Missing Community

I’ve just finished delving into one of those works that is a collection of correspondence between a writer and others in the intellectual community.  Who the writer is isn’t really important because what really struck me is how we’ve lost this type of cross-pollination between people who share a common interest.

We have Internet forums, social media, and thousands of ways to connect, but I don’t see the type of interchange of ideas taking place anymore.  Books were discussed, professional advice exchanged, people introduced to other like-minded people.  We use the word “community” pretty loosely now, but the letters I read between various writers and artists showed how effective and interesting a social network could be that consisted of nothing more than a #2 envelope and some stamps.

I’d love to have a similar group of friends across the globe, intelligently discussing things, learning about others, and sharing books, manuscripts and artwork.  And we certainly have tried to use technology to make this happen.  Occasionally it does – I’ve always been appreciative when someone has taken the time to send me a link to some new info, or left a thoughtful comment.

But the thing we seem to lack is the “culture”, for lack of a better term.  And what I mean by culture is the ability to slow down, process our thoughts, and be able to engage, disagree, and learn without people’s feelings getting hurt, or competing against each other.

To build and elevate whatever your particular “thing” is.  By contributing our own unique piece to something that becomes part of a shared work, whatever form that takes.

Our blogs should certainly facilitate this type of exchange, but just responding with a quick comment isn’t really the same as writing a well-thought out page.  I know I’ve touched upon this subject in previous posts, but reading this particular piece made me think again about how our ability to exchange masses of data and information isn’t the same as being able to communicate a feeling or thought.

Most Internet forums I’ve become familiar with seem to last until the inevitable flame war breaks out, and everyone who has blogged has run into the commenter who’s only purpose is to be anonymously nasty.

When reading blogs, I’m as guilty as anyone when it comes to just posting a quick, usually congratulatory comment on someone’s blog or post I like.  We justify this by saying time is short and there is just not time to adequately respond, so, just this quick note…….

And speaking of time, I’ve not posted here as often as I’d like to, the common downfall of bloggers everywhere.  So perhaps it’s time I apply my own advice and devote time to what I think is important.

And sharing ideas and experiences is the most important thing there is.  Take that away, and what is left of life but the daily maintenance of it?




4 thoughts on “Missing Community

  1. Great to see you back Harry 🙂 I’ve been away from my blog as well and it sure is good to get back behind the wheel with a good internet connection LOL Boy do I hear you here! And I apologise in advance for the all too brief comment I will no doubt make… but yes… it seems that today’s world is far too busy to read or respond or contemplate anything for longer than just a very few minutes. Sad but true. I regret that this is how it is. But it is what it is. For my part I have always longed for the kind of interactions the Impressionists enjoyed in the salons and cafes of Montparnasse and Montmartre where ideas were exchanged and thoughts proffered; and emotions exploded in a vastly more productive way than they do today. We now have the internet but beyond a cursory few words… few ideas are actually exchanged let alone examined in depth. So many words… so little understanding. It is as you say often only a quick congratulatory comment… and beyond that only empty space. I think perhaps the hope for the future is that we learn to embrace the full spectrum of new media in our attempts to make that necessary human connection. I believe that will be the way things go and we may just have to roll along with it. Fingers crossed for us all LOL GREAT topic Harry… thank you 🙂

    • Glad to be back, Jean! I figured you’d understand the sense of community and give-and-take I was talking about. As an artist you know how important those cafes have been to spawning various ideas and movements.
      I think the explosion of social media and methods available to us over just the past few years has people spread thin, but that everyone will eventually learn to narrow down to their particular field of interest instead of trying to pay attention to it all like we do now. There were a lot fewer magazines and newspapers years ago than there are blogs, sites, etc. now, and it was humanly impossible to keep up with more than a few publications even back then.
      It’s the old kid-in-a-candy-store metaphor, which usually ended up giving us a stomachache before we learned to discriminate!

  2. I long for discussion. I don’t have a network of personal friends to talk to in real life but have a need to interact. I have a few faithful commenters but what I really wonder is, if we write these thoughtful posts that beg for input, and hundreds of people see it, why do they have nothing to add? My reasons for not commenting are either the post is not interesting enough to me, or time issues like everybody else. So the same reasons must apply to most people.

    Oh to be part of a group like the Algonquin Table! There’s not one soul I personally know with whom I can test my intellect or joy of words! I’m dying here, but it doesn’t matter where I live!

    But Harry, lately I’ve been thinking that I’m going to write anyway. Maybe we should think of it almost as an obligation.

    • Maybe it is one more way in which the Internet has spoiled us – we discover interesting, stimulating people and conversations online and it makes the people in our day-to-day lives seem kinda dull! It is always great to get comments and even emails, but I agree that you should just put things out there, regardless of the reaction. You may gain or lose a few followers, but to be too aware of your audience and what they might think is stifling.

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