If you drag your lovely slacker self from bed on the daily with your eyes at least partially open and your brain at least marginally alert (assuming a lot here, we know), then even the groggiest version of you can identify one of what techie legionnaires call an "online community."
But, seriously, a "community"? Social Distortion's gonna call bullshit on that. Yup. Suck it, Mashable. Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and the like are indisputably online, but they are most certainly not communities. And that's a bona fide fact based on our opinion, which pretty much holds the sway the Encyclopædia Britannica did in 1985. So there.
Why aren't they communities? Because. Members of communities collectively garden together, and sow the seeds of growth lovingly and hum merrily while they toil. Community folk assist the withered elderly when jaywalking through busy intersections. They bring the homeless bags of warm McDonald's Value Meals instead of merely dropping errant Canadian pennies into a dilapidated styrofoam cup. They shelve books at local libraries for zero remuneration whatsoever because public libraries put sunshine in their hearts. Their Mayor kisses babies and doesn't sleep with your wives. The people build shit. They paint shit. And the shit they do doesn't involve defecation in the least.
Nope, communities these online sites are not. Your contacts let their dogs shit in your Facebook yard all the time, leaving you to step in and clean up the dookie, don't they? You know they do. They reverse their land barges into your trash cans on Flickr, and don't bother cleaning up the garbage spew that results. They cackle when your children fall off their bikes via comments on your blog. Hell, they even kick a dog when it's down on Twitter. You know they do. You probably do it, too. Jerk.
Alas, all is not lost. If you really want to be a citizen of an online, global community, you'd better act communal, dammit. And it would behoove you to keep a few key social graces in mind:
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- Change a few diapers. Your blog "About Me" page smells. Your Facebook profile stinks. And everyone knows that photo was taken three years ago when you were still skinny from your coke problem. Communities stay current. Communities are based in reality. Live in one, too. Update, update, update.
- Back off the cruise control. But yo, auto-updates are bad. You heard it here first for the five millionth time! Stop sending Foursquare notifications to Twitter, dammit. No one cares that you're the Ambassador to Hush, but we do feel sorry for you for having such poor taste in entertainment venues. We're telling you, no more one-size-fits-all approach for timely upkeep of social sites. 'Cause that's not very hospitable of you, neighbor.
- Step out on your front porch, and give a wave. Comments on your blog or your Flickr photos from your online neighbors? Good, very good. No response from you? Bad, very bad. You're internet famous? We don't care. Talk to the people around you. Converse with them. Be friendly with the masses. No, you're not too good for them. No matter who you are. We guarantee it.
- It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. So pop your face upwards and get your peepers off your smartphone's inbox already. Asshole.
- You're going to that potluck at the JCC. Guess why? BECAUSE YOU AREN'T DOING ANYTHING ELSE. So stop saying "Maybe" to those Facebook invites already. Commit to something. Anything. Say "Attending." Go. Show your face. End of story.
- Close your blinds at night. You might think no one's watching. You may think no one's noticed. But if you tweet that one of your nipples is brown and one is chartreuse, someone's gonna notice. Moral of the story? It really is okay to keep some things to yourself. They'll be none the wiser if you do hold back. And you probably won't haunt their dreams, either.
- That volunteer editor gig at The Hometown Herald has your name all over it. Believe it or not, you aren't the only interesting thing out there. Every day rockstars live among us all over the Internet. So pass the mic a little more often. Don't worry; it's still okay to disinfect after the puff-puff pass back.