Aaaaand we’re back! This time, with more definitions!
Community: a unified body of individuals: as…an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location[;] a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society….
My thanks to Merriam-Webster for providing exactly the definitions for which I was searching. These are they: relatively short, relatively simple, and more accurate to my cause than the ten other definitions they provided in addition. This, I feel, is key: when I was asked to define community, my first instinct was to view a generally accepted definition, and my immediate urge upon finding said definition was to hack away at it until I had parsed it down—despite scrolling right past the dictionary’s provided “simple definition” at the top after deciding it wasn’t specific enough. But why parse it down in the first place? Well, to abstract my own personal definition, I needed to start as close to my own ideals as possible. I could have chosen to include “society at large” (Merriam-Webster’s definition #2), but I didn’t feel that it was close enough to my definition of community. Of the twelve-odd options, I picked the two right there at the top of this post—and already, without going further, you know something about me. You know, for example, that my definition of community values individuals and their commonalities above nations and their policies (which featured in other parts of the M-W definition). Thus, it may not surprise you that my personal definition of a community is thus:
Community: a group of people who share some aspect of personality or interest
To me, this is my friends and family: we share where we grew up, how we’ve lived, and what we’ve done. But this is also people I’ve never met: the ones who’ve theorized about Lord Gwyn’s firstborn son, struggled against Whitney’s miltank, read through the growth of Garion from Pawn of Prophecy to Godslayer, and stayed up late to finish homework because their cleric just died in an orc invasion and they need to roll up a new PC.
(I didn’t actually die to the orcs last session, but thanks for your concern.)
But the greatest thing about this, is that the people who recognize what I typed up there are probably in these communities with me. And we belong to so many more, so many that are important to us, yet we are most often defined by a select few—either because we carefully police which communities we reveal interest in, or because we exude such passion for those communities that we cannot possibly hide our immersion. I have done both, and continue to do both; I may, for example, reveal my interest in Gwyn’s son while simultaneously hiding my passion for the Monster Jam freestyle crashes of Grave Digger (though I’m not hiding it well, obviously). But this is me, and these are my interests, and I consider anyone who shares any of these traits or fascinations to be a member of my community in that regard, whether they like it or not. So, if you dig what I dig, sorry; you’re in.