#23 - What Is A Micro-Community?
Updated: Aug 29
by KC Johnson
At the most basic level we first experience micro-community within our families.
All Of Us Have Been A Part Of Micro-Communities
If we rely on a Google Search for micro-communities, only tiny-house constructions are highlighted, but no mention of the type of community we refer to here. Yet micro-communities are the backbone of our societies all around the world. They are the literal foundation of society.
We have many variously sized groups that connect us with other people. A life in a healthy balance needs these connections, they are the fabric of our societies. And they are the medium we use to maintain the boundaries that set the tone for our standards.
A community can exist between two or more people who share some aspect of common purpose, some common thread linking the ‘members’ to each other. Certainly, a family fits the description. Even enforced attendance in a classroom qualifies with the shared experience.
My Dad went to morning coffee with ‘the guys’ for years sharing their BS stories and having a raucous time teasing the waitresses and each other. I visited his small community of friends, but since I didn’t connect with their attitudes about life, I didn’t fit in, nor did I care to, it wasn’t my micro-community.
At various times most of us have participated in groups of friend-based activities, attended service clubs, church meetings, job staff get-togethers, neighborhood b-b-ques, apartment complex monthly meet-ups, joined a sports league team, visited internet chat groups and gamer sites, and so many others. These shared activities add context to our lives and can be a source for finding enjoyment.
These are truly micro-communities at the basic scale. And if we can’t find one to join, we have the option to create one that reflects our chosen interests. I started an ‘In Search Of’ group back in the 1990s where about ten like-minded people interested in crop circles, UFOs, and government cover-ups met monthly to share our findings and personal experiences. We used old-school methods for finding members – posting notices on bulletin boards at laundromats, grocery stores, even at Reed College – before we had the internet.
Anonymous internet chat groups do qualify as micro-communities, but one drawback may be the missing of face-to-face human contact. That downside in my view stunts our ability to build healthy relationships and retards our social development.
The upside of internet communities may be it makes joining a micro-group easier, and it lets participants explore aspects of themselves that get stifled in face-to-face meetings. That may be the reason chat groups are so popular. There are so many people who experienced hindered self-expression during their childhoods and were prevented from exploring and expressing their ideas and identities.
Incomplete nurturing by parents, care givers, and schools often prevents us from discovering our true selves, and the anonymity of online ‘relationships’ can become a stage in our social development. We do need to prepare to take the next step in our social development by re-discovering the power of face-to-face interactions.
Until the 1990s there were few other options for meeting with other micro-communities members except through face-to-face interactions. As newer generations have grown up having only the internet for ‘honest’ discourse, these younger people have had their emotional ability to talk with others diffused. Even when people do get together casually, many, if not all of them, have their noses buried in their smart phones being barely present for the people around them.
So What Is The Power And Benefit Of Micro-Communities?
This isn’t an idle musing. Micro-Communities can be vital proving grounds for developing vibrant, democratic societies. What better way to practice our organizing skills, our ability to speak in front of others, and to see the results of our efforts when a group struggles and adjusts for eventual success. Small groups are ideal mediums for the valuable opportunities to learn, practice our skills development, and most importantly, to develop our sense of self.
We can create our own micro-community to satisfy our personal choices or join one that reflects what we believe in.
The natural extension from experiencing these small group dynamics is learning to handle even larger micro-communities. Businesses, governments, politics, non-profit organizations, and any opportunity to influence others require more advanced group-involvement skills. We need these early small group interactions become competent when moving into larger group settings and to prepare us to expand our talents in building community vibrancy and fine-tuning our self-image.
This is how we discover and exercise our personal powers to heal ourselves and our challenged communities. With so many groups now being only online, it is possible that we are creating a huge void in our community base of competent leadership.
When our sense of self is not well developed, we likely allow ourselves to be more easily manipulated by false leaders promising, but not delivering solutions for our communities. Perhaps that accounts for a growing segment of our communities being unable to distinguish between healthy democratic principles and those centered around manipulation and limited choice.
Face-to-face groups can provide a balance to the disreputable online manipulators by allowing us to have better opportunities to challenge ideas, present our own ideas, and to organize around shared beliefs and interests. Plus, face-to-face meetings can be much more satisfying. We need genuine human contact. In groups we can side chat, exchange smile and hugs, share emotions, and talk about our lives in ways that the impersonal internet cannot allow.
The abbreviated messaging online sites generally offer is more like a promo tidbit for ideas and beliefs. We can only spit our short captions that highlight rather than truly inform in any depth. In contrast, small face-to-face group interactions allow us to explore with others expanded thoughts, and often, the desire is to build consensus rather than simply stating an online point of view to garner more likes for being provocative.
Another valuable outcome of face-to-face interactions is that you have a better idea who you are talking with. The incognito factor of the internet removes some degree of accountability for things said. We don’t know anything about the person we are speaking to nor do we have much real rapport. Certainly there is safety in the anonymity, but there is also much less responsibility for a person’s words and positions. For me, being an old-school person, I prefer building deeper relationships within my community.
And now with AI-generated videos and every aspect of content we can’t even begin to believe what seems to be authentic presentations. Deep-fake seems to be the word of the day and the unscrupulous among us are having a field day ‘re-creating our reality’ to fit their agendas. Perhaps we are coming full-circle for the face-to-face proponents as we try to encourage authenticity, human connection, and healthy discourse to bloom once again.
What Do Strong Healthy Micro-Communities
Mean For Countries Everywhere?
A small 'd' democratic system gives us the best opportunity to counteract the major forces of power, deceit, money, and manipulation controlling so many of our lives.
The only really effective counter-balancing force peoples everywhere have against the powers of the wealthy and the emotionally unstable manipulators is developing democratic consensus within their communities. These manipulators have to apply force in all of the useful methods to overcome the voices of the many. It’s the only tool they really have, and it rarely if ever, that can disguise the silent power brokers’ hidden purpose for control.
Manipulators are in actuality people with dysfunctional Inner Child early life experiences. Without sufficient nurturing our sense of self never fully develops the ability for caring for others. In a way these individuals are trying to fulfill their need for love and happiness with the artificial methods of draining the energy from others. So many of our cultures limit the nurturing of young males with the consequence being it is nearly always males who do the manipulating whether through using blatant force and violence to the more subtle behind-the-scenes controlling of money and power.
This is true in any country, in any part of the world, in any culture. The loser in this dysfunctional emotional paradigm is democracy. If people only realized the power each person has, there could be a sea-change in politics worldwide.
It starts with fully nurturing our children with loving touch and being hold well beyond infancy. This feeds the healthy emotional development every child needs to start life with. We need to listen to the views and ideas our children have at all ages without judgment and not try to make them fit into our pre-conceived sets of standards and beliefs. Our children need to be able to develop their own sense of self, their own values, and their own emotional foundations. Only then can we begin reclaiming our personal powers to control our own lives as adults.
Once that is done we can encourage our young people to become involved in healing our worlds in whatever way they choose to contribute. Our younger generations will then have the compassion to heal our dysfunctional social structures that now fail so many of our at-risk neighbors. This is the process for developing a dynamic democratically operating society. It’s not an easy fix, but that is how fundamentally sound ground-up structures are developed.
Emotionally healthy, well-nurtured children grow into participating adults much more inclined to own the communities they lived in. Micro-communities are the training ground for later-in-life roles for building stronger societies. This is what democracies are, vibrant social organisms that respond to the everyday community member needs. And it is the one thing that the emotionally dysfunctional power brokers fear most. Small ‘d’ democracies are their Achilles heel and they will use all of their efforts to maintain their emotionally deficient dysfunctions. - kc