How can I explain, to my partner, that my online interactions, particularly here on Stack Exchange, are important and of value to me with the goal of them not feeling frustrated that I'm "wasting" my time?
My partner gets really frustrated hearing me talk about — or even seeing me on — Stack Exchange. It most often comes up in a conversational context. They'll mention something that relates to a question I answered or an interaction I had on Stack Exchange and I'll relate that experience. As in:
Oh, I just answered a question about something like that...
But they tend to not see online interaction as valuable or relatable as "real life" interactions. I would understand simple disinterest in online communities, but disinterest in common causes and topics because they're tied to online interaction seems a little odd.
SE is often meaningful to me because I like the altruism of it. Where else in your day-to-day life do you get to reach across oceans and continents and help someone with a question that's been bugging them?
There's also the community, or social, side of it. Over time you get to know people around the sites you frequent. Occasionally you even grow to like a few of them.
With Interpersonal Skills specifically, it gets a bit more meaningful... for me at least. One of my goals is to be the sort of person that I needed when I was younger. To reach out and help people dealing with some really difficult stuff. IPS gives me opportunities to do that. Offering an answer and a few kind words to someone on the other side of the world who's going through something that I've been through... Well that's some pretty good stuff right there.
I've explained all of this to my partner, at great length, over and over again. They still seem to think that it's a waste of time, and that I could be doing more meaningful things, in real life, like joining an activist/volunteer group, to accomplish some of those same goals.
I've ended up deleting the Stack App and cutting back my time on the network considerably, to be accommodating, and to make my time with them uninterrupted. I figured that it was just a time management issue at first, but it seems like they just don't understand why Stack Exchange is a little different than the usual internet forum and instead see it as a complete waste of time and energy to be involved in any online community.
Is there a polite way to explain why I use Stack Exchange to my significant other in a way that they'll be a little more inclined to accept that it's something that's important/valuable to me?