Craving Community in a Digital World
Craving Community as a Millenial
A real sense of community is needed more than ever. The digital world can coexist with face-to-face interactive community experiences. Local group events are needed for true connection with fellow human beings. Digital tech and social media can facilitate in-person communities.
Digital and in-person experiences do not have to be an either-or. Social media is not in itself a bad thing. The way we use this technology can be helpful or harmful.
The popularity of social media is clearly evident. It can either be seen as a threat or an opportunity. Facebook had "1.18 billion daily active users on average for September 2016". Twitter claims to have 313 million monthly active users. Instagram recorded 600 million active users in December 2016, with an increase of 100 million in the 6 months prior. Social media is growing. It should be augmented with existing life, not contained as a world of its own.
Digital environments and local community groups must start getting along. A viral presence can be amazing. Personal online branding can be a change. However, online life is only part of a wholesome existence. How many of your Instagram followers would attend your birthday party? How many Twitter followers will even say something nice at all? For every Twitter star, there are trolls ready to remind us that the internet is not a safe haven from the harshness of reality.
Social media can be a lovely place. It is just not the only one. I enjoy watching updates from people I cannot always see in person. Actual friends, from past life stages, share photos of their various adventures. Facebook is currently the quickest way to spread the word about big announcements - such as illness, births, deaths and marriages. The online space provides valuable information about our lives and how we can improve wellbeing.
Online success must compliment "real-world" interaction. Meetup continues to bring like-minded people together, to events based on shared interests. Live Tweets can add to conversations during place-based events. Facebook "event" pages are efficient ways to spread awareness of actual gatherings. There are so many digital tools that can help community groups.
Many community groups and organisations are now struggling, competing against the social fulfilment of online "likes" and "follows." This is a crushing trend to watch. I was brought up in a family that was very active in the community. Spirituality became informed through informative groups. Skills were developed in educational clubs. People have so much to gain from meeting face-to-face.
Flexibility is one of the solutions to strengthen community groups. Life is more fast-paced and unpredictable. Travel requirements are quite common. Online resources are now expected from stakeholders. Community organisations and associations must modernise, by combining their existing experiences with today's technology.
Plenty of online individuals would be glad to know their local events, which are held close to their workplaces or homes. Location-based online PR is essential. Centralised organisations must now decentralise their messages. Meetup groups should exist based on immediacy to locations. Facebook pages should outline benefits for local audiences. By all means, tell the whole world about the amazing work by the nearest groups. However, remember to target online messages to people who are most relevant.
Online connections are essential for modern survival of local community groups. Face-to-face interaction continues to be a crucial form of engagement in modern life. People do not have to be isolated by the technology they consume. Tech should be used as a tool to enhance a thriving balanced life. It takes a village.