All communities go through ups and downs – and community fellow-feeling can range from cuddly warmth to chilly animosity. That’s human nature. It’s inevitable that in any group of people some are just going to have bad chemistry and spark off each other, some will just be too much alike or too different and there will be drama. We don’t have to all adore each other and sing Kum-ba-yah to be a community, though. We just need some mutual respect and the ability to recognize that it’s not disagreements that cause drama, it’s how we react to them.
Disagreement is good, it’s how ideas are refined and improved. It’s how we make things better. We need disagreement to polish our thoughts, our ideas and our beliefs. The problem comes when people perceive disagreement as a character flaw. This is where the Michael Moore’s and Bill O’Reilly’s of the world fail us – because they daily demonstrate the falsehood that disagreement is a moral failing. It’s bad enough when these people who act so outrageous for money do it for the ratings, but it’s worse when we adopt their behavior when we interact with each other. It poisons the community.
Now, before you all think you know exactly what I am talking about and who I am wagging my finger at, I have to say that I have done the same thing. The other day someone talked up a political policy on plurk – one that caused grievous harm to my family, one that made my mother’s last two years of life stressful and frightening and in my opinion, led to her decision to refuse food and water after she had a concussion and thus, to her death. In that instant, I felt such anger and animosity I had to disengage before I said something that could not be taken back. Offline, I raged about this person until I took a deep breath and recognized that he had no personal desire to kill people, make them miserable and destroy their lives. He’s merely wrong and a bit glib about the consequences of policies that don’t affect him. Not a monster, just wrong. I am sure he is equally certain I am wrong.
Sadly, there’s been a few dramas pulling at the fabric lately – noisier and more widespread than my personal example. We have even lost one of my favorite bloggers to one of the dramas. Whether you liked her or not, her blog added color, liveliness and warmth (and great photos) to the fashion feed. So my challenge is for all of us to take part in picking up those frayed edges and reminding ourselves that overall, we are a pretty great community. One that pulls together to help someone get a heart transplant, to raise money for victims of disaster in Australia, the Phillipines and Haiti, to raise awareness of brain cancer, breast cancer and other diseases and to really build a better Second Life and to strive to do good while having fun.
So, my challenge is this, to identify and highlight one, two three or more people whom you believe make an effort to build community. People who help others, who expand the fashion and blogging community in different ways. There are those who tutor building skills, those who share tips and tricks and quiet workhorses that help organize events in the background. There are lots of wonderful people in our fabric. Let’s shine the light on them.