Community

It is getting late and it is very hot in here.  These both are important because they should keep this post from being too long.

One topic on Alberta Primetime yesterday was communities.  The analysts echoed a number of views that have been banging around in my own noggin’ for a while.

Caveat before I rant.  I like the Internet.  I appreciate the sheer amount of data present and while it is not immediately apparent I think the amount of knowledge available to the average person is great too.  Additionally the global aspect of the site, hindered only by language barriers, is a trait worth promoting.  Finally the software available and the art available are excellent tools and culture builders.

It seems to me that the idea many people have of community is changing.  Thirty years ago your community was primarily localized around your place of residence – your nieghbourhood.  You might belong to additional groups that are large enough to be considered a community as well – your church, school, workplace and maybe a service club (Kin, Rotary, Knights, etc).

Now our communities are often virtual and globalized, but they exist primarily of people that share our views and interests.  Alternatively they are immersive and ubiquitous because of social media that we do not associate with other communities even when the opportunity is present.  My age group is right at the precipice of adopting this view.  I think that it is commonly accepted by many or most younger people.

This might seem counter-intuitive.  I live in a far more diverse society now than I did as a child.  But since I left work, I only commonly talk with people from different cultures when I order food.

A selfish reaction might be that this is a good thing.  We may not enjoy associating as much with people of different backgrounds, political, social and religious views.  We are eager to share our interests with people that are receptive.  I believe though that there is far less strength in homogeniety than diversity.

Diversity will challenge our viewpoints, requiring us to either defend them or amend them or stubbornly dig in our heels and ignore others.  Diversity forces us to learn of alternative ways of thinking and of approaching problems.  It encourages debate rather than a ‘follow the pack’ mentality.  It exposes us to new knowledge which we might not find in our peer group as the same ground is retread over and over again.

There is also a strength in you local community.  A local community will prevent or deter crime.  There are common problems and opportunities vis-a-vis  taxes, community facilities and bylaws.  Your neighbour can watch your house or dog during vacation or lend you a cup of sugar.

Social media is certainly a contributor to this redefinition.  So is wireless technology like texting.  But it isn’t the only driver.  The media and crime has taught us to fear our neighbours just in case.  Big box stores mean we shop with thousands of strangers instead of a few dozen acquaintances.

My challenge to you, one which I am uncomfortable of doing myself, is to find out about your local community league or to invite your neighbour over for coffee. Don’t turn your back of your locl community completely in favour of the new ones you may be a part of.

Or maybe I just miss interacting with people at work.

Good luck and good night.

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