Thinking back to my early teenage years growing up in Woolwich there was never a sense of community. It was as if the place existed just as go-between for lost people, people getting the bus somewhere else, the homeless and the unhappy . Maybe community did exist in some minuscule numbers, in some hidden obscure corner between a very closed group of people. But it sure didn’t exist for me. Yet, ironically at the same time, all I ever heard from the adults and politicians and in the local newspapers at the time was this word “community”. This lie that they kept on preaching was out there being openly advertised as something that was happening, but it really didn’t exist. I really wish that when I was younger I was given the right direction to feel more empowered to empower my community to have a voice. It is so integral to improving the livelihoods of others, giving people the confidence to go next door and invite them round for a cup of tea. To just bloody talk to each other and be able to say ” you know what, I have a family out there, a group of friends that want to help me….and I want to help them”. I barely spoke to my neighbours where I lived. We would say hello, exchange an awkward smile and some small talk. Nothing else. How can a group of beautiful human beings, living in close proximity not come together and just talk? Unify and disseminate LOVE with their fellow people.
In my secondary school, Kidbrooke secondary, they spent so much time telling me what I had to do when I left, what degrees I needed to get, career paths, opportunities and how to write a CV. This prescribed utter bullshit that essentially would lead me into the lovely penned in, closed, prescribed lifestyle that society has mindlessly and collectively agreed is acceptable. The sad thing is, no one ever, not once, told me or encouraged me to do something important for my community at home, to chase something that could change people lives and inspire even younger people who possibly looked up to me.
We all really need to look at ourselves and ask ‘what have we really done to help our communities at home?’.
‘what have we done to tackle homelessness, sexism, poverty, domestic abuse, loneliness, depression, mental illness, to help the the disabled and the incapable? What ever happened to looking at the problems at home and getting stuck in. Not being afraid and not only thinking about ourselves? .
Technology definitely has a place in all this identity crisis and confusion. Within a generation that is increasingly becoming an online entity, existing socially day-to-day on the web. It’s no wonder that in our real-time interactions with each other we are actually barely communicating at all. Life on the internet is faster , more sexed up and ‘cool’. The social norm is to have a Twitter account or a Facebook and if you don’t your told to get one, to be part of the club. For the children of today that are being currently brought up by the internet, is this strange façade of a prescribed society really healthy?
An article in the Guardian the other day spoke of how some of the main protagonists in online social media have admitted to creating more and more addictive websites constructed to make you want more, make you behave and react in specific ways to keep you online. This has created an audience that are in need of a social product a societal product. We are addicted and we the consumers want more and more of this phantom mirror world.
Facebook seemingly for me has become a ‘new world’ lived in and updated every second of every day with everything that is happening now and things that I am always asked to do NOW. Currently I am part of a plethora of online political groups and online communities that provide me with the sweet illusion of actually doing something worthwhile.
You can now apparently topple tyrannical governments; save people who have fallen at the hands of injustice and help to fight world poverty through one click. I think it is on one hand a powerful tool in raising awareness for something but, for actually physically getting people together and doing something visible, it is not a viable avenue. How many times do you actually attend an event when you click ‘attend’ on Facebook?
The act of ‘Clicktivism’ as it is called, is another chapter in this prescribed façade of created and manufactured identity that is merely an aesthetic representation of a person and just that (and not necessarily a correct representation either). We all create an image of ourselves, a desirable ego-other self that epitomizes the embodiment of how we feel we should be seen. This is easily done unintentionally as well.
We are far removed from any concept of community because community can now stretch beyond your local neighbourhood. If you are part of any kind of social media website or group on the internet, you now sitting at home in front of your computer, are part of a much wider and very global community.
The boundaries and definitions of community have become blurred and confused as individual identity moves towards a much more fluid and thoroughly interconnected platform of the world-wide web. Will this be of benefit to us or an omen when we look back on this in the future?
Amongst all this doom and gloom there is a silver lining and a more positive perspective. This highly accessible superhighway of connectivity has opened up an anarchic world of possibility and limitless opportunity. Information is now openly available. You can teach yourself anything and everything for free using a simple search engine or a blog or even YouTube . Do you want to learn a new language? Learn how to drive? You can do it. Any time, anywhere. you can talk to family on the other side of the globe face to face. You can create a fan base for your own product, band or new book, in even greater numbers without the middle man. We have become a populous that have the potential and reach to do anything and to become anything.
What more can I say? I find it hard to decide amongst the positives and negatives whether we are more connected or not. We are definitely part of a new digital revolution where we can tell everyone anything we want. I think that in it self is an amazing achievement……What do you think?