How Our Sense of Community has Changed
Words have changed definitions and meanings within our society. In this post, I will be focusing specifically on the word, “community”. Merriam-Webster has a few definitions of the word community. The first being “a group of people who live in the same area (such as a city, town, or neighborhood)”. This definition is the definition of community used during the oral and script eras. When physical boundaries played a role in our society, people were only friends with others that were in the general area of each other. There was really no chance of a long-distance relationship with someone. It was simply unrealistic. You would be able to mail someone during the script period, but to have a long-standing relationship with someone was highly unlikely. Not only were people friends with one another in their “community”, but they also relied on one another. Your neighbor could have been your butcher and your brother in law. You could have multiple relationships with the people around you. Everyone had their own role and was a piece of the puzzle. People during these time periods also had basically the same ideas and opinions. Since people didn’t have a lot of access to areas far away from them, they were not really aware of other cultures, or ideas. Wherever you were from, truly defined who you were. Everybody knew each other and everybody agreed with one another. There was never a choice in what people wanted to be a part of. You were born into your community and that was that. In the video about the Amish we watched, you can see that there wasn’t really any disagreement with one another. Everyone in their community shares ideologies, and as stated earlier, they all rely on each other. If a barn was to come down in a storm, the community would come together and rebuild the barn.
They wouldn’t look for payment or a thank you, it would just be done. This is the way communities were. The other part of the definition of community that Merriam-Webster uses is, “A group of people who have the same interests, religion, race, etc.”. Now this can be applied to communities in script and oral periods, but this would apply more towards online communities during the post-modern, or late-modern era. Online communities, unlike real world communities, are based off of choice. The online community is based off of interests and things that people have in common. Anyone can go online and find a community that they might belong to. In one of the videos for this week, the creator of Reddit explained that Reddit is really a melting pot of online communities. It doesn’t matter what your interest is, if you have an interest in it, there is a very good chance that there is a subreddit that you can go to join your own community.
Not only are online communities different in the way that you can choose which community that you are a part of, but you also don’t have to be a major factor in your community. By this I mean that you can put as much effort into it as you want. Professor Soha gave the example that he went on Reddit to ask people about old radios and what parts he needed to fix his. They gave him all the stuff that he needed and that was the end of that. Nobody is asking for anything in return in online communities. People just discuss what their interests are with one another. Online communities are much more “laid back” than the communities of old were. Online communities are also where Miller’s concept of networked individualism comes to being a factor. Networked individualism means that place to place connections are less of a factor as opposed to person to person connection because of the advancement of technology like phones, tablets, and laptops. Relationships are centered around the person instead of the place that they are from. Members of each community and networks perform the roles that are needed by them. Referring back to the example of the people on Reddit. Professor Soha asked the individuals for their help, and they delivered. The communities are there for a reason, and asking for help, or discussing certain topics and interests within those communities allow them to actually be considered a community. Communities in the late-modern era have dial it back a lot since the oral and script periods, even though, there still are some similarities in them.