I read Dumbing Us Down yesterday. I pretty much already held the opinions expressed int his book. That the purpose of school is to commodify the individual, remove our quirks, make us easier to control, and so forth. My adult life has been an attempt to rediscover the child I was before schooling happened to me (and summer camp and other bad ideas). And really, the commodification did not work that great, I’m still pretty frickin weird. But not weird enough! Schooling did do its job, and there are many things about myself that I don’t reveal. because school made me feel like large parts of myself had to be discarded or hidden.
Like I am not going to reveal the list of 42 groups I was involved with in 2020. But that 42! It is a magic number.
One of the most interesting, to me, parts of the book involved a discussion of networks vs communities. Remember folks this was written in 1992. No social networks, no network graphs, no linked in. But here we have it networks vs communities. The TLDR is that networks bring a reduced portion of the individual to a group where as in communities you bring the whole person AND in a network you get the most out of the network at the beginning, in a community you continue to receive value over time.
I wonder of those 42 groups which are networks and which are communities. A friend was trying to start a community. He kept saying, the community, the community, but there really was no community – a community does not come into being because you collect a bunch of people together and decide that – voila – here is a community.
Do you have to like the people in the community? Nope. I think that communities exist because there are networks of people within the community. People are connected to one another. In cults perhaps people are only connected to the leader.
Anyway community. How do we do community in an online world? This is very hard -maybe impossible – because online strips away so much about what it means to be a human. If I pay to be in a community am I still in a community – or is this verging in cult territory. Some of the 42 groups are patreon groups, most of them I am there for the leader, some of them I am there for the people. What if we had a patreon where you vetted both the creater and the community.
Communities can include or exclude. Thats sad, but necessary. Richard Bartlett and the microsolidarity folks talk about this. I mean if you are for everyone, then you are a for no one. I think it’s ok to have a community be exclusive. But what I don’t like is a community to be conformist.
Is this a rant? Yes. I want to be part of a community of people in person. I want to do community things like cook and dance and teach and play music, and hear music, and make art, and look at art, and learn and read and make a big fire (that is my core competency) and watch a dance performance. I don’t need to be part of 42 communities to do this – maybe just one. Like maybe I am actually a community monogamist. Maybe I want too many things that cannot possibly be in one community. Like cultural somatics, tai chi, kundalini yoga, and soccer. But I would love to go deep in one community. To really learn the many facets of my community members to learn this mode of commitment and love.