Interesting insights, thank you Sarah! This is pure speculation, but I wonder if this shift in language may be traced back to Dr. Martin Luther King popularizing the phrase “beloved community,” which he spoke about often. When working for my state legislature in the early 2000’s, I noticed African American clergy and other black “community leaders” who came to the legislature to lobby speak of “the community.” I noticed the elected leaders using the same terms, "the Community" and "Community leaders." This was not necessarily a new use of the word community, but it was new to me at that time. It confused me at first, but it became clear they were speaking specifically of the African American community, whose interests they were representing. Perhaps as the social justice warrior or successor ideology has grown and morphed into something entirely different from and antithetical to MLK’s vision, the term “community” (stripped of anything"beloved") has spread to every and any identity imaginable, resulting in more tribalism, more hatred, not less. MLK referred to ALL people by using the term “beloved community.” Here is a quote from an article on the King Center website:

"One expression of agape love in Dr. King’s Beloved Community is justice, not for any one oppressed group, but for all people. As Dr. King often said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” He felt that justice could not be parceled out to individuals or groups, but was the birthright of every human being in the Beloved Community. I have fought too long hard against segregated public accommodations to end up segregating my moral concerns,” he said. “Justice is indivisible.”


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I think the frequent use of "community" is, indeed, partly a result of the decline of a meaningful sense of community in many people's offline lives. I think it parallels the way political partisanship has taken on a religious feel for many Americans as traditional religion has declined in the US.

It might also be a form of concept creep, paralleling the spread of "security" after 9/11, and "justice" more recently.

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May 22, 2022·edited May 22, 2022Liked by Sarah Haider

None of the hobbies I've done in my 61-years of mostly nerd-life started as a 'community.' We were just dudes who liked DnD, Comics, Video Games, RC Airplanes and Model Trains.

These became more and more popular as we evangelized them!

Then the change happened. Certain groups came in, started acting as if they were communities and took over our hobbies and started attacking us for being white men. Telling us we were racists, sexists, etc., etc., etc.

FWIW, something similar, but on social dimension, happened in our San Diego Mensa chapter as well. All the old (50+) Mensa dudes got kicked by the curb by the Yuppie/Dinks back in the late 1980s. They weren't cool with their cool cocktail parties and discussing law and philosophy. No, they were engineers and stuff and were decidedly uncool talking about machines and computers but were inclusive of all.

And then they were excluded. Lendon Best (below) was my friend. They kicked him out despite the fact he built the chapter from a 'do nothing' tiny group to one of the best chapters in the US. This article is about a decade before the junta:


So even really smart people can act really viciously and stupid. I don't know what happened after '91 because I left. But the chapter did not get better.

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community is a useful euphemism for tribe, which tends to encourage uniformity and discourage difference, much less creativity and individuality. it also makes it easier to promote grifters and isolate and banish interlopers. Another word for difference, of course, is diversity, which now has meaning only insofar as the rules and algorithms of intersectionality will permit, not with regard to ideas. this aligns well with the concept of eliminating meritocracy, as the main qualifications become superficial characteristics like melanin, ethnicity, and one's ability to parrot the dogma' and reinforce the community status quo.

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Would enjoy hearing your thoughts on how to build communities if you’re planning on follow up posts

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I probably won't share *all* my thoughts (as they could fill a book and I don't think the average reader is interested in the details), but planning on sharing some.

The next few posts cover a few important elements I think can be neglected (especially by community builders).

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Sep 17, 2023·edited Sep 17, 2023

This has been one of my big pet peeves the past few years. The word "community" is now a politeness-ritualized, softened or mild-virtue-signalled version of "group x" for groups like black, gay, etc that are in no meaningful way an actual community, as "x" only represent one trait of huge and diverse groups. So even though it innocuously conveys the good intentions or politeness of the author, from a language-cop perspective it dilutes the real meaning of "community" in terms of multi-dimensional interaction and connection, while also being a bit condescending towards "group x". I like the way you wrote about this topic. I had not heard of you before today when I encountered an awesome, super-sharp speech by you about the islam-criticism double standard, so I'll be reading more from you soon!

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Is the LGBTQIA+ community not the most glaring example of a community made by fiat? I mean we're all supposed to be mad at Ricky Gervais this week because he attacked the LGBTQIA+ community, and yet I, a gay man, can't muster the requisite outrage. Maybe that reveals something about reason for all these "communities" - political clout. If someone makes a trans joke (or a gay joke), that's one thing, but if they offend The Community it's another. This is why loners/introverts will never stop being acceptable objects of contempt. We don't have a community, because if we formed one we wouldn't really be loners/introverts anymore.

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Interesting points. I might add that I see a general distinction between geographic communities and all other kinds of "communities". I think community can be very useful as a way to understand a group of people sharing the experience of living in a distinct place, generally smaller than a city but bigger than a neighborhood. The quality of that community might be accurately said to be more determinative a person's quality of life than any other factor, save maybe their family. The community has an environmental quality, air, water, trees, parks, noise, transportation networks, etc., all of which are highly determinative of health and wellbeing. It also has a social quality, childhood peers/friends, schools, recreational opportunities, crime, economic opportunities, social services, business services and networks, again, of which are highly determinative of health and wellbeing.

And community then begins to matter even more in that to the extent that a given geographically-defined community conceives of itself as such and takes action to improve its environmental and social characteristics, those are changes that can have real impacts on people's lives. Yes, defining the leaders of said community can be tricky, but again, in a geographically-defined community there are often structures in place to do so, i.e. local politics.

Sure, there are many exceptions, super-talented people might far exceed the norms in the places where they live, or people might self-destruct even living somewhere with all of the advantages, but those I would argue are exceptions that prove the rule: the environmental and social quality of the place where you live, particularly during your formative years, is highly determinative of the quality of one's life.

It's when you get past geographically-defined communities to the purely social ones that in my opinion you run into most of the problems you mention.

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Soounds like so much hairsplitting, while ignoring that your head is on fire. The hypocrisy underlying every state ignoring the climate crisis (eg all of them); the entitled Hollywood BS that anyone can achieve their preposterous dreams; the cognitive dissonance necessary to keep pretending everything is fine while all evidence is to the contrary… come on, Sarah. We don’t need to define or invest in communities, we need to choose sustainable cooperation, possibly anarcho-syndicalism, over late stage capitalism. Wake up. Talk about immediately useful topics, please.

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