So what exactly is community? My interpretation is a place of nurturing, a safe zone – somewhere I feel comfortable. Now Merriam Webster has a slightly different take, but it is a definition with many variances. I will recount a few of them here: “a unified body of individuals: as a :state or commonwealth; b : the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly : the area itself ; c : an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location.”
My reflection of community is best associated with example ‘c’ – an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location. That I believe is a good definition of Facebook, and remarkably I have found a definite home on this social networking site.
This year as I dealt with the passing of my mother the many messages and heartfelt sentiments received from both near and far acted as a healing balm and made this most difficult time more bearable. During and after this time the many messages that were meant just to bring a smile achieved their goal. I also reconnected with many people I had not heard from in more than 20 years, so I would say that social networking sites have become a community of support for me.
Additionally, in the last several weeks I have participated in a number of classes online that have opened up many new communities. In particular the participants in two classes over at Big Picture Classes – “The Gift of Words” and “Picture the Holidays” have been inviting and represent a true interacting population of various kinds of individuals. Primarily women, but I have noticed a man or two in the forums, we all hail from various corners of the world and have been brought together in support of an art with all love.
With all of this online activity is there a face-to-face community I am hoping to join or re-engage? I would say that the passing of my Mom has left a huge void in my family and that sense of community is something that I am longing for particularly during this time of year. I will pray, meditate and contemplate the best ways to remedy this situation.
In the meantime I will continue to value my new online communities and nurture the face to face communities I belong to and call home.