Have we forgotten the humanity behind our online community actions?

A short post from me during a busy, positive yet hard week. I'm reflecting on a moment we had at the Rosieland Retreat yesterday.

Ece facilitated a session where attendees would give some background information about themselves and then ask a question they needed help with. Attendees would then have a couple of minutes to write down answers on a post-it note with ideas on what may be helpful them.

The first person who asked a question walked around the room and collected the answers. But then for further questions, people got up and walked over to the person to gift the post-its to the person who asked the question.

I was watching from the sideline taking notes of the questions (I plan to post in our Rosieland community for other people to answer virtually) and something occurred to me.

⚑️ This activity was people physically acting out what we do in a threaded and online conversation.

Yet the whole experience was so different.

People were laughing, thinking, asking clarifying questions. The most inspiring part for me was when answers were "gifted" to the person seeking help. The walking across the room and the physical handing over of the Post-it note naturally made people smile and be more thankful for the effort that was put into answering the question. There was real connection happening.

It really felt like people were receiving a gift.

It feels like we've forgotten much of this in our online world. We often go into communities with the expectation that people give, but all too often we don't think about what this really means or what we should do in response.

Yes, we often say thank you and shower posts with emoji reactions, but is this enough?

And I don't mean this as a way of saying we are not grateful for the online spaces we have. I do think many of us are, but we are all probably guilty of taking many things things for granted. (Myself included!)

Maybe if we can visualize and imagine what happens behind the scenes for people to be gifted with time, experience and knowledge, then we could find more connection and gratitude between us. We can start to appreciate every conversation and action online a little bit more.

Our in-real-life activities can influence and inspire our virtual ones, and vice versa.

What if we saw every interaction as a real gift? Or as an amazing opportunity to experience the human need of giving? How would that change how we interact in our communities?

What if we started acting out and living how we do things on and offline to look for opportunities to reconnect and re-design a better community?

What if we used it as a way of re-training our people in what community could be? There was certainly a vibe at the retreat that whatever community is, it is confusing and overwhelming. Not only as professional, but to the general population too.

Are you frustrated that no one starts or responds to discussions in your online community? How can you start something offline instead? And then look for opportunities to re-think and re-design online outcomes?

How can you observe events and people gathering to inspire your own community action? This doesn't have to be your own events, it can be what already exists from others too. What is it you see that you love? Or hate? Or how could changing the environment impact a community effort? Instead of forcing ideas that require a ton of effort, maybe you can find opportunities to make community happen in a more natural and emergent way.

And is it possible to create these better spaces if we're so obsessed with community engagement over everything else? Maybe we need to focus on enjoyment of the journey.

I come with no solutions, only inspiration as the result of being with people again. I'll be using it as an opportunity to improve what we do in Rosieland. 🐌

How can we build better communities?

We are on a quest to learn and explore what makes great communities.


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