Communities are overhyped and here’s why.
Friendships matter more than communities. Remember those people we used to call friends? When your friends are not coworkers, but people who you enjoy spending your free time with, sharing your emotional states, going on a hike with… Those are the humans that build us up, hold us when we feel down, care for us sometimes more than family members do.
I believe the notion of friendships disappeared with the events of 2020. Friends suddenly became unavailable, new temporary online friends emerged, coworkers sort of became our friends… which was not so cool. It’s 2023 and I notice that we forgot the true value of friendships and focus too much on communities we are part of, not knowing what it really means besides just a group of people you tend to associate yourself with.
In the web3 space and the rising trend of the network states everyone is taking about the importance of community building, that every product should start with community, yet not many have real friends and very few know how to build lasting relationships with each other. With the clip thinking and lowest than ever attention span we cannot even remember what it feels like to really have a fiend and be with someone unconditionally, simply because you’re sharing a bond of a real friendship, a kind of an unspoken commitment to show up for each other no matter what. Be there for each other. This is long gone. Communities replaced friendships, while individuals join communities because of their… work. That’s true! People join communities because it’s their job: to be in the knowing of what’s going on in different communities to collect data and bring that data back to their own team, to benefit their organization. Quite disgusting.
Community has become a curse word. Everyone kinds of secretly hates this word by now. It is an over-used consumerism-driven notion that associates with the price tag of the product you’re offering. And if you’ve lost your community over time — your organization basically lost the status and is no longer seen as valuable to the crowd once interested in what you’re building. And trust me, they most likely won’t be up to coming back to you when you improve your comms or create a better product, you will stay a think of a past to them. People are cruel.
If you’re building a web3 anything, having a community is a must these days, it kind of replaced followers on social media. Or followers on social media are now called community, which is utterly absurd. If someone follows your brand it doesn’t mean they are part of what you call community, in most cases they are simply interested in checking out the progress of what you’re building from time to time or just use a follow button to keep track of projects that spike some degree of interest in them.
Everyone wants to create a community but no one knows how to sustain it over a respectable period of time.
So many projects I see starting with dozens of people caught up with the hype (usually with a desire to make money out of your product), attending a couple of your cute community calls and then, after around 2–3 months the hype dies off and all is left in your community calls are your community manager and the interns attending your weeklies.
I’ve experienced numerous discord channels, telegram and signal chats, clubhouse clubs and newsletters with zoom links rise and fall over the past 3 years: we have raised our social anxiety levels to the unheard of heights as fear of missing out has been oh so real since the end of the pandemic. Yet we have not found peace.
So many friendships have been broken.
So many connections have fallen out.
So many relationships ceased to exist.
So many people blocked each other and removed even memories of them from their life.
People come to communities when they have no friends or family to rely on. I’ve gone through that experience myself during my depression/dark night of the soul in 2017–18 as I found myself as one of the community leaders organizing events in NYC and bringing like-minded people together for spiritual practices, deep human connection and sharing visions on the future of culture and technology.
I’ve gone through that phase.
Physical community I’ve managed to build around me was indeed very helpful and very uplifting. It was an essential part of my spiritual journey to surround myself with like-minded, heart-centered people.
But it was a temporary thing.
As I left the city where I’ve build those connections I had to build new connections and new communities during my nomad life, up until today.
Gathering diverse people at one location and uniting over food and deep conversions is what I do the best but people stop valuing after a few meetings because there’s saturation of exposure to variety of people and people simply get tired of constantly making new connections. It helps to settle at one place and build deeper friendships from such community gatherings, but I have been so nomadic that it was virtually impossible to do so for me… Sometimes all we need is someone (just one person!) we have known for many years to be by our side, not someone who we have met recently at a conference and invited to our home for a dinner to connect with these new acquaintances. Sometimes we just need a friend, physically close to us.
Everyone needs a feeling of home with people and it’s not possible to build it over the internet or over a couple of in-person meetings. It takes time to build trust with individuals, it takes time and energy investment to open up and start being vulnerable with someone. And it takes being at one place for over a span of several months, which was never a case in my life since 2020. Yet I never stop trying building new friendships.
