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Community · Stephane Travostino

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the author's experience growing up in a small village in Northern Italy and their journey of finding community and connection, first through the internet and later in-person social circles in a larger city. It explores themes of loneliness, the evolution of online communities, and the challenges of building meaningful connections in the modern world.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Community in a Small Village

1. What was the author's experience growing up in a small village in Northern Italy?

  • The author grew up in a small hamlet in Northern Italy, surrounded by the Alps and the Po Valley.
  • The village had less than 200 people, with only 5-6 people around the author's age.
  • The author's father was a brilliant and curious man who shared a lot of knowledge, shaping the author's personality.
  • As the author got older, they became hungry for more people, knowledge, and experiences beyond the small village.
  • Maintaining friendships was difficult due to the long distances between homes, and socialization was mostly limited to school hours.

2. How did the arrival of the internet impact the author's life in the small village?

  • The internet arrived in the author's town around the time they were 14-19 years old.
  • The author spent a lot of time coding and exploring the world through their computer.
  • The author found an online chat service and joined a chat room dedicated to the TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," where they made their first friends and found a new sense of community.
  • Through the internet, the author learned to become independent, make money, and even meet romantic partners, despite the isolation of the small village.

[02] Building Community in the City

1. What was the author's experience moving to a larger city?

  • After the sudden passing of the author's father, a school friend offered the author a chance to move to Milan and stay in a spare room.
  • The author's first job in the city was challenging, as they were thrown into the deep end teaching Linux systems administration to soldiers, despite being only 19 years old.
  • However, the author was able to learn quickly and excel in more ordinary coding and system administration work.

2. How did the author find community in the larger city?

  • The author met their first good friend in the city, someone who was charismatic and naturally made friends easily.
  • Through this friend, the author was introduced to a larger social circle, and the friend's home became a hub for an impromptu community.
  • The author's evenings were often spent at the friend's place, where people would gather to socialize, play games, listen to music, and form new connections.
  • The author found a balance between their introverted tendencies and the rich social life they had found in the city.

[03] The Changing Nature of Community

1. How did the author's community in the city evolve over time?

  • The author's close-knit community in the city eventually dissolved, as people moved in different directions.
  • The author has found it challenging to replace the sense of community they had experienced in the city, even as they have moved to another country.

2. What are the author's observations on the state of community in the modern world?

  • The author notes that the internet, which was once a haven for instant and unprejudiced communication, has now become the primary focal point of our lives, while also becoming more isolated than real-life interactions.
  • The author laments the lack of easily accessible, open platforms for discussion that are not controlled, monitored, or tainted by manipulation and tribalism.
  • The author observes that in-person socialization has become more focused on "doing something" rather than just spending time together, and the concept of a "third place" (not home or work) has become extinct.
  • The author suggests that the younger generations are still hungry for a sense of community and belonging, but the solutions being offered, such as building another Twitter, are not adequate.
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