Andrew Russell has a fine piece at The Rabbit Room on limitations and our recent infatuation with “community”:
if we look at the ways in which we’re currently trying to “live in community,” we’ll discover that we’re attempting to get the “pros” of community without any of the perceived “cons.” True, we’ve realized that we can’t live alone, and that we want and need our lives to be shaped by others. But in choosing the specific “communities” we want to be a part of, we are betraying the fact that we still, deep down, want to be the center of our own universes. We only want to be shaped by others in the ways that we want to be shaped by others. And that isn’t community.
He doesn’t dig terribly deep into the concept of “choosing our limitations”. But I think this is a really important phrase to think about because we live in a world where (if you have enough money, and most people reading this do) you can simply opt out of many of your obligations to other people and live in an a-historical, un-grounded, dis-connected fashion. We can choose to attach ourselves to an online communities made up of other people who mostly agree with us and who will never truly burden us in the way that an elderly neighbor or an ne’er-do-well brother can. Any sacrifices we make for others online (and I have seen some great examples of people online supporting one another) are entirely voluntary, and it is rarely difficult to back out of commitments that we have made to online communities.
There is a lot more to be said on this, but for now I think the most important thing to think about is that we should all accept our limitations and choose the ones that will put us in close proximity to vulnerable people and limit us from backing out on them.