Cigar Social Networking: The Online Smoking Section
Remember when you'd walk into a restaurant and be asked, "Smoking or non?" If you answered the former, you'd be escorted to a dedicated portion of the floor where you could light up before, during or after your meal. This ritual is disappearing in the physical world, but it's springing up online, where a "virtual smoking section" is taking form, connecting cigar smokers from around the world.
Obviously, there are plenty of resources on the web for the cigar community. The major industry publications, such as Smoke and Cigar Aficionado publish to the web, even with some exclusive content. Retailers – both brick-and-mortar and online pure-play – are numerous, and there are too many cigar blogs to count. The growth of social media has taken the online cigar community to a new level, though. The same utilities that enable 140-character conversations and elaborate digital friendship interconnections have emerged around the "fellowship of the leaf."
It may look as though the real world banishment imposed on smokers – first to smoking sections and then to cigar shops only ... or not at all – may be moving onto the internet. After all, everyone on Twitter can smell @DylanAustin's Camacho Select, right? Well, nobody wants to see or hear cigar chatter, even if it is self-selecting.
But, I wouldn't rush to celebrate or lament an online smokers' quarantine. Instead, we're contributing to venues that focus exclusively on our interests. We're opting in, not being forced out.
Social Cigar is a social network (duh) of the Facebook and MySpace variety. Members can customize their online cigar smoker identities, connect with existing friends and meet new ones, sharing their thoughts and feelings about shared experiences and interests. You'll find the basic features you'd expect from any social network; the added value comes form the underlying theme.
The other, CigarShout, is effectively Twitter for cigar enthusiasts. Proclaim your tobacconic thoughts 140 characters at a time, and keep track of the latest developments in our world with the "shouts" of users you follow. This community is still small, but it's growing. If you already tweet, the notion of maintaining a second Twitter-esque account may seem like too much trouble. Fortunately, CigarShout integrates with Twitter, so your shouts are simultaneously tweeted, allowing you to work from a single spot.
The cigar social networks are not a last resort. There are Facebook groups and fan pages for cigar smokers, and Twitter is home to plenty of cigar-related action. And, you can pick up cigar info here on Luxist – and check out our tweets, as well.
It's not banishment: the growing online cigar section is a destination of choice.