because communities would give the sense of belonging and attachment to each individual.