Are Communities Really The Solution?
Maybe. Maybe Not.
One thing that I have always maintained throughout my career journey is my appreciation for communities. Communities indeed have the potential to help us upskill, network, and discover new opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible. However, lately, there has been a trend where people have been leaning on communities to wave the magic wand for them rather than participate in them and grow based on their actions. Whether it’s to learn a new programming language, seek mentors, or find new jobs, it seems like most people only want communities to solve their problems.
One thing that we need to bring back to our communities today is individual accountability. Therefore, this issue of the newsletter will not cover what might be right or wrong with communities, but instead, discuss what you and I must do to make them great for all of us!
What Do Communities Actually Do? 👨👩👧👦
The first thing to do before evaluating what communities can do for us is to understand what the purpose of a community is.
In simple words, a community is a gathering that brings together people from different places, experiences, and walks of life to come together and either work towards a specific shared problem or help fulfill a common aim.
The critical point to remember here is that the reason for the community to exist always comes before everyone rushes to join the community. The purpose always precedes those inflicted.
Who Actually Holds The Accountability? 💪
In communities across tech, however, whether on Twitter, in my local region, or in other forums, I now see a trend where people chase community as a solution even before a common struggle is discovered among their peers.
One (somewhat cynical) reason I see as to why people are building such a dependency on community seems to, at times, be a way for people to give up accountability for their failures. This is not to say that people do not appreciate and respect communities for the right reasons, either. Yes, communities have helped build some unbelievable success stories over the years. I also credit many of my successes to communities, as I have shared in a previous blog. However, just because we have seen specific individuals grow through communities, we cannot set the expectation that regardless of our knowledge and skills, communities will allow us to grow and gain opportunities, and achieve wins without the necessary hard work. Communities will neither uplift us nor provide us with open avenues unless we are willing to work hard for ourselves.
We must remember that when we talk about the community helping solve certain challenges or issues, it just means that someone is willing to put in the effort to help support themselves and us and those facing similar challenges as them, wherever they may be.
The bottom line is that communities don’t really do anything on their own; it is we who make things happen.
Should You Look To Communities For Answers? 📖
Remembering the initial question that I asked in the title of this issue, my answer is that communities aren’t a solution but a catalyst. They only accelerate the choices and actions that their members make. And that is something we all as community members must remember. Rather than seeking and chasing communities to solve our problems, they are forums for us to work through them with the support of those who share our struggles, failures, aspirations, and goals.
Yes, you can and absolutely should still seek them in dire times and conditions. They are still wonderful repositories of support and solutions. However, we must remember that our relationship with communities must remain two-way, not one, lest we should see the death of our communities in the days to come.