Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
Online community: a virtual community whose members interact with each other primarily via the Internet. For many, online communities may feel like home, consisting of a “family of invisible friends."
Friend: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection.
The words in common here are sharing, interacting, bonding. But is that what's happening online?
More and more I am seeing that the online "community" is a place where voices can shout, trolls can bully and badger, and the feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and otherness has the potential to blossom like a festering infected wound.
As many of you may know over the past two years I closed my online accounts and wrote about it. What was it that made me want to shut it all down?
It was a feeling that the communication was one way, that similar to being watched by a Peeping Tom I was being undressed, analyzed, criticized, approved or disapproved. Liked, loved, or indifferent. How many likes? Depended on the caption, content, day, photo, mood of the one watching.
In my Art History classes I studied the notion of the spectator. Who was the viewer? What thoughts were presented visually to the viewer by the artist and what role did the subject have in this viewing moment.
Had I become like one of the tribes in the Amazon that believe that a photograph steals the soul?
The Kayapo people of Peru have this belief. Actually in my research I came to understand that it was not a belief it was a knowing. A knowing based on language. Wow! The power of language.
According to a photographer who travelled deep into their world and wrote about it, "Kayapo, “akaron kaba” not only means “to take a photo” but...it also means “to steal a soul.”
Yes. the world of online community to me steals the soul and steals time and makes it so very difficult to allow oneself to outgrow old beliefs, old stories, and old viewpoints. To me humans are wired to share, interact, and bond and to do that we need all our senses involved - all six.