One of the stereotypes out there is that fat people are jovial people who have lots of friends. While there are definitely women like that out there, there are also plus size women who feel isolated and alienated because of how they are treated because of their weight (notice I said how they are treated, and not just because of their weight).
While I have a few overweight friends, most of my face to face friends are what society would call regular weight. Extending my circle of friends to include the online community has always been important to me as it has expanded my exposure to women of all ages and sizes and ethnicity but mostly importantly plus size women from all over the world.
Of all the social networking tools I am involved with Twitter is my favorite and is probably, by far, the easiest one to use especially if you download a Twitter tool like Tweetdeck which makes it easier for you to send your tweets and read the tweets of your friends without having to open up a new browser. It just sits in your desktop toolbar. Even if you do not use a Twitter tool, the website is pretty easy to use and sign up. It is not overridden with excess paraphernalia or applications that are going to distract you from engaging in your social circles.
I really did not want to sign up for a Facebook account. I was happy with Twitter but it seemed like everyone had one so I decided to try it out. And while I do not use it as much as Twitter it definitely has its draw. I was really quite slow to warm up to it. Facebook gives you an expanded account for your personal information as well as the opportunity to create fan pages for your fave topics or business. The downside seems to be a lot of games and other distractions that can be time consuming and take you away from the social networking path. One of the things that warmed me up to Facebook was that I could share my internet likes with my followers from anywhere on the web without actually having to visit the main site because pretty much everyone these days has a "like" or Facebook symbol on their website for sharing (i.e. BellaOnline's is just below this article with a few other networking site symbols).
The latest in social networking is Google+ (plus). It is currently in testing and you have to be invited to participate. It works on the basic friend connection principal except you can easily divide your friends into circles: one for best friends, one for co-workers, one for acquaintances etc. and control the distribution of information that is sent to each group and to the public. So if you wanted to send a picture of your child having a sudsy bath to the family you could do that and no one else would see it. Google plus has a similar feature for sharing links that Facebook has, a little +1 symbol that you can click on that will share the link of sites or articles you like. The one thing I do not like about Google though is that it links too many things together i.e. blogger, you tube, adsense, rss, gmail etc. I can understand the convenience of having everything under one umbrella but unfortunately if something goes wrong with one it could take down everything across the board -- something that I have experienced with my Yapoo [sic] accounts years ago that they refused to give an explanation for -- one of the joys of free service.
Hanging out at these online avenues is a good way to reduce your isolation and connect with other plus size women and men. There is a protective community out there that is willing to lend an ear, give words of encouragement, and rise to your defense. But you have to make the first move by making an account and then following through with the networking.
There is a very supportive plus size community online but like real life you have to pick and choose your friends wisely. Ten things you should look at before "friending", "liking", or "following" a new friend:
* Whether they use a real name or not.
* Whether they use a photo of themselves or a cartoon (or other inanimate object).
* What they say in their bio.
* Their recent post topics and comments.
* Their past post topics and comments (go back a month or two).
* Who they friend.
* Whether they engage in conversations with a select few or a wider range.
* The types of conversations they engage in.
* The types of photos and links they post.
* Whether they engage in conversations or just post links.
Looking at all of these things will give you a general view if this is someone you want to be connected with. Do not be concerned with not friending someone or offending them; with so many people using social networking, it happens to all of us all the time and is just part of the online jungle.
If you want to connect with me online you will find my social networking links in my Large and Lovely Editor Bio. Please introduce yourself and let me know read this so I know to follow you back. In general, if there are no tweets or comments, no bio, no photo etc I will probably not follow you back so be sure to get the basics in place first.
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