Recently I came across the words, 'Connect with the community eg talk and interact with 'real' people,' on a brick wall. You would never have seen such a message forty years ago, before the internet and mobile phones became part of our daily lives.
In the past the main ways to communicate were face- to-face, by snail mail or telephone. You communicated directly with the person you wanted contact with, not a group. Information couldn't be forwarded on the way it can be these days. You couldn't pretend to be someone you are not, in the way modern communication technology makes possible.
These days people may be attending the same party but be sitting in different rooms texting each other. People sit at home playing online games against their friends instead of meeting at someone's house.
On the positive side, there are online groups which provide valuable support to people who are isolated in a physical sense. Technology can also widen the horizons of people who are housebound by illness or disability.
Modern forms of communication can certainly be convenient. I find email useful and text messages are so quick to send and receive.
I would not want to go back to a time without these useful forms of communication. However, when overused they can mean some people miss out on face-to-face contact. A sense of community is something some people aren't familiar with and modern technology is one of the factors in this. People often don't get to know their neighbours.
People can feel they don't have time to meet the neighbours. When everyone in the household is busy with work, study or other activities that take them away from the family home there may be little opportunity for contact with others living in the same street. Children don't play with other kids in their front yards or out in the street.
Sometimes people feel they are taking a risk getting to know their neighbours. Therefore they choose to isolate themselves.
At times people aren't sure how to make contact with those living nearby. Knocking on the front door can seem awkward. What if they don't want contact?
Today I got to speak to someone a bit further up the street for the first time although I have lived here for over two years. A pet rabbit was hopping around the street and we got talking about it and what could be done as the owner wasn't home.Then we introduced ourselves and talked about our gardens.
Sometimes the weather gets neighbours talking. Some years ago there was a lengthy power black out on an extremely hot day. The power went out mid afternoon and was still off as the sun was setting. Although it was very hot outside it was better than inside and there was more natural light. There was no television to watch. People came out of their houses and spoke to their neighbours.
Another time my street flooded. When the rain stopped, people went outside to sweep water away from doors and out of driveways. They got talking to the others in their street.
In some areas, especially in country regions, there is still a strong feeling of being part of a community. There are also suburbs in the cities where people tend to know their neighbours.
In some places people are making a concerted effort to build a sense of community. About ten years ago I spent a weekend on a camp where the participants formed groups and worked on projects for building community.
Community and Neighbourhood Houses have been around for at least thirty years, probably longer in some areas. People can attend low cost classes and workshops. Groups can use the facilities for meetings. Some have a playgroup or run a thrift shop. There may be cooking classes or an affordable community lunch.
Community gardens are found in some areas. People work together to grow herbs and vegetables. Those involved in any sort of community project are likely to communicate face-to-face. They will probably also make use of modern technology for communicating. Most groups have a Facebook page and many have a website.
Modern technology can be used to support face-to-face groups and communication. Individuals can also use quick forms of communication to organise meeting up in person. Although the overuse of communication technology is a problem, used judiciously, it can support talking and interacting with 'real' people.