The Quest to Find Your People

Joining online communities is the best thing that's happened to me in 2020

Hi all,

This is the 5th issue of Light Gray Matters by me, Étienne. Today I will be talking about 2020’s hottest topic…

Online communities.

(Well, hottest topic for me, anyway.)

If you’ve known me for a significant amount of time, you might have heard me complain about my social life. I’ve never been very good at socializing. That’s in large part why I’m writing an ongoing two-part essay series about friendship. (Ongoing means I’m still writing part 2, so it’s technically not a series yet.)

I have some cool people in my life, but I crave more meaningful relationships, more stimulating conversations, more feelings of belonging to something. That was true before the pandemic, but of course the pandemic made everything that isn’t tech company stock worse, including that.

And then, back in September, while fooling around on Twitter (at the time, I only had 30-something followers), I randomly learned about the On Deck Writing, randomly applied, and randomly got in the first cohort. At no point in the process did I know what I was doing.

But it certainly was a good random decision! I joined a wonderful community of writers, met lots of cool people, and became a much better and more prolific writer. The very existence of this newsletter is in large part due to ODW.

(Hi, ODW peeps reading this! Thank you for existing!)

I’m glad I’m part of the On Deck community, but it isn’t even the best online group I’ve joined this fall. This title belongs to the Interintellect (aka the “ii”).

This community is centered around discussion salons about… just about any topic.

Just this coming week, we have, for instance: returning home from war, horror movies, antifragility, changes in education due to the pandemic, writing, holiday stories, working outside the corporate world, guilty pleasures in art, and even a mystery topic!

But more importantly, the ii is filled to the brim with astoundingly interesting people. Curious, fun, friendly people who are into intellectual conversation.

Which is exactly what I have been craving.

No wonder that less than two months after joining, I’ve started getting more seriously involved. (I’ll even host my own salon! See below.)

Some time ago, I tweeted this:

In the quest to find my people, I have made great progress. It feels good.

Until next week, rest assured that I remain

Friendly yours,


Come to my salon!

I’ll be hosting my own Interintellect salon on December 27! It’ll be about cultural evolution — we’ll be discussing memes, transmission of knowledge, tradition, and the analogy between culture and biology. I expect it’s going to be a lot of fun and educational, which is the best combo.

It’s open to everyone, for a modest fee. Feel free to join!

Buy your Salon ticket here

On Twitter: The Spiciest Thread I’ve Ever Written

Also very much in the theme of cultural evolution, and as part of my ongoing effort to document the origins of various baking ingredients, I wrote about the origins of spice consumption:

Aaaaand here are the customary ending buttons:

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