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Old September 7th   #1
Samir
Samir
is missing the scene
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 22,924
Community or Clique?

This has been a post I've thought about making a long time ago, and some recent discussions have brought it back up to the top of my mind.

Building a community is a buzzword in corporate America right now, especially with the social media mediums of Facebook and Twitter. But besides asking people to 'like' them or 'follow' them, many companies aren't building a real sense of community. So what is community?

The way I see community (for the corporate world) is that it is a medium of communication in itself--whether an email list, a forum, a Facebook page, a stream of tweets, or even monthly meetings face-to-face. Community is about people joining for a particular cause, and getting to know each other a bit below the surface--and sometimes much more, making lifelong friends. Community is open to newcomers, welcoming them to the community and possibly finding a new friend.

The challenge of building a community is that it requires a welcoming type of atmosphere and social culture from the onset. Without this, a group can be more like a clique.

The definition of a clique is really hard to find online, but the gist of it is that it's a group that attempts to exist based on exclusivity. While this exclusivity may be apparent to those within the clique, it can be completely trivial and oblvious to the rest of the world. This is a completely different premise for existing than a community revolving around a cause.

Gangs, clubs, cliques, and other forms of communities all have some sense of exclusivity. But the groups that attempt to 'guard' this exclusivity miss out on expanding, sometimes on purpose. Gangs require crazy initiation processes; cliques can require some sort of social hazing; clubs have dues or minimum commitments. The problem is that the more extreme the 'guarding' of the exclusivity, the more anti-social the community becomes. And this is ironic when the whole idea of community is to bring people together.

The online game has changed the face of communities and cliques. Communities and cliques exploded with the advent of online communication. The very first online communities started on email lists, newsgroups, message boards, and forums. And what administrators of these communities quickly learned is that the darker elements of cliques quickly made its way into the community, sometimes unknowingly. Since forums have been around for well over a decade now, the cliqish elementes are now just a part of forum membership 'process', and many people just accept the clique elements that come with it. But what has hurt these forums that have allowed their communities to turn into cliques, is that their expansion is restricted. And while there are forums that don't want to grow, users retire on a regular basis so it's always necessary to at least have some new members to keep things going. A community/clique that holds exclusivity so high will eventually fade from existance--like gangs, clubs, and other communities have in the past.

And the problem of cliques threatening expansion and the longevity of a community exists even in the real world. The formation of cliques within clubs and communities can fracture the social fabric within a club. Or in cases where a club turns completely into a clique, can close off the club to future members, thereby burning-out existing members.

So why does exclusivity rank so high within some communities, sometimes to the point of being detrimental like in cliques? Well, communities and cliques are made of individual people, so we have to examine why a particular individual is craving exclusivity. Exclusivity can make an individual feel special, unique--even loved. And when exclusivity fills the gaps in someone's life that is gravely missing these basic human desires, the exclusivity becomes very important--even something to guard or defend. And this is all at a really individual and personal level, having nothing to do with the community around them.

This thinking actually has a lot of basis in the psychology of the individual, which is why I'd love to get a grant to analyze and determine the general psyche of the car enthusiast. I think it would be facinating since we are all a little different than the general public. Even Jay Leno knows people by the car they drive versus their name, lol.

I look at local enthusiast hobby from a very wide point-of-view. I see all the communities that makeup our scene and the varying degrees of exclusivity that are in each of them. And there are very few that truly feel like a clique, which is why we have such a rich and vibrant enthusiast hobby here in North Alabama. Communities make our scene stronger. Something to keep in mind when determining where exclusivity fits in.
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