Monday, December 7, 2009

Community, What's That?

In both the real and virtual world, communities are created and joined everyday. Communities grant its members a sense of belonging, a strengthened identity, and allows them to meet and connect with people with common interests. These relationships often grow and evolve into lasting friendships that continue even if one leaves that community. Community is extremely important. It brings people together. Currently, however, there is a shortage of real community. While Facebook is an idealized and hyper-used online community, chances are most of your friends on Facebook won't watch your pet while you're out of town, be your best man or maid of honor at your wedding, and most of them will not try their best to help you get a job. The type of communities that are currently being built are weak and do not provide the same support that communities in the past have. This is certainly not a suggestion that real life communities are better than virtual one, in fact, real life communities can maintain the same amount of superficiality that some virtual communities do. What is being suggested is that it is the members of communities that are the ones who prevent the strengthening of relationships in communities.

Is it better to have 200 acquaintances or 5 friends you can count on? When it comes to getting a job, sometimes it is all about WHO YOU KNOW not WHAT YOU CAN DO. And perhaps in that case, one of those 200 acquaintances will be able to help you out. But really, will someone actually help you? Do they care about you or do they need to focus on themselves? We live in a society of the "me" not the "we".

Food for thought: If we immersed ourselves in real communities that build on strong relationships, finding and getting a job would be much simpler. Community members would look out for one another, help each other when we need it, and no one would "be in it alone." Building this kind of community is exceedingly difficult, however, because "community building" has now become as easy as clicking a button. Just because you join a community does not mean you are actually in a community.

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