Belonging


June 23rd, 2007

My footy team won last night. Now this is not very remarkable unless: 1) you live in Melbourne, Australia and 2) you barrack for Richmond aka the Tigers. Footy (Australian Rules Football) is a religion in Melbourne over winter, and while I no longer go to every match, I remain a devoted follower (after all I went to my first match, ahem…more then 45 years ago!) And Richmond is a serial heart-breaker: every year they promise lots but often fail to deliver. Nonetheless, last night, on a cold wintery night in Melbourne at the MCG, Tiger fans outnumbered the opposition fans by 4 to 1. Oh, and did I mention that half way through the season, Richmond was still winless? So last night was their first win of the season. YELLOW and BLACK! Yeah! Sorry, I’ll get back to the point.

This got me thinking about belonging – about the ‘tribes’ that give us a sense of who we are and our place in the world. And I’ve also been thinking about SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) – or the winter blues. I notice my own mood plummetting in June and July – and the general advice is to get outside more, do more exercise and socialise more – things we often don’t do in winter. Now I know why I love snow skiing so much – it’s all that sunshine, activity and drinking, ooops, I mean socialising.

OK, OK – I’m getting distracted again. Richmond supporters are linked by invisible ties of knowing – we may know nothing else about each other, but can commiserate with each other about the joys and sorrows of following, well…only another Richmond supporter would understand. Which got me thinking about all the other ways to ‘belong’ and how many options there are now of creating community. There’s the geographic community we belong to; the virtual communities (blogs, discussion lists, twitter etc); our friends; our family; our work buddies; our professional buddies; interest groups – there’s so many. So what is it about these that make them work – and others fall by the wayside. I reckon it’s a common language – a combination of what we talk about and the way we talk about it. We Richmond fans have a common language where we can say lots with a single raised eyebrow. It’s not just what we say either – it’s also the way it’s said.

Which makes blogging really interesting – because all we have is written words (OK – and pics, and vids, and illustrations) but it is one way. I’ve been asked recently why I have a blog. And here’s the reasons:
1) to have somewhere to record random thoughts and keep track of cool ideas, links, podcasts etc
2) because I make sense of the world through writing – the meaning emerges through writing
3) to connect with other people who I know already; and with others who I don’t know yet.

I guess it’s all part of the human need to belong.

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