The Changing Structure of Communities
Community has been defined in the past as a social group of people that are cohesive in a larger connection of participation that share common goals and usually a geographical location. However, in this new technological era the definition of community is drastically changing as “there is talk about the loss of ‘real’ community (Willson 3).” Block parties nowadays are on the verge of extinction and it is becoming more and more rare if people even know the names of the people that live next door, not to mention the people on their street. With almost everything in our lives the structure of communities are changing and increasingly going digital. Which comes to the question of what makes a virtual community?
The well-known social network Facebook cannot only be known as a place to chat with your friends but is turning into a community, which has all of the aspects that make and hold a community together: bonding and connection, reciprocity and recognition, commonality and identity.
Other than your own personal profile and friends, Facebook offers a plethora of groups on subjects that range from nationalism to wildlife. These groups offer a sense of bonding or connection not only Facebook itself but to other members of the Facebook community.
Furthermore, Facebook groups also offer a wall, in which people may discuss subjects with other members, submit their opinion and even upload photographs related to the cause. They keep order by employing rules for groups and the choice to report someone for bad misconduct.
Finally, all of the groups are born out of a commonality of all of their members’ interests and therefore you may learn a lot about someone’s identity from viewing what kind of Facebook groups they have joined.
Everyday our lives are becoming more and more digitalized; we spend more time online in our everyday lives than almost anything else. We store our lives in technology from our emails, to friends phone numbers, to our work. Which comes to the question: are virtual communities the communities of the future?
In my opinion no, sure we will always have our friends and family and even close neighbors that we speak to as a community and even maybe a sports community on the side. People will always need face-to-face interaction in their everyday lives and community events are a way to do that, especially children’s events. We will have our online communities but there will always be a Blueridge Days and a West Van Days, a rebirth of the community once a year so that the community will not be forgotten, for what it offers: a chance to meet the people around you and have a laugh while doing so. As long as people keep the concept of a “real” community alive, it will live on. Online communities are coming to their peak and at some point or another the “real” community will catch up maybe not completely, but for a time the space in between will shrink as at the end of the day you’d rather see a person than read how well they can type.
Willson, Michele A. Technically Together: Rethinking Community within Techno-society. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc, 2006.