Ethnographic Study in an Online Community
Hi, I am a college student working on an ethnographic project learning about a culture separate of my own. My class was asked to discover an online community and become involved. I've been lurking on the site trying to learn about the community it has. With your responses I will be writing a paper that only my professor will read. Part of why I chose this site is because of general curiosity. I have friends in an open relationship which I assume to be similar and the ability for people to be in polyamorous relation interests me. Although I am learning about a lifestyle from this site, for my project the goal is to learn about whether or not a community exists online and the opinions of members on the community and how they see and value it. If you have more questions for me feel free to ask. Here are a few question I have for members on this forum.
1. What motivated you to seek out a site like this, and what led you to join this particular site?
2. What do you gain from this community, do you even consider this forum to be an online community?
3. How do you value the people you talk to on here?
You may reply in the thread or send me a private message. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
Thank you for being more direct than you were in your first thread. Your questions are better formulated, as well. I'll send you a PM in a moment . . .
Great comeback from the replies to your original post-I appreciate it!
I came here a little over 3 years ago seeking information. I was in love with two men and had been for years, but only just that August found the term polyamory. I knew no one who knew it.
I read a lot, started posting and made friends. I definitely feel this is one community of which I am part. I have arranged vacations to meet in person-friends I have made on this forum.
When my world has crumbled, it is here I have come to find support, suggestions and constructive criticism. Some of my crumblings were regarding my poly-dynamic; but there have been others (physical and mental health issues, custody battles over a God child in an abusive home). The people here have been wonderful about offering encouragement and advice, friendly support and. Just "I am here" time.
I agree with LR - excellent come-back given the responses to your original post. Kudos to you for taking that feedback and coming back! (a lot of people run away and never post again if they perceive any negative reaction to their initial post.
Now onto your questions:
Then I found myself in a new poly configuration - hinge in a cohabitating MFM Vee (previously I was a "married bisexual woman with casual female FWBs" situation) - there were new ideas/concepts that I wanted to talk about so I sought out others to talk to that might have some idea where I was coming from - and found polyamory.com
I joined this particular site because it was the most active poly forum that I found and several of the frequent posters here are in situations that are roughly similar to mine.
I DO consider this forum to be an "online community" - the community of "polyamory.com" members. I think it is important, however, to distinguish this from a larger theoretical amorphous "community of polyamorous people" - which I DON'T think exists. To be a "community" I think requires more than the sharing of one common idea (especially an idea as widely varied as "polyamory").
I think that this forum qualifies as a "community" because of the "shared experience" of talking about certain topics and sharing our personal stories. We end up having a "history" with other posters (even if that history is brief) - threads that we have posted on together, conversations we have had, etc. ...and you end up reading other people's posts with the added knowledge of their personal situations and how they have responded in other threads.
This doesn't mean that someone has to be here for a long time to "join" the community - one intense thread with lots of conversation back-and-forth is enough for me to feel that I "know" someone to some small degree. Even a lurker can feel that they are part of the community - say someone sees I have posted and says to themselves "Oh-Ho! - here comes JaneQ - she is rabid about topic X - she'll tell poster Y the logical fallacy of their argument :D"
It is this shared history/shared culture/shared conversation that makes this forum feel like a community to me. And then you start to CARE about the the other posters...You WANT it to work out for them...etc.
I appreciate that the people here take the time to share their experiences with others. I respect that people are struggling and turning towards the forum as a source of support. I enjoy being able to talk to other people about my situation without having to wade through the whole "WHAT you have a husband AND a boyfriend?" conversation to get to the point that I wanted to make/ question that I wanted to ask.
...AND I find it gratifying when I can offer someone words of advise/experience/support that they find helpful.
Hope that helps.
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