As I mentioned in my blog post a couple of weeks ago, Social Media can seem like a lonely and unforgiving place. But sometimes, it represents “community” at its very best, so much so that it (almost) brings a tear to my eye.
Before you assume I’m a complete mushy mess, let me explain.
My husband is a self-proclaimed audiophile. At this moment, as I type this post from home, in my immediate view is a vintage audio receiver, pair of vintage speakers, equalizer, second pair of speakers, CD player…you get the idea. It’s a little irritating as a girl who likes things “just so,” but a dude’s gotta have his hobbies. So….I’m supportive.
For the past few years, he’s been a regular on AudioKarma.org, an online community dedicated to all things audio, stereo, vintage TV, and more. At first, I thought this was a nice way for him to connect with other audiophiles to talk about their mutual interests; after all, it meant *I* no longer had to feign interest in woofers and subwoofers and whatnot.
But after he’d been an active member for a while, I realized AudioKarma (AK) was more than just a way to connect to fellow audiophiles; it was actually a pretty special online forum. The guys (they’re mostly guys, sorry for the stereotype, ladies) are on AK for the love of all things audio, so they openly share information and expertise – from the most beginner tips to complete complex circuitry designs. With the help of these guys, my husband has been able to restore and rebuild several pieces of vintage audio equipment to ideal – and yes, working — condition. Keep in mind he had zero audio or electrical experience beforehand.
They also buy and sell equipment from each other locally. Recently, my husband drove down to Columbus to sell speakers to one AK member and buy speakers from another. In my mind, this sounded super sketchy – who are these guys? What if he gets robbed? Turns out, the buyer and seller in Columbus are actually friends from previous AK transactions, and everything went off without a hitch. I’m a little surprised they didn’t ask my husband to stay for dinner. 🙂
But what really impressed me was when audio items started appearing at our door: a package of speaker wiring in a variety of gauges, wood housing for a receiver, a hard-to-find logo to go on some vintage equipment. All for free, from members of AK who wanted to “pay it forward” with items they didn’t need or had in excess. And I’m happy to report my hubs has paid it forward on a few occasions himself.
Amazing that these things actually happen, with “real life” strangers, right?!
Then my husband told me a story that really got me (and where the tears really did well up). He told me about a disabled AK member who was robbed of his audio equipment and some other items during a Craigslist transaction gone badly. When the AK community found out about it, they collected donations for him via his PayPal account, for someone they only knew through a discussion forum. Love it.
AudioKarma has been essential in helping my hubs develop his love for and hone his skills of all things audio. But more than that, it’s an awesome example of how people with similar interests can come together to support one another and offer their assistance “just because” – in a way that truly fosters community.
For me, that’s the ultimate goal of social media – to create connections that go beyond the tweet or message or status update. Don’t you agree?