On finding community

28 Jul

Following my last post, I have been thinking about the ways I do or do not belong to certain communities. I am the sort of person who needs to be related to groups of people but is always wary of being absorbed by the group, so that I tend to stay somewhere on the margin most of the time. My ideal community would be one that favours a certain cooperative individualism and refrains from imposing its norm on its members while still facilitating exchange and a sense of belonging. Contacts I have had with subcultural groups, however, tend to show that once safe from mainstream normativity, the group quickly establishes its own norms of prescriptive behaviour and often remains unnecessarily biased against other minorities. While a certain level of group identity allows more cohesion among members and defines the group’s purpose, I believe that anyone who identifies with the group’s politics should be made welcome. In reality, I have often witnessed the emergence of a restrictive in-group which will then police the out-group. Thus, discovering that you are not straight, you may join a GLBTIQ group only to find that they do not believe that bisexuality exists. Once you have found the bi group, you may realize that its members are not educated about transgender issues. And what if you happen to be disabled? Is racism addressed within these communities?

It is very difficult, therefore, to develop a true sense of belonging in any given community. However, coming back to the idea of creating your own subculture, I would suggest that the internet is a great resource to locate culture, though it implies putting bits and pieces together yourself. The solution I have found is to use all sorts of ideas to create a (hopefully) coherent view of the world which in turn informs my sense of belonging to different communities as well as my participation in them. This blog is a way of doing just that, of attempting to answer the question: what new meanings does the word community take on when it is composed of scraps coming from distant sources?

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