The End of Community
Losing a community is hard, especially when the loss is not by choice.
I've been watching the meltdown of Twitter over the past few weeks. My guess — the same as many others — is that the site is hanging on by a thread and will collapse soon. With most of the employees either fired or resigned, it seems like an entire community may collapse.
I've been on Twitter since something like 2011. I don't even really know when I joined because I deleted my original account and handle for a new one in 2017.
For most of my time on Twitter, I was a casual observer. It was my news feed, filled with updates from journalists and publications I follow. I only began actively engaging with people a few months ago, mostly the #5amwritersclub crew.
Where do people go when their community dies?
Leaving a community can be hard. Devastating. There isn't an easy replacement for that sense of belonging. Even if you find a new community, it takes awhile to feel at ease.
I left a tight-knit group of friends in 2015 after Nelle died. We were in a private Facebook group together. They had all... moved on. Were carrying on with their lives. Some of them were pregnant. They stopped checking in with me or asking how I was doing. I felt like I had been cut off from a support system that I had been counting on.
And so I left a brief message on the Facebook page that I no longer felt like I was part of the group and left. I remained Facebook Friends with some of them. But none of them reached out to me after.
I don't blame them (per se). Grief is a really hard thing to deal with. They likely didn't know what to do.
But that's also a human failing to see a person in pain and turn away. Even if we don't understand it, we don't have to shy away from it.
Fortunately, I found the SHARE community about a year later: a support group for parents that had experienced pregnancy loss. But even among people who understood what I was going through, it took awhile to feel connected with others. Eventually, I became very close with many women in the group. I had traded one community for another.
The downfall of Twitter is unique in its complexity. There are many people that I don't know in real life — fellow writers. But I've appreciated the support, especially as I venture into the world of professional writing.
What's next for our little writing corner of the world?
I've seen a lot of people express sadness about the downfall of Twitter. I get it. Losing a community is hard, especially when the loss is not by choice. When I left my Facebook group, it was by choice.
I hope that everyone finds a new place to meet, a new community, or a new way to share ideas. The world can be so isolating at times. Sometimes the people in our physical proximity or connected by blood aren't "our people." They're not the community that can provide the support we need.
It takes a village, as they say.
Wherever you find your village, cherish it.