Communities and the Digital Age

A community can be defined pretty simply as a small or large group of people who share something in common; this could be anything from specific values to location. They have been present since the dawn of civilisation and have always been an intrinsic part of society. As we continue into the modern era the concept of communities are evolving from what they used to be.

Throughout history, there have been several different types of communities, which had both positives and negatives. In the 1970s a type of community that had garnered popularity were communes. Communes were based around the idea of communal living (hence the name) where possessions were co-owned and household chores were spread out amongst everyone. Even childcare was shared and anyone in the community could discipline you (which sounds like a nightmare as you essentially have like 20 parents watching you). This type of community meant that important values such as socialism and feminism were instilled from a very early age, meaning the people in these communities, learned to respect everyone and work as a collective (which is a skill most humans are lacking in 2017). However such mutually dependent living might suggest that an individual may not have had the freedom to explore their self-interests. Also as these communes lived in such a unified manner people outside of them often considered them to be cult like. When talking about communities one of the most popular ones that will spring to mind is tribes. A tribe, which was very common in the past and still are today, are communities that exist either outside of or before there were nation states. Tribes are known for being completely self-sufficient and share specific customs. An example of a tribe is the Himba people from the country Namibia. They cover themselves with a mixture of ochre and butter fat to protect themselves from the sun and to look beautiful. They are not reliant on the government of Namibia and grow their own produce. A negative of this type of community may be that they are globally cut off from others so they are not diverse. Whilst a positive of a tribe would be the sense of oneness you feel and that you would never struggle as the sense of community spirit means people will always help you.

The idea of the modern community is now defined by the digital age. As we all know technology and online platforms, such as social media have taken over, meaning that now more than ever it is easy to connect with anyone. It takes mere seconds to talk to someone half way around the world from you, showing that the global community has grown on a massive scale. Considering 2017 has been filled with misfortunate (Trump mainly), all over the world people have used the Internet to band together. When there are cases of police brutality (which now feels like everyday) people on Instagram share hash tags to raise awareness about the horrific injustice that has occurred. When there is a natural disaster, such as Hurricane Harvey that transpired just last week in Texas, people on twitter are sharing links to donation pages and important safety updates.   There are immense positives for a large community to able to connect at such a rapid rate. Yet this new online community has negatives as people are becoming more and more consumed in virtual reality leading to a kind of self-imposed isolation from the physical world. With people being able to see what their friends are up to on snap chat stories it is creating a disconnect as we do not even have a need to catch up with our friends in real life anymore.

In my opinion, communities are unequivocally important, as they cater to the needs of everyone whether it is physical or emotional. Also, humans are social creatures at heart and they provide a true sense of belonging, which we all crave. Yet we need to preserve real world communities in the modern age, as we need to stay physically connected and not just connected via a screen.


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