No. This time I'm talking about the actual word "community." Not a proper noun. Just a regular, everyday, run-of-the-mill noun.
Dictionary.com has many definitions for the word "community," including:
- "a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists"
- "similar character; agreement; identity"
- "the community, the public; society"
Now, aside from my annoyance over the use of a word to define itself, I think those are pretty clear. Generally, these three definitions are what I have in mind when I talk about community below.
Good, that business is out of the way. Time for the meat of the post!
I graduated from college in 2002. I went to a Lutheran school, and while I was there, I felt I had a church community to which I belonged. I also had my school community, and many of both of those groups remain my friends today.
However, shortly after graduation, I realized that the whole church thing just wasn't for me. I no longer identify myself as a Christian, and most often refer to myself as an atheist. (We can save the religious debates for another time - I have given a lot of thought to this issue over the years, and it's not what this topic is ultimately about).
I have a group of friends - fantastic friends, the best a girl could ask for - who are probably best described as the "Becky Community," at least from my point of view. They're my community, but it's a small one. My family, smaller than my group of friends, also fits into this group, as I share a lot of friends with my family members.
I have a job, and with that job comes a number of coworkers (hello, coworkers!) who I consider to be my work community.
Aside from that, I have nobody. No more communities from which to meet new people. No outreach beyond the limitations of Facebook. Since I no longer belong to any church, I don't have that group to draw from.
I suppose, geographically, I have the city of Minneapolis as a community. But these days, no one goes out and talks to their neighbors. I talk to the people who live in the other side of my duplex because we share a garage and a front door. I've spoken to the neighbors in the next house over because their dog will sometimes run over to our yard. But that hardly makes it a community. Generally, we're a society of loners. Loners who don't trust other people with their names, let alone open themselves up to the vulnerabilities of friendship.
Where the hell am I supposed to meet new people? I can't just go knocking on people's doors - they'll think I'm trying to sell them something!
"But wait!" you readers yell, "There's one community left! The Internet!"
Right! How could I forget about you, my beloved interwebs?
You see, everyone who reads this blog becomes part of this online community. We share our stories and our thoughts. That's one of the things I learned at the Minnesota Blogger Conference, after further reflection. There is a strong blogger community here in Minnesota. In the last week I've met a lot of new people, and even more people have stopped by here at Things You Really Didn't Want to Know.
(Hmm. Just realized how wordy my blog title is. Might need to think up a new one and make "tyrdwtk" the subtitle.)
So I want to thank all of you. Thank you for reading my blog and sharing your blogs and your thoughts with me. Thank you for being my community.