To many people, that doesn’t mean a whole lot. Thanks to social media and “community-building” platforms, community is just a digital age buzzword for the people you’re reaching; ultimately in an attempt to make you and your company a little bit more money.
In a more classic sense though, and probably what our parents would agree a community is and should be, it’s a group of like-minded people focused on the common good for that group. If that’s what you accept a community to be, then you can see why every marketing pro jumps on the concept, especially in the everyone-gets-a-trophy society that we’ve created and come to accept.
It’s a brilliant strategy, but what I want to encourage you to do is to find a community that you can share your life with, without the profitable encouragement of an outside company.
I thought about it, ironically browsing “gymspiration” and “fitspiration” tags on Tumblr and Pinterest Pinboards, but as you search for solitude in this ever-connected world you have a beautiful plethora of options.
Considering my past, I thought about the two most physical aspects of my life and how the communities surrounding them is open to everyone.
The first is backpacking. Finding yourself as you search the backcountry for meaning to the things in your life is one of the most solitary things you can do. Days can be spent seeing nobody, miles of wondering and wandering without the distraction of your newsfeed or push notifications.
On the other hand though, the backpacking community is a gnarled and humble group of people, welcoming to every skill level from pro athletes to children exploring the woods.
The second community I feel closest to is that of the runners. Am I competitive? No. Will the strangers along the race route cheer you on like a champion? Absolutely.
The running community is a family, strangers share tips and tricks for getting in shape, taking care of your body, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle; all the while patting you on the back just for putting on your shoes. Like any family, there are bad apples, those people that turn their noses up at slow runners, or distance runners that pretend to be “too good” for something like a 5K. Hell, I’ve been that guy before, but in the end everyone watches out for each other, full of encouragement and always there, even if you’ve secluded yourself to your headphones and a pace found in your active state of alone-ness.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s easy to write off being a part of something because everyone says you need to be involved, but there are plenty of options that are perfect fits for you. Even the most solitary and secluded person can find a place of comfort among the runners and backpackers of the world, enhancing their individualism while they slowly strengthen their bonds with others doing the exact same thing.
In the digital age, communities are jaded, maybe even tainted, but at the core they’re what everyone needs.