Lover alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
– >William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
Communities share an identity of sorts. This identity is affected by intentions, beliefs, resources, preferences, and risks. Community identity is also affected by its stickiness, by its adhesion. We sometimes call community members adherents; in this we generally refer to those who are following.
I wonder what makes us stick to one another in community. Mutuality? A desire to belong? Passion for a cause or idea? Love?
Some time ago, I mentioned during a visit to Madison that I wondered if the term community was truly accurate to describe the experience of online groups. I had already had experiences when I voiced this question before twenty-somethings and faced expressions ranging from horror to disgust to bewilderment. Their looks suggested that this old man had horns. This time, however, I thought my questioning of the use of the term community would be less harshly judged, given the older cohort with whom I was conversing.
Then this: “You are talking jibberish. You have no idea what an online community is. My group of women chats daily and does big things together without ever meeting.”
I will be interested to see what happens to that group at the edge of doom.