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More thoughts about communities

During the day, I’ve been thinking of communities, more specifically online.

In reply to:


What I don’t like about that word

I got to say that in the last few years I've disliked the empty definition of community as people being together.

People around products

An interesting point was said. People using something could be a community?

I find that when a company or creator builds something around their product, like a forum or chat to bring together their users.

From the ‘utilitarian value’ side, this helps with support and network effect. The intrinsic value of the product is bigger if more people are using it.

But this is not the feeling of community I'd expect. It would be people taking care of each other, above the limits that a product offers to their consumers.

Are followers a community?

I've heard of content creators talking about 'their community'. Let’s say, millions of followers.

Their relationship lies on comments on a video platform, a blog or some chat and that's it. Perhaps they could travel to some city and watch a live show.

In that moment are they a community? What's missing?

I've found in books like "Internet is my religion"

Youtube - Jim Gilliam: The Internet is My Religion

cases where the online talk converted into genuine human relationships, although it required money, politics, illness, difficult moments, and other sensitive topics making it ‘more real’.

Or I remember the case of a Mexican streamer whose family received donations and presents when he died. Maybe their community was strong enough?

Cities and religions

I've seen that word frequently in neighborhoods or religious groups.

In my case, I don't talk that much with my neighbors, and when I was into religion, I didn't feel the sense of shared interests, rather than adoring some divine entity.

On the other side. I’ve heard from friends that people in their religion help their ‘brothers and sisters’, so it could be the case.

We need communities to belong to something

So… gathering around a consumer product, some god, or a physical place, helps with our need of belonging.

We need friends, peers and acquaintances. Selfless people around us. I think finding selfless people is the tricky part.

If we are all begging for attention, but not being genuinely interested in others, I think, the sense of community disappears.

What about Gemini?

Gemini is not a community. Perhaps on BBS where you can get a conversation going and enough people and sustain it over time.

I think we need some tools to connect people together. In Gemini, for me, it’s “antenna”, the only aggregator I use. This helps me to know if someone has replied to anyone else, and manually making a connection between topics and people.

I know there are other aggregators that follow links automatically, simulating a thread like in a Forum or discussion list, but I don’t use them.

Community happens more with realtime chats like IRC or `com` on SDF,

And about ‘real-time’, well… A few years ago we talked of Gemini, by design, being a ‘Slow Net’. Not needing an immediate response, but allowing a few days between replies. I know... that feels weird.

Stretching the point, I think we don't need to talk with our friends by phone every day, to remain friends. A few mails a year would suffice, although it's not the same as having lunch or having a drink together in the same city.

I've thought about whether it's possible to have online-only friends. Perhaps by texts, audio or videos.

I have a few online friends, and although we’ve discussed traveling to be in the same physical space at some point, is that a "real friendship"?

Philosophical questions aside, and going back to communities…

I think the main obstacle for online communities is the lack of a deep connection.

I remember someone who got divorced, they shared their feelings on Gemini and received many support messages.

On the other hand, someone could stop pushing texts to the aggregator, and we’ll never know of them again. We won’t know if they was sick, sad or extremely happy.

We are semi-anonymous, behind a nickname and texts going slowly. Saying, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ or starting a video-call could help.

I think when we unite two or more humans, allow me the idea, in mind, and perhaps in soul, we’ll have a community.



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