The Things That Bring Us Together
I have asked myself what are the things that bring us together as a community, and it cannot be asked without looking at the things that drive us apart. Why do we separate out in different directions and identify more or less with different people. Age, language, socio-economic differences, and level of education are some of these things that bind us, and conversely, separate us.
Shared Experiences Bring Us Together
The things that come to mind as being the most compelling ties are the common experiences we have and are able to share, whether in person or through social media platforms like Facebook and in group pages like this one, HepatitisC.net. These forums for sharing have been around for years as some of you have been a part of starting some of them or being members. Some of these places are private, and in fact, most are because we are open amongst ourselves, but in general, do not want our stories to be open for all to see. How much we share is no measure of our importance or status. How much we participate in discussions, or how knowledgeable we sound is also not an indicator of anything other than one may read more than the next person, but surely nothing else as far as I see it. Just as we see in the mainstream of society, we will find the different personalities that make up a community of people. This is not to say our community is not unique.
Sharing knowledge is another thing that brings us together, and learning about new information, like the science, medicine, and psychology are useful, but I question whether this is the main reason we gather in these places. In my view we gather because we want to be part of a community. Community can be defined in a lot of different ways, but for me, we are part of a community if we have shared living with hep C, cured or not, cirrhotic or not, or at any point in the hep c journey. We share some similar feelings from when we were first diagnosed, whether we had symptoms or not, we share so much.
The Choice to Join a Community
Most of us share a desire to be with others. The closeness in geographic terms is much less a barrier to getting together in groups with the advent of modern technologies like the Internet. There is an old saying about safety in numbers, and it can be applied to our community just like any other. Knowing we are not alone is huge for most people, but it is not for everyone as we know. Some are happy to go alone and share with virtually no one. I choose community.