Feeling the Community

campfire crowd Tonight, I was talking to a new friend, someone who’s participated here for a while, but also someone I’d yet to meet in person. I asked her how she was doing, and it led to an interesting conversation. You see, a friend of her’s passed recently, and it brought up the question, “did you REALLY want to know?” She knew that I did, but we got into a chat about how sometimes, companies and people want us to feel that they care about us, but they don’t, and we know it. We feel it. Until we feel the right community, and we know they want us for who we are.

We ask people all the time how they’re doing, and rarely do we really want the deep story. But when we’re among people who care, when we’re among people who know about us, or people like us, then things change a bit. Right?

There are languages we use with these different communities. If I’m talking with Star Trek folks, I can talk about red shirts and they’ll smirk appropriately. If I talk to business people about company valuations, they know what’s what. My Dad talks poker so well that I have to ask him to educate me on the phrases from time to time, but then I can use that language when I talk with other poker folks.

There are ways we react and treat each other. In skateboarding communities, scars and scrapes are treasures to talk about. Failure is all part of learning to them. In San Francisco startup culture, failure’s a badge, too. But in New England, we treat things a bit more cautiously.

One thing’s for certain: you can’t fake community, and you can’t force it, either.

Just because I just bought the Panasonic DMC-LX3K (amazon link) doesn’t immediately mean that I want to join a community for that particular camera. But then, if I do, it’s hopefully to talk with other enthusiasts who are then going to encourage me or grow my skillset or provide some other value.

We don’t just join communities because we like a product or service or thing. We gather around people who feel what we feel, and we share passion for things that bring us some sense of pleasure or joy, or even healing.

Where are your communities? Where do you belong? What do you get from there? And finally, what would you tell the company who seeks to participate in a community with you?

photo credit wili_hybrid

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