Today’s communities aren’t the same as what they were 25 years ago or more. In today’s technological environment along with the newest generation that is taking over is more deeply involved in the online world than anywhere else. As a “90’s child”, that is, someone who was born well before the 1990’s and spent my childhood and teenage years through the 1990’s I have had the both the burden and gift in seeing what the world was before the implementation of the internet and technology and seeing how it has changed our communities.
As child going out and spending time with friends was always a priority, mainly because it was the most interesting thing to do. Supporting this was always a communal environment supporting this. Whether it was activities that brought children together, such as sports, group events like scouts, or parents working together to get their kids out of their hair, there was always something going on outside the house and in a direct person-to-person interaction to arrange these events.
While I am not saying that scouting, sports, and parent collaboration doesn’t exist anymore, the communal environment that it takes place in has changed drastically. Instead of going door-to-door, posting up flyers on the billboard at the grocery store, or putting an article in the newspaper, now events and news are shared among electronic message boards such as Facebook. The place an environment of our community has changed, some may say for the worse, others for the better.
Looking at what the internet has to offer and the Community Values that are viewed as important it isn’t surprising that this would occur though. The internet offers a high amount of the sense of community that people are seeking, by being able to seek out others that share their viewpoints and offer quick and encouraging responses that increases our sense of belonging. This also plays an impact on our sense of Ecological Perspective, the perceived fit between the person and their online “community”. By seeking out websites, forums, groups, chats, and other online applications that are parallel to our interests we achieving that perfect fit we all desire and thanks to the unlimited variation in website types we are all able to find that perfect fit we all desire (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012).
Other major factors on our sense of belonging to community are also fulfilled through the internet. Such as our ability to cause social action through the click of a mouse or a tap of the finger. Previously, if someone was hurt and a fundraising campaign was started there would be forms to fill out, bake sales were planned, flyers put up, phone calls were made, and articles taken out in papers, nowadays we just start a gofundme page. It used to be if a journalist said something we didn’t agree with letters were wrote, angry phone calls were made, and general griping among friends occurred over drinks or dinner, nowadays journalists are fired because a tweet is trending or a Facebook post receives a large amount of likes. While I’m not saying that our newfound community is necessarily a bad thing, I am saying that it has changed. Instead of going out and directly interacting with others in our proximal community face-to-face, instead our community is more indirect, over a vast distance, and to a degree less personal all while achieving the psychological fulfillment that we crave.
Schneider, F.W, Gruman, J. A., & Coutts, L. M. (2012). Applied Psychology (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.