In my day to day life, I use social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter to update my friends and family on my every boring detail of life, or to post pictures of cute cats and funny comics.
In this instance, the community I am apart of influences the kind of tools that I use. I am obligated to update my Facebook so my aunts and uncles and other family members who haven’t seen me in years can know what I’m up to in school, where I went on vacation, etc. As well, Facebook fosters friendships that otherwise could have been lost or left by the wayside because of physical distance.
I don’t know for certain if I would describe myself as belonging to an online community. I, of course, have some unusual or odd interests and could probably find people in cyberspace who share my fascination or excitement for such a subject, if I so chose. However, I don’t know if I’ve actively sought out these online communities. I think the closest example would be that I follow a Doctor Who Tumblr. Or perhaps, because I subscribe to r/doctorwho or r/gameofthrones on Reddit. The more I think about it, the more I realize I probably am a huge nerd that does belong to an internet-based fan club.
However, I’ve never taken the online groups I belong to into my physical, personal, “real world” life. Therefore, I don’t think that the tools I use on the internet really affect the kind of communities I belong to. I have friends in the “real world” that also like Doctor Who and Game of Thrones, so my participation in the fandom isn’t just online.
Although, if I were into an even more obscure pastime or interest, I’m sure the internet would be the first place I would look to find people with similar tastes. The success of Meetup.com is a testament to the fact that humans crave social interaction, especially with others who enjoy the same things as them. And the more obscure or unusual the interest is, the more likely that people will bond over it. Meetup.com was founded so that groups that aren’t internally organized , or don’t know how or where to meet up with each other because they are less populous, can find each other through the power of the world wide web.
So no, I wouldn’t say that the tools I use affect my social circles or communities I belong to. But they certainly have the capacity to.