Being a part of something bigger is a human trait. Once, we had our local communities. These were limited to people we knew personally and who probably lived nearby. We hadn’t had a much choice, we liked those who were around us and we tried to build relationships with our neighbors and colleagues from schools, universities and offices. We tried, but with limited success.
We are all different, we think differently, we believe different things, we make different choices. We have been surrounded by people who may have thought like us, but more likely we have hidden ourselves. We were afraid, we were judged, we were called weirdos.
Then the internet came. And the internet was good. We tried it with a lot of uncertainty, but we quickly learnt that there was a wider world behind those boxes and cables. It took time, but eventually we found our families, we found people who thought like us, we met people who were like us.
And then social media came. They promised to connect us even better, they promised to help us to build the communities we wanted, we desired, we dreamed of. And we did it, we started using the social media, and it was we, who helped them to grow. It was us, all those who now can’t stand them, who helped them to grow and to take over the internet we liked.
But it wasn’t our fault, it never was our fault. Being vulnerable and seeking friends isn’t the fault. Exploiting those who want to love, who don’t want to be alone – it was their fault. But it had happened and there’s nothing we can do to turn back time.
The internet we knew and we loved is gone, and what we have now simply doesn’t work anymore. But do we really care about the internet? Do we really care about the tool we use? I don’t think so, well, maybe we do, but that’s a mistake. Every time we focus on a new tool or on an old tool, we lose the bigger picture, the ultimate goal we’re looking for.
The community. It is time to start building the community. It doesn’t matter if it’s going to be Mastodon, an old internet forum or a hundred of federated blogs. There are ethical reasons why we should avoid the biggest a mainstream social media, and there are technical reasons also. But as long as we are together – there’s really no difference if we use this technology or that one. Technology is just a tool, and if people want to be together, they’ll find the way. They’ll move, they’ll change and they’ll adapt, as long as they like each other and they want to be together.
That is what we need to focus on. It’s time to build the community, it’s time to find and connect people who think, who live, who dream about the same things. They don’t need to be the same, we all are different, we all have different experiences and we’ve walked different paths. But as long as we share the same values we are able to build something great together.
The community will live whatever happens to the tool. The community will self-heal every time someone hurts it.
The community we dream of is the community that’s not limited by geography. It’s a community that’s not limited to those who are in the same city or village or live on the same street. We have tried to escape the limitations of the physical world and it is important to build the community in a way that allows to connect with folks all around the world.
The greatest promise of the internet was limitless and borderless global village where we could talk with our colleagues and friends on the other end of the world. We forgot about it, but nothing really changed. We still can do it, and we still have everything that necessary to do it. Even those, who struggle with the language can now use the right tools and still be a part of it.
We are lucky to live in a time when everyone has access to the internet and everyone can use it. It’s enough if we would think about those who are disabled or in remote areas of the planet and we would use tools that don’t exclude.
We believed that it’s very difficult to include everyone, but it’s not. It’s enough to build simple websites, low-data-hungry social platforms and distributed systems that are resistant to common threats. I don’t mean technical aspects, those are and always will be demanding, but in the same time they always will be solvable. I mean the very basic foundations on which we should build.
Very basic and very simple, because it has never been about the tools, it has always been about us. And our values. We can’t forget what we’re really looking for – a place where we can be ourselves, where we’re safe and where we’re accepted.