My openness, emotional nature and vulnerability killed my new relationships many times in the past and repelled many people out of my field, simply because it made them feel uncomfortable and unsure re how to be around me being so open and raw+real with them. Yet, I still believe that vulnerability is the key to building healthy and stable, long-term relationships. However, being vulnerable online is tricky, it’s definitely not for everyone. If in a physical setting, when you’re vulnerable with someone by sharing your deepest emotions it may overwhelm your audience, yet they will still hang out with you till the end of the event, and they won’t be able to hide from you… while in a digital environment they’ll just block you or ignore you, sending you bad vibes just because you’ve triggered something within them they didn’t know existed as we are always reflecting each other. In online spaces — the easiest thing one can do: quit the group and block the individuals who triggered you. Just hide behind your device: easy done. In physical space that would not be so appropriate, unless you’re really, really feeling uncomfortable. Usually, non-verbal communications helps to be more mindful and careful towards each other. In on-line setting, a huge percentage of communications is lost. Somehow people still manage to ignore that fact and keep attempting to build lasting relationships online…
Building a community takes many months, if not years. It takes physical meetings, 1:1 conversions with each community member, small group meetings and special incentives for your community members to keep coming back to your circle. It also takes a clear, consistent, and inspiring ideology to keep the good people around you for an extended period of time. It takes a lot of effort and you cannot buy it or fake it. It also takes excellent and strong leadership skills and not some shady DAO structure that is set for failure, because DAOs are a myth.
Most communities in the web3 are built around a hype of being associated with some influencer of that time or a topic of interest in the moment in time, or with quick money grab potential, or around a cause that is important for that individual. Most communities in web3 that I’ve been part of and observed died off as the bear market hit. Most people I’ve met in such communities have not become my friends and I’ve lost touch with them. In most cases the value being part of such communities was very low and it took more effort to research and join such entities than the joy experienced being part of them. Web3 ecosystems such as Eth are a different story, but those are not communities, they are closer to network states. I will share about that, in some other article, huge topic for me these days —observing and participating in such ecosystems…
Now, token-gated communities, what’s up with them? Well, it’s hard to believe that people payed and still pay fiat turned into imaginary money backed up by nothing but unstable technology we call crypto to join such communities. It feels like a joke to me and I’m sure with time we will all see the absurd notion of such entities. Token-gating is a scam, it’s just one of the ways to make some fake money on a temporary hype around some topic that no one will care about once a new thing comes around and these people flock elsewhere or wake up to their stupidity. You see, it’s too easy to join free communities and there are plenty of alternatives to everything available out there on the fields of the Internetverse, so why pay some imaginary money to be part of your exclusive luxe gated club of people who claim to be cool? Each of us is cool to someone. And don’t tell me there’s more utility than your cute little online gatherings, I simply do not buy it.
Let’s touch upon reputation-gating: I fucked your reputation metrics on me. Let’s face it: sometimes, we are simply not in a mood to be nice and not willing to fake it like it’s common in many western cultures. What are you gonna do, cancel me from your community for expressing my truth and sharing an opinion that is different from the people you oh so selectively gathered around you? Well, surely they did cancel me. I cannot even count anymore how many groups and so-called communities removed me for my authentic expression and how many vectors in form of different leaders just shut down my voice by blocking me. Did it bother me? Yes, surely it did, in most cases. It does not feel nice to be cancelled. For long? Nope, probably until I meditated and energy moved this situation off. I must say I have definitely built a thick skin as I’ve been intentionally testing many communities on their bullshit and fake ass comms as I’ve expressed myself openly and vulnerably just to see myself being dismissed and never invited back in. Do I care? Not at all. Why it is important to share with you here? Because that should not bother you either. Reputation-gating is the worst thing can claim to do if you are growing to be a respectable open-source organization that is what every web3 organization claims to be, especially when it comes to those they call their community members.
Building trust over time and irl is the key, not reputation-gating with your minions of humans who gather around you online simply because you’re oh so alpha it hurts. And building trust is hard and requires a long-term investment of time, energy, care, attention and money, and it also requires experiences of hard failures for you to grow a thick skin and really see the value in developing trustful, stable human relationships with those you want to align with for long term, not just for a lifespan of your so-called community.
Better learn creating loyal, healthy and reliable friendships first.
Communities shift (just like lovers and spouses!!), good friendships stay. And less is more, focus on quality over quantity and you will surprise yourself with who stays and who disappears from your field.