On finding community

I’ve been reflecting on my relationship hi with social media and, to some extent, the Internet in general.

Mostly I’ve been considering what I’m looking for when signing up for these services. What purpose do they serve in my life or what void I’m trying to fill by scrolling through status updates.

I know I’m not looking for twenty three updates a day on the potty-training challenges of high school acquaintances I feel obligated to follow. I know I don’t want to read about what piece of virtual farm equipment they would most covet, either.

Recent news regarding Twitter and the direction they are heading coincides with my own questioning of how I use the service. I wasn’t around back in the early days, but Myke Hurley’s post On Twitter makes me nostalgic for that time. Sentiments in Patrick Rhone’s essay Twalden have inspired me to (temporarily?) delete the twitter client from my devices.

So then what am I looking for?

Frightening news yesterday from Patrick Rhone, and the subsequent reaction to it, drove it home for me: community.

Not networking. Not celebrity news. Not SEO tips, or unique visitors or page views. Certainly not funny videos about cats.

But instead a genuine sense of community. I think we all want a place where friends can support us when a loved one is sick, or share with us things that inspire them. And by “friends”, I mean real people with common interests, not car dealerships or mayonnaise manufacturers.

Will flame out? Will it go the way of other networks before it? I don’t know. I hope not. Right now it has the potential to be a great community for its users, and I hope it stays that way.