For various reasons, I've been thinking a lot about communities in the last few weeks ... how they come together, interact with each other and advocate for causes and interests that they have in common.
Today, Upper Canada College announced it has appointed a new principal to start in July 2016. I used to work there as the Acting Communications Manager/Editor and subscribe to their e-newsletter, receive copies of Old Times (alumni magazine) and keep in touch with various former colleagues. After so many years, I still feel a part of that particular community, just as the current staff, parents, students and alumni do, so today's news was of interest to me, and I suspect, the wider private school network in the local area.
A few days ago, Goodwill's sudden closure affected another community in a very negative way. Workers turned up to find the doors locked, and it was only today that they learned that -- yes -- they'd be receiving unpaid salary, a decision that was too long in coming for those people. I am part of this community too, having a family member with special needs and learning disabilities, similar to some of those that Goodwill did employ. I can emphasize with their anguish of not having a reason to follow their regular schedule that day, having seen first hand how a change in routine can cause a lot of anxiety for someone with special needs.
I manage a Facebook community of over 2,200 members interested in being a kibbutz volunteer, or sharing their experiences having been one. I did it for two years as a carefree 20-year-old so can speak to it. I posted this message today:
"This is a great community and we all have other lives in the 'real world,' but the main focus here is on our kibbutz experiences and thoughts, likes, issues and so on around that subject matter. Any off-topic spam or hate will be deleted and the user banned permanently, no questions asked. We're all adults so don't take advantage of the group, and thanks for keeping an eye out for posts like that and reporting them."
I get help from the members who also care about the integrity of the group when they report spam and hate comments. As the message says, that will result in an immediate ban. I have no time for those who even consider abusing the goodwill of a group, so out they go. If members don't agree with that policy, no worries -- it's a free world and they can choose to leave and join another community. I won't take it personally; everyone has their preferences and point of view.
So there's just three examples of communities I hang out in. You must have your own.
The social media platform I find most useful for promoting communities and finding people of a like mind is definitely Twitter. It's easy to search for subject matter, jump in on what's trending (if relevant to your community) and create lists of advocates that have an interest in your community's topic.
But I don't like being told what to do in social media.
In this article, entitled Jack Dorsey Has A Lot Of Work To Do, the author quotes Twitter Head of Engineering Alex Roetter: "Every time you open Twitter, we should show the best stuff to you."
NO THANK YOU, ALEX!! When opening Twitter, I want to see the latest, happening-right-now-or-seconds-ago tweets ... not what someone (or algorithm bot) has deemed it worthy to consider as the "best" stuff.
Sure, it may be horrendous, horrible news ... or it may be something uplifting ... extremely useful ... an opinion that you want to disagree with ... a photo that you dwell on all day. But it's real time happenings, lasting a few seconds (I use TweetDeck with its Matrix-like scrolling option) before another tweet replaces it.
All those people, saying what they think is important in their diverse and varied communities, all over the world. As a communications junkie, that is gold to me, and opens a window into that collective outpouring of subject matter and viewpoints that one can only learn from.
And that is my longest Herb Communications blog post so far. TGIF. Have a great weekend in whatever community you may choose to spend it with!