Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Question of Community

A discussion about community came up in an online forum in which I participate. Is and online forum a community? What makes a community? I had given my two cents on that forum, but the sock puppets hit me, so I deleted and decided to broach the subject here.

The Webster definition is as follows:

1: a unified body of individuals: as a: state, commonwealth b: the people with common interests living in a particular area ; c: an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location d: a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society e: a group linked by a common policy f: a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests g: a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society

With regards to that online forum, or any for that matter, I don't think the word fits. The first word I question is "unified". With unification comes cohesion, a glue that bonds things together. And while the online forum I speak of is mostly a group of writers, I don't feel that commonality is enough to make us cohesive. And frankly, that word also for me, implies some kind of mutual fondness for each other, which, at least on the forum in which I speak, does not apply to some.

The next phrase I question is "common interests". While we all came together because of a writing contest, many of us do not share much of the same interests at all outside of that. Even within that "common interest" lies differences. Literary vs. genre fiction, writing style, first or third person, past or present tense.

The definition also talks about living together, in the same geographical area. As the people participating in this forum are from all over the world, that is also out the door.

So, what is a better word for this group of people from all over the world, with different personalities, beliefs, backgrounds, cultures, religions, and political views? Some of which are fun and kind, some of which are toxic.

Society doesn't fit, as again it speaks of common goals and good manners (which are seriously lacking sometimes).

A network doesn't really apply as it is socializing for professional or personal gain, and many of us are strictly there for the commeraderie and friendship.

You know what word I like?

Here is it from thesaurus.com

CLUSTER
Part of Speech:
noun
Definition:
group of something
Synonyms:
array, assemblage, band, batch, bevy, blob, body, bunch, bundle, chunk, clump, clutch, collection, covey, crew, gathering, hunk, knot, lot, pack, party, set

Isn't it beautiful? A group of something. We're something all right. Something funny, something caustic, something beautiful, something ugly, something talented, something awkward, something happy, something depressed, something discouraged, something that believes, something that hopes and dreams.

That is us. Cluster.
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My Dad. He's awesome.

John Messina, Personal Injury Attorney

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