Tech Savvy: Facebook Groups connect users across the world – Brainerd Dispatch

I appreciate that apps like Facebook allow me to keep up with my family in other states and give me a good laugh from time to time, but on the other hand, I’m guilty of getting sucked into the comment section on controversial posts and coming out with my blood boiling. That’s especially been an issue over the past year with, what with the COVID-19 pandemic, a big presidential election and all the other chaos that was 2020.

Throughout the pandemic, though, I managed to find more positives in Facebook than just funny memes and adorable pictures of my nieces and nephews. I found a new community of people who I’ve never met before but now consider friends. I found a fun way to spend some of my free time instead of camping out in front of the TV.

Through Facebook Groups, I’ve found a new hobby of sorts, and it’s really helped pass the time while having to quarantine and social distance.

There’s pretty much a Facebook group for everything. If you have a specific hobby or interest, you can more than likely find a group of people on social media who share that same interest and want to talk about it. Being the self-proclaimed nerd that I am, I joined a Harry Potter group a few months back that has come to take up more and more of my time in the best way possible.

It’s a group of about 1,600 adults who share a love of all things Harry Potter. Members join one of the series’ four “houses” and compete each month for what’s called the “house cup.” Those familiar with Harry Potter know what I’m talking about. For those who aren’t, let’s just say it’s a big prize. We compete for this imaginary prize (and bragging rights) through various Harry Potter-themed games and activities like trivia, bingo, crosswords, word scrambles and jigsaw puzzles. I eventually became a moderator and then an admin, which is Facebook speak for one of the people who’s more or less in charge of the group. There are 20 moderators and admins in this group — five from each of the four houses — and along with that status comes a group chat where we facilitate daily operations of the group. But it’s more than just that. We get to know one another on a personal level and share stories and jokes and whatever else might be going on in our lives. These are people from all across the country who I’ve never met in person but still feel like I know to some degree. It’s been great to feel like I’ve made new friends from afar without having to leave my apartment or break COVID-19 protocols.

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I’m also in a Facebook group for fans of Jane Austen and other Regency era literature and entertainment. I’m not as active in this group, but it has given me some good suggestions for books, movies and TV shows to get me through the quarantine — not that I don’t have enough unread books on my shelves already, but that’s another matter.

The Jane Austen group also offers opportunities for in-depth discussions about books and their characters, which is also a positive, especially for those who might not have people in their immediate circles of friends or families with the same interests. The ability to have intellectual conversations about your favorite books with people from other parts of the world is both stimulating and eye opening.

I’ve talked with friends who have joined various groups to assist with new hobbies taken up during the pandemic, too. Whether it’s gardening, maple syrup making, knitting or any other hobby or interest, connecting with like-minded people is just a click or two away.

I understand that as vaccines become available to more people, more businesses are opening up and people are starting to get out of the house more than they were a year ago, but even so, I think it’s important to recognize and understand the tools we have at our fingertips. For those who still aren’t 100% comfortable venturing out into the outside world — or for those who are just natural homebodies — making connections through technology from the comfort of your home is still a possibility and something I think should be celebrated.

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THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at



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