When You Walk Away From The Community

Jason Bell
3 min readFeb 24, 2024

Leaving an online community, especially when you work remotely and rely on digital spaces for social interaction, can feel isolating and challenging for your mental health.

This, I’ve found, is hard when the community is related to your day-to-day operations. It might be a piece of technology, or a group who works in the same area of expertise as you. When you move on, and this can happen frequently, then the changes are noticeable.

How Did We Get Here?

During the pandemic in 2020 so many communities popped up, talks were done online and a whole industry moved to Zoom, Hangouts, Clubhouse and anything else that would host them. Some announced this as the new normal, everything would be done this way. I decided different.

The events industry needed to be back face-to-face, filling conference halls and supporting the hospitality industry. The tail of that though is that a lot of people got left behind.

Events slowly thinned out online, the in-person meet, while nervous to start off with was back as the defacto norm.

So What Can We Do About It?

Whether the departure is by choice or necessity, the void that’s left can impact your sense of belonging and connection.

Acknowledge Your Feelings
It’s normal to feel a mix of emotions: sadness, relief, loneliness, or confusion. Acknowledge these feelings rather than pushing them away. It’s an important step in processing your experience and moving forward.

Create a Transition Plan
Before you leave, consider how you’ll replace the support and interaction you received from the community. Plan activities, join new groups, or reconnect with offline friends. Having a plan can make the transition smoother and less daunting.

Explore New Communities
Look for other online or offline communities that align with your interests or values. Start as a lurker, if that feels more comfortable, and gradually increase your participation. Finding a new community can help fill the void left by the previous one.

Invest in Offline Relationships
Strengthen your offline social network. Plan regular meet-ups with friends, join a local club, or volunteer. Physical social interactions can be incredibly rewarding and are a vital part of our mental well-being.

Develop a Self-Care Routine
Focus on activities that promote well-being: exercise, meditation, hobbies, or learning something new. A consistent self-care routine can boost your mood and help you manage stress.

Seek Professional Support
If you find the transition particularly challenging, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. They can offer strategies to cope with feelings of isolation or sadness and help you navigate your emotions in a healthy way.

Embrace Solo Time
Learn to enjoy your own company. See this as an opportunity to explore your interests, set personal goals, and grow. Solo time can be incredibly productive and fulfilling.

Stay Connected
Maintain connections with individuals from the online community, if possible. Social media, email, or messaging apps can keep you connected without the need for a formal community structure.

Reflect and Grow
Use this time to reflect on what you learned from your time in the community and how you’ve grown. Consider what you want from future communities or social interactions and how they align with your personal growth.

Practice Patience and Kindness
Be patient and kind to yourself during this transition. Adjusting to change takes time, and it’s okay to have good days and bad days. Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection.

Please remember that leaving an online community doesn’t have to lead to isolation. By taking the steps suggested above to manage your mental health, seeking new connections, and focusing on personal growth, you can navigate this change in a healthy and positive way.

Remember, it’s an opportunity to rediscover yourself and build the kind of social life that truly fulfils you.

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Jason Bell

A polymath of ML/AI, expert in container deployments and engineering. Author of two machine learning books for Wiley Inc.