Facebook has certainly faced a great deal of criticism lately, much of it well-deserved.
However, that still does not change my belief that Facebook at its most basic level is a powerful tool for connecting people and building communities.
Just before heading to London I joined the London Vegans Facebook group, primarily as a way to find out about vegan restaurants and markets. It was quite useful for that purpose, but I realized at its heart the group was a way to foster connections among like-minded people, a tribe.
And here is a perfect example.
Two days ago someone posted the following message to the group:
Hi guys, I’m moving to London in a few weeks (Australian) and would love to make friends with some fellow vegans! Food is my life so if anyone wants a friend who is literally always down to eat, please add me.
The poster received 72 replies and 71 likes.
Here are some of the replies:
- I live in Greenwich and it’s great! South East London. I am from North London originally and always said I would never move South of the river. So glad I did though, it’s the best. Give me a shout when you are here. We can grab a drink/vegan food.
- North London where it’s at for sure…. but I’m born here so I would say that….muswell hill and surrounding areas are gorgeous…. plenty of 100% vegan pubs popping up as well. all the best for your move to London!
- Um I am moving from Melbourne in May be my friend thank
- Fellow Aussie (well, fraussie) vegan living in Brighton! Come down south if you miss the coast!
- Hi! I need vegan friends too! I live in Isleworth (London zone 4).
- You’ll love London! I live in Islington, feel free to message me when you’ve arrived
- Welcome! you’ll be just fine here, plenty of food places! I’m in NW, happy to meet up.
- Welcome! Feel free to add me i’m happy to meet up!
- Hey, I’m moving to London in 5 days from New Zealand! I’ll be living in Wandsworth, and definitely keen to meet other vegans to find all the good eating places.
- I am moving to London – Canada Water – in 5 days too. Look forward to find good places to eat and do groceries !! And of course meet new friends.
- Come see us at The Canvas Cafe E1. If you buy a meal I’ll give you a free cake for pudding as a welcome gift!
- I live in west London and a food date sounds good to me!
- I’m actually moving to London (French) in 5 days and I would be more than happy to meet vegan friends. PS : I looooooooove food
- Just moved to London too – live in Brixton and always up for food!
- Hello! I am also an Australian in London who is vegan, let’s be pals!
- I’m in Shoreditch! If you’re around let me know! There’s lots of amazing vegan places around here!!
- I don’t know many vegans so hit me up if you’d like someone to show your round town
- Hi Georgina! I run Brixton Vegan Market ; our next market is on 8th April, 9.30am to 3.30/4pm. Check out all our other dates & details here ~ Hope you can visit us soonish. All the best
- Welcome to London. My girlfriend and I live in blackheath, so drop us a line if you end up living over that way
- I am also in Greenwich.. perhaps we could all meet
- Another Aussie! welcome! I’m out between Newbury and Amersham (i live in a van and move around) so if you’re ever on the West side hit me up!
How great is this? Someone is moving to a new town, knowing few, if any people. So she reaches out to her new tribe, and the response is immediate and welcoming. The post also helped other people who were already in the tribe but didn’t know each other to make connections.
So the combination of a tribe of like-minded people (Vegans in London), and the willingness of one of its members to be open and vulnerable leads to some connections for the new girl in town.
And while the connections may start out as just recommendations as to where to eat and/or where to live, it could lead to meet-ups for coffee and lunch and drinks, and who knows where the relationships could go from there.
And what made all of this possible?
Facebook, plain and simple. It provides the platform for these sort of interactions but it is up the members to take advantage of the platform by forming tribes and being an engaged member of that tribe.
Even though I’ve left London, I plan to stay int he group, since it is one of the most active, welcoming, and helpful Facebook groups I am in.
And good luck to the poster with her move to London; it seems like it is off to a good start.