Can one truly belong online?
Thoughts on the state of belonging. What do you think?
Can one truly belong online?
Belonging is a recurring topic in two different circles I spend a lot of time in: community managers and DAO builders. In both cases we’re interested in building communities - attracting, engaging, retaining groups of people, having them create relationships and participate in shared projects.
2021-2022 have been dominated by PFP collections and in a way its been the ‘belonging moment’ of the crypto space. At their core PFP collections like BAYC or CloneX get a good share of their financial value from the status and belonging they give to their owner. Financialization of belonging.
Its not so surprising. Belonging and connection are powerful drivers for most of us humans. Some time long ago belonging to a group was a matter of survival and at a physiological level feeling disconnected from others translates into stress and painful feelings. Wanting to get out of that state through finding a group to belong is a biological imperative.
So IRL we buy cars, clothes and hang out with a group of friend or participate in a sports club. URL we tweet, we DM and we buy expensive JPEGS to add them as PFPs, but can one acquire true belonging through these virtual means? Our bodies and brains have been designed to interpret clues -friendly faces, safe environment- in a physical environment, not from a computer screen made of pixels. I know that in my case spending time with online friends will only go so far and I need the physical element.
But where are we heading with belonging as we’re venturing in the lonely century?
With institutions like in-presence work, friendship, religious communities and nation states weakening, there’s a crave of belonging that is left to be seized by alternatives. One thing is for sure, mainstream social media is not filling this gap.
Online communities on the other hand are a growing phenomenon and there is hope for some of them to become healthy shelters from the excesses of social media as well as environments with a richer social and economic life. That’s the promise of creator and dao communities.
When it comes to connecting with others online though I feel like we’re not quite on par with real world experiences. Community calls, chats and 1:1 zoom calls feel a little dry to my taste. So while I had been dismissing VR a lot in the past few years, I feel like its time for me to experiment with these richer mediums and give them a try no matter how clunky they feel. I’m thinking of spaces like The Sandbox, party.space and pretty much any good solution i’ll put my hand on. I’ll keep you posted here!
Thanks for reading,
See you around and feel free to share any thoughts with me!
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