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How do You Define Community?

Posted by on March 15, 2009


I was watching Fox News the other day, I don’t remember what show it was but the commentator was talking about community.  He said that a community revolved around his neighbors and people that resided within a certain proximity to his physical location.  According to Wikipedia: “Traditionally a ‘community’ has been defined as a group of interacting people living in a common location.”  This made me think about all of the people that I’m connected with online and all of my readers/friends.  I haven’t met most of you and we definitely don’t reside in the same physical location, but I definitely still consider us a community.

I think it’s time we move away from defining a community as anything having to do with a physical presence at all.  Sure that can be a factor, but in my mind a community is a collection or group of people that interact and share something in common.  A community is actually best defined by the person being associated with a particular community.  For example, I may be associated with the nob hill community in san francisco, however, if you were to ask me if I feel like a part of the community, I would say “no,” at least not yet.

The word “interaction” is also crucial in defining a community.  I don’t think it’s right to classify a group of people who happen to be living next to each other as a community unless they actually interact with one another and act as a community.  By the same token I wouldn’t say that just because I have 2,500+ twitter followers that they are all a part of my community.  As a default they are a part of my “twitter” community but there are still many people from those 2,500 that I have yet to interact with.  I suppose it’s a bit of a tricky subject because I have to assume that all 2,500+ people are reading my tweets and following my conversations, so technically that is a form of interaction, but I am just not aware of it.

Perhaps the definition of a community can be something as simple as:

“A collection or group of people who have something in common and interact?”

How do you define “community?”

  • I like your answer at the end. A group of people who have a common interest and interact.

  • In advising my clients on social media strategy, I normally define “community” as groups of individuals with shared interests….the approach we are taking in engagements is to first establish that social media is not “free”, that there can be a diverse mix of groups or communities who will find one's business/brand appealing. It is essential to identify the topics to align around, and to engage in conversation…to build trust, and social relevancy to a brand vision………Finally, I tell clients, that community is inclusive, and is a learning process under constant change…………….

  • What an interesting question, and so appropriate for this age we live in. I feel far more connected to the people I meet online and share ideas with through social media than I do to the people who happen to occupy the houses close to mine. I don't know their names, I don't know what work they do…I know some of them drive too fast, but I know nothing of substance about them. I would not describe this neighborhood as my community. I think “community” implies mutual support and contribution to a goal outside your own self interest. That gets at your idea of “interaction” — a community is not passive, it's active. On think you're spot on in your interpretation and I'm using a lot of words to say that I agree. Thanks for raising the question. Keep up the great thinking.

  • sc984

    Yh! I think the physical sense of community has very little to do with a real community!

  • sc984

    Yh! I think the physical sense of community has very little to do with a real community!

  • Pmet2207

    marry me?