Get Thee to a Community

One of the many tiresome things to come out of the last tiresome election cycle is the constant talk about living in bubbles. Mostly it is used as a charge to levy at one’s political enemies in order to accuse them of being out of touch. I’m not interested in visiting that discussion. This blog is not a political one and will never be a political one.

At the heart of this charge, though, is a true fact about modern life. We have sorted ourselves into likeminded communities and in many cases isolated ourselves from people more than ever. The Internet and social media have exacerbated this problem and we often gather in tribes online as well.

Now it’s not all bad, for example it can be good and invigorating to find people who like things you like and the Internet can remove geographic barriers to this kind of interaction. That in and of itself is a good thing.

On the other hand, sometimes we stop doing things with people around us. We do not interact with neighbors or people in our town. We never talk to people who hold views different than ours. Perhaps only at our jobs and maybe family reunions are we forced into groups we might not choose. I’m not sure that this is a good thing.

Recently I attended a small-town production of the musical Oklahoma in Missouri. It was done far better than I expected and I was struck by the number and variety of people involved the production. There were old folks, high school kids, and people in between. There were farmers, hippies, teachers, etc. all taking a part in bringing the musical to life. Apparently the community theater is a big part of the identity of the town and they work hard to keep it going. That showed in the quality of the work.

Watching that musical inspired me to seek out offline community. To log off and look for ways to do things together. I’m not talking about some great conference where everyone makes speeches or congratulates themselves on how much they are coming together. There is value in those kind of things, but I think so much could be accomplished simply by doing things together.

So log off, go outside, find somebody to do something with. Better yet, find several somebodies. Yeah, there may be some awkward moments. Perhaps you won’t always know what to say. Some of them might even be irritating and annoying, but that’s community. Our would and our society might be a little better if we took some time to do stuff together.

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