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WHY COMMUNITY MATTERS NOW, MORE THAN EVER

BY @ANNAMCAFEE

by Anna McAfee | Featured Contributor

“What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back 50 million years. It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it’s something that people have wanted forever” says Seth Godin. 

You’d have to be living under a rock to not have recently heard the words ‘community’ and ‘tribe’. But why does it matter so much, and why does it matters now?  We need to take a look at the world, where we are as individuals, and where we are as a collective.

But what is a community?  As individuals we are members of multiple groups of people, which are defined by geography, work, study, interests, online social networks, and online group participation.

THE LACK OF REAL COMMUNITY

As humans we have a basic need for community but modern lifestyles are squeezing this out.  Community is more and more absent from the way we live our lives.  We have evolved in tribes, always lived and hunted as groups, but we are living more isolated lives online and not interacting with individuals and groups around us.  Social change has meant that many of us have moved away from where we grew up, and we don’t have a support network around us. Its alarming that for many its becoming the norm to go for days without seeing another human face to face.   

The internet and social media have created unprecedented opportunities for connection across the globe.  A hyper-connected world, always online, has provided considerable advantages, with greater opportunities for remote work and flexibility, in particular for women.  We have information at our fingertips and the ability to find customers and build business relationships remotely. 

AT WHAT COST THOUGH?  

Where there is an upside, there is also a downside.  Social media is eating humans. Estimates show that 2.95B people on earth (one third of humanity) will use social media by 2020. It connects us in ways we’ve never before seen or imagined. It disconnects us in ways we take for granted. In a time when social media shapes our world view and drives our daily interactions, we need to define a new balance between online and offline, between global and local, between virtual and reality.  Modern life is creating a human connection gap, there is lack of social cohesion around us, and less of a sense of belonging.

WHAT WE CAN AND ARE DOING ABOUT IT

Photo by Slava Bowman on Unsplash

In recent years there has been a shift towards authentic connection in what has become a fast, technologically advanced world. Social media has added so much to our world and our businesses but we have lost something in the process. We have become accustomed to define ourselves by the job we do, who we know, how many likes we get.  Yet we are so much more than the superficiality of all those things.

As a result of change we are seeing a shift in consumer demands, a craving for a more human experience.  In our DNA there is a desire to be a part of a community, or multiple communities, that support us and help us grow.

Brands and companies are being expected to deliver a more human experience to its customers and followers.  We now have #O2O movements (online to offline) and #H2H (human to human) delivery of content, products and services. 

Another example of this change is the #letsgethonest campaign in late 2017 and re-run again in 2018.  26 million people shared their failures and weaknesses via content, on the basis that what we share as humans aren’t perfections and successes, but universal flaws and failures.

Online brands such as Fiverr and Asana are now delivering a community experience to customers and contributors.  #LinkedInLocal, a campaign to take online connections offline and come together to meet in groups face-to face, has spread to over 85 countries in less than two years.  We continually see the rise and growth of Facebook communities for like-minded people, anything from mothers groups to soul-centred entrepreneurs, there is a Facebook group for literally everything.

BRIDGING THE HUMAN CONNECTION GAP 

Even in a digital world it is so important to build our own “villages” to support us. Social isolation is damaging to health, education, business and society.  As humans we need to find the balance between an increased need for privacy, and shutting ourselves off from the world.  Human interaction must be meaningful and when we recognise this we need to picture what our own ideal in-person villages look like, and use technology for good in order to seek them out.

Posted on January 26, 2019

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