Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Meaning of Community

I've been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be part of a community, a group of people with a common interest. [See definition of community below.] If you blog and you have multiple sclerosis, then you are automatically part of the MS Blogging Community, right?

Or does community describe the group of individuals who congregate at each of the patient forums online? Many times, individuals may be part of more than one community which exists around a single topic of interest, ie those of us who are connected in the blogosphere AND on Facebook. Where do the edges blur?

What about the big disease organizations; are they part of our patient community? Why or why not? Are we part of their community? The interconnectedness of different social media platforms (ie blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc) and the individuals who make virtual homes there has potential to be very powerful when spreading information and awareness.

I'm full of questions today, apparently.

What do you look for in a community? What do you expect from other members of that community? How would you want larger organizations to participate and reachout within patient communities? Or do you expect them to create the community and welcome us to join them?

These questions go beyond having MS, or RA, or depression, or any other disease or condition. So tell me. What are your thoughts on the subject of community? My thoughts won't settle long enough to move into words. J


The Free Dictionary online defines community as:
1. a. A group of people living in the same locality and under the same government.
b. The district or locality in which such a group lives.
2. a. A group of people having common interests: the scientific community; the international business community.
b. A group viewed as forming a distinct segment of society: the gay community; the community of color.
3. a. Similarity or identity: a community of interests.
b. Sharing, participation, and fellowship.
4. Society as a whole; the public.
5. Ecology
a. A group of plants and animals living and interacting with one another in a specific region under relatively similar environmental conditions.
b. The region occupied by a group of interacting organisms.

[Middle English communite, citizenry, from Old French, from Latin commnits, fellowship, from commnis, common; see common.]


  1. A group of people who define them selves as being a part of a certain community. I think all communities are subsets of the community of mankind.

  2. Yes a member of the MS blogging community but not necessarily a member of a particular tribe/group (other than the human one).

    From other bloggers and online organizations I expect common courtesy.

    I am finding participation on social sites (Facebook, Twitter etc.) becoming over whelming is some respects. I have enough trying to keep up with the blogs I read and adding the other sites is overload.

    The edges are blurred enough that I wonder if mentioning conversations on Facebook in a blog post or vice-verse might cause someone trying to form new connections a bit of confusion and/or to feel out of the loop.

    Any of them on their own platform can and should be used as a means to disseminate information and are a great place to find like minded folks and support - to not feel alone.

    My experiences with local Society here has not been top notch. I expect nothing from them - nor do I ask for anything. I did help out a few friends at the MS walk this year.

    That said, I do not get all warm and fuzzy with the online offerings they have. Great for research and info but not really excited about their online presence.

    Not everyone is computer savvy enough to figure out how to connect on Facebook or setup a blog. Twitter is limited by it's max characters allowed. Forums are not for everyone either.

    I guess where I am headed with the last few paragraphs is that no one type of community is sufficient - it takes a variety. Then it is up to us to utilize those we are comfortable with.

    Ok I typed a book ducking under desk confused as usual LOL


  3. I just wrote an article about this very subject for a magazine. Yes, we are a community. Unique in its onw way.

  4. Communities can make you stronger, helping you through hard times. They can make you weaker, doing your thinking for you.

    The best communities I've found let me keep my sense of self while sharing a common experience.

  5. Yes we are all in a community. Our community is made up of people who have been diagnosed with an unfortunate disease but who are making the best out of it. In my case, I am thankful for MS. {Well, Im not thankful for all of my gifts from MS.}Among many changes, I am a better mother and I have a better grasp on reality than I did before.

    Every MSer I have met has been so encouraging and courageous. THank you!