The changing face of community

This morning when I clicked onto my blog, I was disappointed to see that my post on accessing education had vanished.  I was not happy to see that my writing had just disappeared like this, because my post was an important article which involved me revisiting a difficult time in my life.  Nevertheless, after chatting with other bloggers on twitter, I found out that blogger had been doing some maintenance work which had caused a temporary disappearance of some posts and comments.  This has now been rectified and it is with great relief that I can announce that this blog is now fully operational once again.  Yipee!
But what this temporary blip made me realise is how I have taken for granted the technology that has enabled me to write and connect with other people.  I suddenly became aware that without the people behind the scenes that create and maintain this technology, I would not have a platform for my thoughts and ideas.  Not being able to use my blog also made me realise how important blogging has become in my life as it provides not only a vital form of personal expression but also a sense of community.  I can read first-hand accounts of people’s lives that can have the power to move me, inspire me or even make me laugh.  I can share ideas and experiences with others or I can simply sit back and enjoy the talents of those who excel in photography, artwork or storytelling.  In other words I have become part of a dynamic online community.
But this has made me think about how my community has differed to my mum’s experiences during the 1970s.  In those computer-free days, my mum was part of a closer knit community when neighbours used to talk to one another a lot more.  Their gossip, ideas and experiences was shared through face to face discussion over the garden fence, over a mid morning cuppa or walking to and from school.  Over 30 years later and our lives are busier, working hours are longer, more women work, more of us drive and as a result there seems to be less opportunities to connect with our neighbours.  Certainly this is what is happening along my road where many people leave their front doors, walk a few steps and get into their car without so much as a hello or a wave to anyone, a cycle that is then reversed at the end of their working day.  And even when they come home, I don’t see them.  I often wonder whether they, like my family, spend their evenings with the very technology that has recently become home to my new online community. 
Of course, unlike my mum, I have special needs kids and with that brings a unique set of challenges that can make it even harder to connect with my local community.  Not only do some people avoid us but we also face difficulties in getting our children out and about.  So the community that I am physically part of is not the cosy one that my mum experienced all those years ago when neighbours talked to one another and helped one another out.  Indeed I cannot recall the last time I spoke with my neighbours or anyone else living down my street – even the obligatory Christmas cards are dwindling.  This is not community as far as I am concerned but merely a place where I live with my husband and children and the occasional pet or two.
 And yet I have found another community that can be accessed through the click of the button – the online community that has given me an opportunity to engage with other people and escape the isolation of parenting autistic children.


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7 Responses to The changing face of community

  1. Aspie in the family says:

    >Hi Fiona – I know what you mean. I'm quite new to all this online networking too and I'm not sure I would want to give it up either. I find it a great way to connect with others. x

  2. Fiona says:

    >I'm lucky, living in a small village I do have the opportunity to talk to neighbours. Some work from home on or nearby farms so working hours can be odd and people are around during the day. However, other than passing the time of day I often find that we don't have a great deal in common and that's where the online community comes in. I haven't been around here for very long but I'm not sure I would like to give it up. I like most of the people I've met. I love reading blogs, chatting on twitter and feeling connected. xx

  3. Aspie in the family says:

    >Hi CJ, thanks for commenting. I agree that online communities have become very important to many people and for people who are isolated for whatever reason, I think they provide a great link to society. Looking at the responses on twitter when google was down, it makes me wonder how people would react if the online world was suddenly not there. x

  4. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    >I could have written this post myself, except I live in the middle of nowhere and have no neighbours. My neighbours and friend congregate online and that's fine by me. I have personal friends at home of course, but only a few. I wouldn't want to be without my blog now. The online communities have definitely, in my opinion, taken over our existence as social human beings.

    CJ xx

  5. Aspie in the family says:

    >@ Steph – I think you are right; some people don't know what to say or do so stay away. Perhaps I ought to be more proactive with them but its hard when its difficult to get out of the house yourself. Thanks for the offer to meet up – maybe one day we will catch up. x

    @ Looking for blue sky – its great to hear that community spirit does exist – I think my area could learn something from your community. Saying that I've just started going to a support group which is now helping me to connect with people from the wider area. However, it would be nice to have neighbours that I can chat with now and then.

  6. Looking for Blue Sky says:

    >In Dublin I do still feel part of my community: I know most of my neighbours and speak to them when I see them and we all help each other out. There's a community 'family fun day' coming up – awful name, but great annual event – and that really brings people from the wider area together.

    But none of them have much to do with special needs – most of the recent support for that has come from the on-line community: just like you x

  7. Steph says:

    >Have to laugh really – I just wrote a long reply then navigated away from page before doing the spam check input and lost it!! Bloomin' technology… I've half a mind to print my whole blog off now!
    Anyhow I was saying that I know, as mum to an older NT child, it never crossed my mind then what problems other people may have behind closed doors. I think sometimes people are scraed to offer help in case they say or do it wrong and they get a bad reply… The online community is amazing, I've had so much support from here, but at the same time you can't beat real life, face-to-face chats to get things off your chest – preferably with someone who understands! Let me know if you ever want to meet up ;)

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