In 2001, Robert Putnam published his book, Bowling Alone : The Collapse and Revival of American Community.
Amazon’s review says, “In a nutshell, he argued that civil society was breaking down as Americans became more disconnected from their families, neighbors, communities, and the republic itself. The organizations that gave life to democracy were fraying. Bowling became his driving metaphor. Years ago, he wrote, thousands of people belonged to bowling leagues. Today, however, they're more likely to bowl alone“.
Can blogging and other online communities be tools to help reconnect American’s with their family, friends, and neighbors? I think it can, and often point people to sites like Michele Agnew’s blog.
One community I stumbled into recently is Colin McEnroe’s blogging class. As with any class, you get different perspectives on the subject matter. Recently, Brett pointed to this site about blogging, calling it the ‘Best Indictment of Blogging Ever’. It is a stark contrast to his previous post wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to friends far and near.
His classmate Nile takes this even further. She writes, “I've been wondering if I would continue blogging once class was over. I didn't think I would -- mostly because it's time-consuming and somewhat unproductive...blogging away under an assumed name on a site no one really reads. But I do miss the process, and the persona. So maybe the need for self-expression that we discussed will keep me going after all. Maybe I don't always have to be productive.”
Colin’s class is a community that exists at this moment in time. In a few weeks, it will be over. I expect I will run into Colin again, and perhaps one or two of the people from his class. Yet even ad hoc communities serve an important purpose and I do hope that people from Colin’s class continue to blog and become part of other communities.
One final thought: Years ago, in my college years, I appeared in the play, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. I played Pozzo.
One of my lines, which I’ve carried with me all these years is, “The more people I meet, the happier I become. From the meanest creature one departs wiser, richer, more conscious of one’s blessings. Even you...Even you, who knows, will have added to my store.”
Yes, meeting Brett, Nile, Colin and the class will have added to my store. Even meeting some of the Xanga based bloggers that are bewailed in the link that Brett points to will have added to my store. I like to think that I am not blogging alone.