Community Building vs Individual Drift

We are currently living in a society where the individual is supreme. The man or woman of ability is given free reign, is well remunerated, and works wherever they want to in the world. This is not just your high flying merchant banker or corporate lawyer; this lifestyle applies to any number of trained skilled nurses, doctors, teachers and engineers. The cream have never had it so frothy.

Even the ordinary person has untold more choice than one generation ago in terms of field of work, where they live, who they associate with, how they spend their leisure.

There is just one problem with everyone being a great individual. What happens to this thing called society? When your neighbours are only so for 12 months, your workmates constantly move on, friends jet overseas for working holidays; what is to moor you to reality?

Professional sports have killed the amateur spirit, we no longer see films in a common hall, everyone has their own individual soundspace with iconic ipods, families no longer gather for dinner. Tradition had its chains, but it also resulted in a sense of common purpose and direction. Now each of us is a little microbe seeking a place of glory.

Individualism is a way of acknowledging and giving expression to all the wonderful diversity of the human spirit, but hyper-individualism becomes nothing more than ego. I and I, and nothing but the I.

I see society fragmenting and disintegrating before my very eyes.


10 Responses to “Community Building vs Individual Drift”

  1. Crawdaddy Says:

    I agree. Good points. So, what can I do personally, in my family and also as an individual, to vigorously moor myself to family, to community, to society, and to resist becoming too hyper-individualized?? (next blog post for you, my friend….)

  2. homeyra Says:

    Hi Ideaman, thank you for passing by and adding me to your blogroll.
    Everything is changing so much around us. We loose some and win some. I think we can do a lot with this virtual community, or at least I am happy to have these type of exchanges with people all around the world.
    I appreciate the fact that I live in a society where social connections are still very important, though I have less and less family or friend over here, most have left the country and some have passed away.
    The society is fragmenting before our eyes as you wrote… maybe a way we can make sens of it is to think that now we belong to a larger society, and we can get involved more toward our civil duties…

  3. Astroboy Says:

    It may be fragmenting bfr our eyes as you mentioned, but I dont think that is such a bad thing. There is after all a God in the small – small is beautiful.

  4. Kelly Says:

    Yes, it’s happening. Some of us have decided to take it upon ourselves to try and contribute to the opposite trend…a backlash if you will. I have joined a group of cohousers; we plan to build an intentional community in this town over the next 5 years. In the meantime, I was looking at the handmade name tag I spent an evening drawing and colouring with pencil crayons. It’s big, it’s goofy and I decided to start wearing it everywhere I go. HELLO MY NAME IS KELLY.

    In the library a helpful patron said, “Um, excuse me, you forgot to take off your name tag,” she offered.

    I smiled broadly at her. “Thank you, but I didn’t forget. I wear it everywhere I go.”

    She smiled back now. “Wow, KELLY, that’s neat. Have a nice day!”

    One by one, I am learning the names of every person who lives in this city.

  5. SilverTiger Says:

    There is of course a paradox here. What is the stage upon which the individual acts if it is not society? If we all became completely self-seeking and kept everything for ourselves, there would soon be nothing for us to keep. There has to be some sort of balance or the whole thing will collapse. Is society really in danger of collapse?

    Perhaps what we are seeing is not the collapse of society (though it may be the collapse of “society as we know it”) but its transformation into a different sort of society. For example, it surely cannot escape our notice that much social interaction is these days conducted online, as opposed to in the pub or in the streets. Such interaction did not exist until recently and therefore wasn’t a factor in “conventional” society. Today I “know” people all over the world, something which would have been difficult or impossible in times past. My society seems to have grown, not shrunk.

    Note also that individualism does not imply solitude: even individualists need to interact with others in order to pursue their interests. Do we have any solid information that individualists are less interested in their families or have less friends than the members of some past golden era? And aren’t we at risk of seeing the past through rose coloured spectacles? I have lived quite a long time and, given the choice of living now or in the world of my childhood, I would not hesitate to choose now, despite the well advertised risks.

    Whatever form society takes, there will be problems. We should also look at the advantages. It takes all sorts to make a society, including extreme cases, and society somehow amalgamates without there necessarily being any “typical” cases. Extremes often attract more attention than is justified by their real importance.

    Email SilverTiger

  6. caveblogem Says:

    I agree with SilverTiger about a transformation to a different kind of society. I think that my circle of friends is increasing rapidly, and has been, since I started blogging and commenting on the blogs of others. This doesn’t, of course, include many people that I should be connecting with, the underpriveledged in my own city, for example. But I am pretty shy. I love Kelly’s approach to life, the nametag thing she mentions above, and the rest, but I could never emulate it.

  7. kikipotamus Says:

    My world has opened up a thousandfold since starting to blog. Through the blog I met K, who introduced me to the cohousing group. I do feel a shift in the definition and parameters of community. Both online and face time are part of the whole. K

  8. Astroboy Says:

    So how is growing the ganja tree? Thats all I want to know – we are going back to basics right?

  9. sandrar Says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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