Community is being overrun by commonality. A community is a group of people who stick together for their mutual benefit, is being replaced by ad hoc groups created by outsiders that benefit those outsiders at the expense of those inside the groups. I’ll call that a commonality here, OK?

Communities are generally voluntary and created/joined by willful individuals. Communities persist; they can live longer than the individuals that first formed them. They, of course, change and grow as the individuals in them do, and they continue as long as there are people with the shared interests, needs, abilities, histories, or geographies that birthed them in the first place.

Commonalities, on the other hand, are formed unbeknownst to the people in them, though sometimes they are told after the fact. They are gathered together, not because of anything those people need or want, but for what they can do for the creating entity outside the group. These commonalities don’t persist, they only exist as long as that entity needs them to; once whatever what was sought is gotten the commonality evaporates. Sorta like quantum events, eh? But rather than invisible to us because they are too small, they are so because they are too big and we are trapped within them.


Now, imagine a solitary predator looking for its next meal that’s not very smart in a human sense, but has evolved to be very efficient in getting that meal. It doesn’t need to think ahead, because for it there is only the forever now. It is simply hungry or not in a world that is only food or not food. You might be thinking I’m describing a shark but I am actually thinking of a corporation.

These corporations are the outsiders described above that are replacing community with commonalty, promising more but delivering less in the names of freedom, individuality, anonymity and so on. You know of what I write: Facebook friends, email lists, store loyalty card memberships and who knows what other millennial apps this old guy hasn’t heard of. Deceptively calling these aggregations communities, these corporations mine your attention, your savings, and even your individuality they pretend to respect. They essentially “frack” you.

These quantum-esque commonalities, like their subatomic prototypes, appear only when they are being observed, but they are more like the school of fish that becomes food only when a nearby shark is hungry. When the shark has eaten its fill, or the corporation has profited enough for executive bonuses to kick in the commonality disappears. From a corporate point of view, old school communities (groups of residents, voters, consumers, employees, etc with common interests) just get in the way; they either are consumable or are destroyed, discarded or ignored.

Of course, sharks must eat to live and corporations must profit or die so new commonalities must be constantly be discovered—or created—to replace the now consumed old ones. Only the shark/corporation’s will to predation persists.

That’s not quite true. We persist—or believe we persist—in spite of the volatility of our attention, savings and individuality. We believe we persist in spite of the ongoing loss of various communities which used to make up a big part of us. Quantum incorporations (and decorporations?) are working against us in that.

Then there’s our existence as self-aware creatures, (cogito ego sum, baby!) which seems real enough because most of us seem are, at least some times think about what being self-aware is good for—or in itself. But we should also be thinking about how to keep the corporations from consuming or discarding us along with our communities they already have.