Sonia Simone posted an article on the community that surrounds bloggers. A small excerpt:
Her comment got me thinking that part of the rise in popularity of social networking is directly related to the evolution we’ve made in how we form and participate in community. As I see it, community in the 50s revolved around your neighbors and the place you lived. You became friends with those who had close proximity to your physical location. This is definitely still present today, but not as prominent (how many of your neighbors do you see regularly?). During the 80s and 90s, community was largely defined by where you worked. I believe this shift was influenced by the increase of women in the workforce and the viewpoint that “success” came to be linked with “career”. We spent more time there than at home and our communities reflected that. In these the ‘aughts’, the web has provided us a medium where community can be formed outside of geography or occupation; one that focuses more on shared interests and common information. We can connect with both real life and online friends (also called IIFs, thanks Kristy) in a way that transcends time and location without losing the authenticity required for genuine community. This is the magic of social networking and part of the reason it’s so popular. It’s not a technology advancement, it’s a community advancement. No one cares how Facebook or RSS works. They care that it connects them with people in a way previously impossible.
People care about the communities they participate in because it fulfills a basic human need to belong. To be heard. To be accepted and valued. Social networking and the related technology brands (Facebook, StumbleUpon, Twitter, etc) enable us to do this with more flexibility and mobility than ever before. And with Google tagging and indexing everything along the way, you just might meet your neighbors after all.