Social networking Web sites are quickly climbing the tower of popularity on the Internet. Users are spending more and more time engaged in the drama of these online communities, and in fact, sites like Facebook and MySpace often fall into the top 10 most visited sites on the Web [source: Most Popular Web sites].
But have you ever considered how much time you waste checking out your friends' Facebook status updates or twittering clever comments about your day? What if you could use all those hours on social networking sites to change the planet? Can social networking with a purpose make the world a better place?
Members of the Gaia Community think so. Instead of connecting old classmates or business professionals, the Gaia Community brings together people to support and inspire each other -- to create a more harmonious and peaceful world. In short, the Gaia Community is social networking with a conscience. The site is committed to changing the world by mobilizing people who are dedicated to positive growth on a personal and a global level.
In some ways, the Gaia Community is pretty similar to other social networking sites. For example, you create a unique profile that showcases your favorite movies and music, as well as your interests and hobbies. What makes the Gaia Community a little different, though, is its emphasis on spirituality and personal growth. Profiles also include a goals section and an area where users post their favorite inspirational quotations.
While spirituality is a focus of the site, it's important to note that the community does not endorse any particular set of religious beliefs. Rather, the Gaia Community promotes a sense of spiritual awareness and a belief that every person's actions directly influence the world. The site's purpose is to bring together people with similar beliefs and aspirations and make a positive impact. That's a tall order. How can a social networking Web site fill it?
Using the Gaia Community
The Gaia Community seeks to inspire and empower its members. But it also focuses equally on a spirit of entrepreneurship. The Gaia Community team operates under the premise of conscious capitalism. Basically, conscious capitalism is the idea that the ways we exchange capital, whether it be through our careers or our purchases, should reflect our values.
The Web site encourages its users to realize the potential in each of them and to use that potential in careers that will have a positive influence on the world. Whether it's leveraging a love for building to construct sustainable housing or a passion to care for others to become a doctor, the Gaia Community challenges users to connect personal values with the value they put in the bank. It also encourages users to research products to make sure their purchases aren't compromising their beliefs.
Now that we understand the philosophy behind the Web site, let's discuss how to actually go about using it. To start, a user's personal Gaia Community profile is divided into several sections. When you sign up on the Gaia Community Web site, you'll create a profile that will list your interests, favorite books and movies. You can post photos or send messages to people in the community. As with most social networking sites, you search for people with similar interests and "friend" them to keep up with their activities. You can post articles to be read by the entire Gaia network. If you click on the friends tab, you can see photos of the entire Gaia Community.
In addition to these basic social networking profile features, Gaia Community members may also list their goals, most influential teachers and favorite inspirational questions. So, instead of simply piling on friends with whom you might have little or no connection, Gaia Community members connect for a purpose. In fact, nearly all of the interactions of Gaia Community members are focused on spiritual inspiration and physical well-being.
In addition to the community page of the site, there are three major sections that allow you to interact with other Gaia Community members. In the Conversations area, you can discuss favorite books, films or music, or share questions and reflections to which other members can respond. You can also join groups for everyone from vegans and environmental activists to movie buffs. In the Creative Spaces section, you can create a blog or read the blogs of your friends or other community members. Here, you can also post photos and videos or send e-cards. In the Local Connections section, you can search for environmentally friendly or spiritually focused businesses or gatherings in your area. You might be able to connect with a local organic farmer or alternative medicine specialist in this area of the Gaia Community.
The local connections section also includes a section for online dating. In this section of the site, you can find your Gaia "Soulmate." Similar to sites like eHarmony.com, Gaia looks to match people with similar beliefs and spiritual aspirations.
Although social networking is the primary focus of the Gaia Community, the site also features several additional branches to enhance your quest to change the world. What is Gaia Community's version of Netflix and how does the Web site teach you to create a yoga studio in your living room?
Benefits of the Gaia Community
Aside from the social networking aspects of the Gaia Community, the site also features several different sections that will help you explore the many different dimensions of spiritual and physical well-being. Some of these benefits cost money. Let's take a look at a few:
- Spiritual Cinema Circle: This area of the site reviews spiritually focused films. Movies featured here are meant to inspire and empower members to make a difference. Also, for $21 per month, you can have four of these spiritually focused films shipped to you [source: Spiritual Cinema Circle]. It's sort of like Netflix for the soul.
- Gaia Illumination University: This branch of the Gaia Community offers online classes on topics related to spirituality and wellness. For $4 per week, you gain 13 weeks of access to all courses [source: Illumination University].
- Gaiam Yoga Club: This area of the site provides instructions and streaming video to enhance your yoga skills. For $5 per week, you can learn 75 yoga poses and download 63 meditation audiocasts [source: Yoga Club].
- Gaiam Life: This section of the site features blogs, articles and videos that highlight healthy living choices. Topics covered range from weight loss to teaching kids how to be eco-friendly.
- Earth Cinema Circle: Like the Spiritual Cinema Circle, the Earth Cinema Circle ships you films about environmental awareness for $17.95 every other month. You'll receive four films that are yours to keep [source: Earth Cinema Circle].
- UltraMind Solution Club: This nine-week program teaches users how to boost their confidence and sharpen their minds. After a three-day trial, users are charged $5 per week to continue the program [source: UltraMind Club].
- Gaiam: This section of the site allows you to browse stuff like eco-friendly home products and herbal supplements [source: Gaiam].
For more information social networking communities beyond Gaia, visit the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Dunn, Collin. "Zaadz: Social Networking to Change the World." TreeHugger. July 7, 2006.http://www.treehugger.com/files/2006/07/zaadz_social_ne.php#ch01
- Earth Cinema Circle.http://www.earthcinemacircle.com/?utm_source=GaiaHome&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=jw
- Gaia Community FAQ.http://support.gaia.com/faq#faq23
- Gaia Illumination University.http://www.gaiailluminationuniversity.com/q109?utm_source=GaiaHome&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=jw
- Gaia People.http://www.gaia.com/people
- Gaiam Life.http://life.gaiam.com/?utm_source=GaiaHome&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=jw
- Gaiam: A Life Style Company.http://www.gaiam.com/?utm_source=GaiaHome&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=jw
- Gaiam Online Yoga Company.http://www.gaiamyogaclub.com/?utm_source=GaiaHome&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=jw
- Moore, Peter and Werner Brandt. "Zaadz Virtual Community Takes in New Meaning." Alternatives Magazine.http://www.alternativesmagazine.com/42/zaadz.html
- Most Popular Web sites.http://mostpopularWeb sites.net/
- Spiritual Cinema Club.http://www.spiritualcinemacircle.com/?utm_source=GaiaHome&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=jw
- UltraMind Club.http://www.ultramindclub.com/?utm_source=GaiaHome&utm_medium=widget&utm_campaign=jw
- "Zaadz.com Announces 'Conscious' Investment." The Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire. March 29, 2009.http://www.csrwire.com/press/press_release/15950-Zaadz-com-Announces-Conscious-Investment