Words: Deborah Durbin
How to reach out and connect to the wider spiritual community through the wonder of the web
Mention spirituality to some people and they’ll look at you as if you have two heads. It’s little wonder that many of us shy away from talking about our beliefs in public for fear of being laughed at or thought of as ‘odd’. Which is why many turn their computers on and find solace in online spiritual communities. The internet provides a wealth of information and support for those who want to find like-minded people who ‘get’ them. There are over 30,000 spiritual forums on the internet. Whether it’s angels or aliens, you can find a support network of people who hold the same beliefs as you, without having to explain your interests to those closest to you who might not understand. With all those lovely people and support available at the click of mouse, how do we find our spiritual tribe?
Choose a specific topic
Type any subject into Google and you’ll find a wealth of information at your fingertips and whilst this is an amazing use of technology, it can also be a haystack that you have to pick through to find the needle you’re looking for. If you’re interested in learning a new spiritual subject such as reading Tarot cards, instead of just typing ‘Tarot’ into your search engine, go for something more specific, such as ‘beginner tarot reading’ or ‘learning how to read tarot cards’. Honing your search will get you where you want to be faster.
Join a forum
Forums are a great way of making new friends who share the same interests as you and as long as you follow the forum rules and regulations, you can make life-long friends online who are happy to support you and offer you a wealth of information for nothing in return. Spiritual forums often have various categories and chat rooms, so even if you only have a vague interest in a particular subject, you will find amazing, first-hand information and if you don’t, you can always start a new thread and ask for help. Most forums have moderators. These are usually the people who have created the forum or are long-term members of a group. Moderators will check in and out of the forum groups regularly to make sure that everyone is playing nicely and will quickly block members if they are abusing the purpose of the forum. Protect your privacy When you find a group that you’d like to join, you’ll need to register. Although they vary, it is usually just be a simple form asking for your email address and a username. Here are some tips for joining a forum.
•To protect yourself from spam or unwanted attention, set up a different email address to your personal or work one. There are lots of free email address options such as Hotmail, Yahoo and AOL.
•Think of a username that is easy to remember but has no relation to your actual name and use this as your email address and your forum username.
•Make your username and email address something gender neutral. This way no one will know if you’re male or female. You will also be asked to set up a password. I would suggest you keep the same password for both your email address and your forum log in details. Choose something that only you would know but is easy to remember.
Perfectly proper web etiquette
Once you’ve chosen your email and username and you’ve registered to a spiritual online forum, you will usually receive an email with a link allowing you to access it. Occasionally you may have to wait 24 hours before your account is activated. Here are some tips on what to do next.
When you log in for the first time go to the welcome page. This will give you the forum’s rules and a list of any moderators.
Look at the stats on a forum as this will tell you how many members the forum has and who their regular members are. Some award stars or points to members that have contributed a lot of information or have been particularly helpful to other members.
Depending on whether the site you have chosen is a specialist one or a general spiritual one, there will be a list of threads on different subjects that you can choose from. Select the one that most appeals to you and introduce yourself. Regardless of the time of day or night, you will always find someone on the forum happy to welcome you.
Always be kind and civil to other members and avoid shouting with capital letters or exclamation marks.
Avoid getting into online arguments with other members. Everyone is there to learn, pass on information and make friends. I have some wonderfully supportive online friends on psychicsofa.com who have been friends for years and that’s because we are respectful of every other member.
Moderators will always be on hand if you experience any sort of cyberbullying.
What not to do We don’t need to warn you about not revealing too much personal information online, but it’s also important to remember that not everyone is who they seem behind the guise of their username. Some websites can be a scam so it always pays to be vigilant and question anyone who messages you for your bank details online in exchange for a reading or spiritual advice.
There are many authentic websites out there with members who will happily exchange readings for nothing but to practice their skills. Nordea.com offer some great advice on how to protect yourself when online. Happy networking!