When I was working as a youth director in Cameron House, a non-profit, faith-based organization, I had gone through a lot of books on leadership and community building activities – which were simply games – one book focused specifically for building community and was written by Wayne Rice, a popular author on youth ministry activities. Rice discussed about community building and referenced the theme song to Cheers.
Cheers was a very popular sitcom that ran for 11 seasons and was set in a bar in Boston. The lyrics “you want to be where everybody knows your name” rang a bell with being in a community.
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Rice, being a Christian educator, made the obvious reference on how the lyrics reflected how people should feel in the church community. But the lyrics were about the local bar!
I think the lyrics still apply to a lot of the tech conferences and gatherings in San Francisco, and also apply to communities online. What’s also funny is that the characters in the TV show have quite the similarities with some of the people that I see in the various gatherings:
- A cute but klutzy, pretentious snobby scholar (Diane Chambers)
- A doofus, but likable lothario with the responsibility of leading the community (Sam Malone)
- A boyish country homeboy with the childlike IQ equivalent (Woody)
- A socially awkward self-claimed know-it-all (Cliff Claven)
- and an everyone’s-favorite only-good-for-laughs funny man (Norm)
I think you’ll find the same type of people in your various communities that you’re involved with and that could go the same for your online communities. The synergy of those different types of personalities make for a pretty vibrant environment, as long as there’s a common interest. And if that interest creates a feeling of belonging, where everyone knows your name – that’s one of the core components of creating community.