It feels really odd to address this Reverb10 prompt, fresh on the heels of yesterday’s events. I’m really tempted to pass it up. But I’m plagued by the nagging suspicion that I’ll feel incomplete, like I didn’t give the exercise my best shot. And since I am all about being 100% present in the moment, right now, I’m going to try it. Bear with me on this one, I have a feeling it’ll be a rough ride.

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

I’ve always been a community-builder. I like people, that is for sure. I am also intrigued by the complexities that are added to human interaction when the numbers increase. I am fascinated by how different people, from different places unite on a common interest or belief and how their differences impact what unites them. Where best to observe and participate in each of these than in a community?

What I loved most about the internet, when I came to it back in 1995, was how much access it gave me to other people. It was really about moving computers from the age of computation to connection.

I started with creating address book lists. I’d frequently send out mailers to different groups, initiating discussions, asking questions. These were the predecessors of what we now call discussion threads. Newsletters have always been around and I tried a version of that in my online space too. Soon enough, I was writing pieces of my own and sending it out to people I thought would be interested. Can’t you already tell that I would love blogging, when it did happen a few years later?

Egroups was the next step (later on called Yahoogroups) and I united my colony friends, my college cronies, my school batch and my extended cousins in various groups. Blogging. Twitter. Facebook. And here we are, now.

After I quit my job, I gravitated to groups of people who shared my interests and my ideologies. These included creative fora, writers groups, literary circles and cultural gatherings. As with every group of people, eventually individual agendas and petty politicking start to eat away the fabric of what originally united people. I’ve learnt that much now but it never gets any easier to deal with.

The events of yesterday had less to do with my standing up for someone close to me and much more to do with being a member of the creative community. A few years ago, I was singing on stage when someone in the audience drenched me in a shower of beer. Following an outbreak of behaviour, the band packed up and refused to perform any more. That was the solidarity of the group. I am disappointed that no one else in the creative community felt the need to speak up or back me up on day before yesterday’s incident, except for the artist who was affected.

A few years earlier, I started facing harassment targetted at my blogging persona. A lot of people then told me to ignore it. And I felt humiliated and let down back then. What was interesting about yesterday is how things have changed. I expressed an opinion and got slammed for it. This included personal attacks and a taunt that my opinion didn’t matter. The Twitterverse rose up in a mighty show of support. There were people I didn’t know very well and some that I did but didn’t even get along with. It was my community stepping up to back me, even if they did not have a direct interest vested in the episode. It was about protecting the rights (to an opinion) of a member of the community.

I am personally very happy to see bloggers and tweeters getting a collective voice and spine in protecting our own. That’s a strong community, in my mind. It keeps us connected and stronger. I am proud to be a part of this community and occasionally have the opportunity to speak for it.

I wish other artists, performers and writers would also band together in a similar manner to uphold and protect our ideals. Perhaps they already do; I just have to discover those specific communities.

Okay that’s the end of it. I warned you it’d be awkward and clumsy. *Sigh* Bear with me, the next one will be better, I promise!

2 thoughts on “Reverb 10.7: Citizen Of The Community”
  1. I think 1995 was about when I started really using the internet myself. I’ve moved through so many communities since then; I outgrew some and then others just became obsolete. I think it’s so much nicer that blogs give us our own space that lasts through changing services and tastes.

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