Reverb Prompt:   Community.  Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010?  What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

I read some touching responses to this “community” prompt today.  So many of us have found such comfort, support, and friendship through community online and offline.

I’m going to turn this prompt on its head.  Frankly, I’m tired of the overuse of the word “community.”  Social media has given the word a bad taste in my mouth.  It has become an abstract.  I get lost in abstracts.  While I understand the essential human need for community, not every group of three people needs to be considered a community.  I think there are far too many people trying to create a fake community as a platform for themselves.  A group of people who develop around my words, such as my commenters or Twitter followers, should not be considered a community, unless you consider me a cult leader.   A community is a give and take.

Maybe I’m being old-fashioned.  Maybe a community can grow around anything online, from Walmart to babywearing.   I guess we all belong to 100s of tiny communities online.  So what?  Has this made us less lonely or happier?  I saw more community fighting online than ever before.   Everyone wants to make each community into their own image.

I want to escape this world of abstracts.  It makes me ill to think of you as “traffic” or “a platform” or “followers.”   Maybe I’m the only one thinking that the word “community” means something more profound, and I’m not catching the wry winks you give each other, indicating that we all are in on the charade.

I don’t want to join, create or deeply connect with ANY community in 2011.  I want to connect with individuals.  That is my goal for 2011.  Boo community.  It will be the year of the Individual.

I can go on and on about the many different individuals I met this year, but I will just mention one, mostly because she was the first one who popped into my head.   She is a good-hearted individual that I connected with this year.  She is a nurse and mother on Twitter.   She is very supportive, and gave me good advice during the long illnesses of Sophia’s stepfather, despite having her own family challenges to deal with at home.   Thanks Heather.  And thank you to the other individuals online who made my year special.  You may be part of my community, but it is your individuality that touched me most.