Village Life, 21st Century Edition?

I spent this past weekend doing more than playing and socializing, I also did a fair amount of observing. One thing that struck me about the relationships in our scene life was the level of familiarity and near kinship between people who had never met in person. I began to see our scene as something like a small town or village.

We are the huggingest people I’ve ever seen. Those who know the name Leo Buscaglia understand that he would be proud of us. We hug when we meet, hug after a scene, hug when we part, hug when someone passes the salt at dinner, etcetera ad nauseum. I’ve written about my lack of comfort at hugging and it’s become a minor joke when people do it with me. Although I grew up in the farthest thing from a touchy-feely family, I am getting used to the hugging in the scene enough that it doesn’t make me cringe anymore. I’ve heard folks in the scene kid around that we’re one big dysfunctional family — but is that far from the truth?

The modern world is a funny place as are my relationships within it. I have friends that I see on a regular or at least semi-regular basis. I have a family that I pretty much want to have nothing to do with. But then I have a wider and larger group of friends that are scattered all around the globe, some who I see only once a year and some who I’ve yet to meet. This last FMS party made me understand how comfortable I feel among people who share this interest of ours. I even remarked that it felt like coming home and in a way it did.

Of course this is nothing new. You can go back in history and find many groups of people sharing an interest and gathering together to create a small community. Whether it’s a genre of literature, music, a profession or hobby, people have been seeking out like-minded individuals for a long time. The spanking community had the Usenet newsgroups a.s.s. and then s.s.s. before there was even an AOL to gather on (not to mention Internet Relay Chat). My early years of lurking were on the Usenet and it was the first place where I actually felt there was the feeling of community. Technology has now gotten to the point where the idea of a town or village is not confined to a single place or group of buildings. My use of Twitter and Fetlife (among others) has made it possible for me to be in the modern version of the village square, getting to know others in the scene and the feeling of being in a community.

Someone once told me that Twitter created a “false” sense of familiarity and I suppose they might think the same about Fetlife and the other social sites. My opinion about that is that there is familiarity or there is not. If one knows someone intimately, even if it is online, then they feel a connection that is carried over to an actual meeting. There are limits, of course. I might know someone because of their Tweets and vice versa but I cannot presume that I have any right to behave in an overly familiar way or to make assumptions about our relationship when I meet them in person. However, being tied into a global grapevine of information, a virtual community, does make the experience of real life meetings that much more satisfying and relaxing for me.

What I’m trying to get at is that the scene has begun feeling like living in a small village where everyone knows each other. The people living in this village may be thousands of miles apart from each other but the sense of community is there. I felt it in a very strong way in Florida this time around and I’m curious if others have this sense as well.


2 Responses to “Village Life, 21st Century Edition?”

  1. cassandrapark Says:

    I felt that, too. Our “village” is very comforting and welcoming. As far as Twitter goes, I know I spend WAY too much time on it, but I love the banter and I DO know most of those I’m Tweeting with.

  2. I definitely felt that closeness, Rad, especially as I had the long-awaited chance to meet friends from the UK in person for the first time. I’d say the sense of connection extends well beyond the real friendships that take time to build, either in person or on-line. There’s something about the shared vulnerability of attending an event like this, of being willing to expose ourselves as kinky, even among others who share our interests, that makes it easier to interact in meaningful ways.

    You might be interested in a lovely post by Emma Jane from Ireland on this subject. She even creates a new word, kinkship, to describe our relationships in the scene.

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