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Can Community Exist Online?

November 6, 2010

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I blog on not 1blog, but now 2. I use 2 twitter accounts: one for my blogging persona and one for my professional one. I use Facebook. Do I believe it’s possible to feel like you’re apart of a community in cyberspace? Heck yeah I do. You better believe it’s true.

The people I talked to argued that community required face-to-face interaction. I immediately disagreed. I think it is entirely possible to build a community and not have face-to-face interaction. Cyberspace is a new frontier people. Let me explain. In my opinion, building a sense of community does not require face-to-face interaction. I think communities are groups of people who feel commitment towards the well-being other group members and of the group as a whole. The people within the group provide one another social support. And group members feel comfortable coming to the group for such support. A face is not necessary, touch is not necessary. It is the commitment, need, care, and desire for the over-all progression of the group.

To suggest that knowing what other group members is an essential aspect of community building and relationship building seems to suggest that those who are blind are unable to build relationships and community because they do not know what others look like. That suggestion is ludicrous.

Perhaps, touch and sight make it easier to build relationships. Hence why it is easier to feel connected with bloggers who post lots of pictures of themselves. But equally important is the sense that you know someone. In my opinion, you know someone when you feel like people in the relationship are self-disclosing. In other words, they’re letting you into their lives. When people feel that you’re opening up to them, they tend to feel more comfortable to do the same. Thus, it is this self-disclosure that also helps to build relationships and a sense of community.

All these things do not require face-to-face interactions. They do not require me to have met my blog-buddies and my twit-hearts in person. Sure, some people may find me strange for calling these friends by their internet screen names. To these people I ask, “what makes this different from calling your in-person friends by their nicknames?”

I know I’m preaching to the choir. After all, you’re all reading a blog post right?

Do you think it’s possible to have relationships and communities where people do not have face-to-face interaction?

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From → Blog, Life, Technology

3 Comments
  1. 🙂 I definitely believe that a feeling of community can be reached online, even without face-to-face interaction.

    Proof of this is the Weddingbee community itself, where bride after bride (especially the bloggers) have provided testimony about how much the (enter key word) community of readers and bloggers have supported them. Case in point? Miss Brooch, who gained such a feeling of support from a card left for her at Kleinfeld’s when she was searching for a dress. A card, by the way, from someone she hadn’t seen face to face!

    So yes, yes, yes! 🙂 Community can exist without face-to-face interaction.

  2. Well, um…I am pretty sure that you know my feelings/thoughts on this particular subject. Community, in my opinion, consists of individuals who all have something in common…it doesn’t necessarily consist of people who are in close proximity to one another. Being a part of the Weddingbee community is one of the most rewarding experiences in my life thus far, I’d say. It always feels a little crazy to know that I am closer with some of my “online friends” than the ones I have in “real life.” It does make sense though…we are all member of a community and we all have one very large thing in common to begin with, so we have a starting point for the relationship to develop. And, just because we “met” online doesn’t mean that the online community can’t turn into a physical face-to-face one either – we schedule meet ups with other ladies in the area, our yearly BGW trips, etc! In this day and age, it really does seem that online communities are going to become more of the norm…

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