Survey Results 6b: Chat, Online Communities and Personal Websites
Twelve out of 16 respond that they chat, two used to but don't any longer (Katrine and Giovanni), and two (Barbara and David) don't chat at all. Barbara reasons this with the fact that she has plenty of social contact in her every day life, and has no need for further interaction. David on the other hand, mentions that in his case he always needs to plan this beforehand, which is difficult especially when he has no internet access at home or work.
Those who do chat predominantly do so with people they already know from face-to-face settings. Seven responded that they mainly chatted with people who lived far away or abroad, while three mostly chat with people who live close by. The remaining three mention that they chat equally with people close by as people abroad.
The survey shows that chat occurs predominantly with existing relations, and that generally, there is very little interaction with strangers. The same tendency is apparent when enquiring into participation in online communities or fora – most do not feel the need to participate, while those who do participate in for a, predominantly visit those with the purpose of information exchange rather than relationship building.
A quick exploration of the web reveals that there are in fact online communities created for the purpose of TCK interaction – Orkut has two communities, one named Third Culture Kids, and the related community Global Nomads, inhabited by mostly the same individuals. However, the participation level is extremely low, Third Culture Kids was created in February 2004, and 44 posts in total, the last one from December 2004. Global Nomads was also created in February 2004, but hold only 24 posts in total, the last also from December.). It is possible however, that the members participating in these communities interact privately.
The Global Nomad Virtual Village, which was founded in 1998, writes as its vision:
“The Global Nomad Virtual Village (GNVV) is an internet-based, non-profit, organization; a virtual hub or virtual village, that provides global nomads, third culture kids, Foreign Service dependents, military brats, (basically anyone who shares the common bond of growing up in a foreign land)... a permanent "place" to keep in touch."Contact information or a forum however, is nowhere to be seen on the website, neither are mailing lists. “Military brats” - children who have been brought up in military bases outside the USA have an online home at http://brats.meetup.com/. The site features a message board, a photo album and announcements of arranged meetings real life meetings for the military brats. While meetings have been arranged since October 2003, there are no photos nor are there any postings on the message board. MK connection doesn’t offer a forum, but links to stories and poetry written by former missionary kids who have grown up as TCKs. Finally, the Danish TCK organisation DUO’s website reports that it has been at a standstill since 2002.
While chatting for meeting others isn’t practiced much among TCKs, it is still a valuable and important tool for keeping up pre-existing networks. In the same way as SMS messages, short conversations are important to the respondents, making it possible for a constant bond. Natalie mentions a website which she keeps with three friends from high school, mostly used for sharing pictures. Dan and Katrine each own a family website, used for internal communication in the family only.