Facebook and Twitter have been in the news a lot recently along with other Internet social networking sites.
The Thursday news was all about the "tea parties" where all sorts of like minded people gathered together to protest federal spending. I was watching CSI on Thursday evening and the plot involved this gathering of Star Trek fans.
Thursday morning I had occasion to wait in a couple of businesses. While I was waiting I observed the people who worked at the places and they interacted with each other and us customers.
At lunch on Thursday an old friend and I visited about a place we used to work and how much we appreciated our co-workers and how much fun we had working there.
So all of that started me thinking about community and what it means to be a part of one.
For one thing I thought that location and proximity are two things that have drastically changed about defining community. Not that there ever was a truly agreed definition in the first place. But used to we talked about how it was a group of people at a particular place. The Internet redefines place to something beyond geography although just what is hard to say.
Another thing that occurred to me was how some ideas or purposes become more important than others for a community. For instance the "tea parties" had people from all different kinds of backgrounds but they united around one particular idea. Facebook is kind of like that, too. Relationships trump other stuff there it seems to me.
I've seen that before many times. One time a group of us got together in a very informal way to raise money to honor a beloved teacher by funding a scholarship in her name. We were all opposites in so many ways but we united because we truly loved and respected that teacher.
There's a little group of us that read each other blogs and post entries and so on. We've become a community.
The more I think about it the more uncertain I am exactly what truly constitutes community.
But I have learned that it is really important.