I don’t know many of my neighbors. A lot of them are old — really old, like in their 80-plus years — and at 51, with a decade-plus in this house, I’m still the new guy on the block. I live in this community but I’m not really a part of it.

I’m a part of a lot of other communities, as I realized lately when strangers started e-mailing me about the Cayamo cruise just because I asked questions about it on Facebook. A former boss, who is an enormous Americana music guy, shot me a note insisting I had to go. Other people wrote me from Hawaii, Germany and Australia, saying they had seen in my profile that I played harmonica in a band, and telling me I had to get on the ship. I really don’t know these people, but now I’m in their community.

I own a Big Green Egg and a Weber Smoky Mountain cooker. I’ve met owners of both appliances — especially the Egg — because of online communities. The Egg owners even have big parties around the country, and I went to a fantastic one last year down in Waldorf.

Some of my best friends to this day, including twin brothers who introduced me to the woman who became my wife, were part of a now-defunct online community called Crunchland. More than a year after the website shut down, I still keep tabs on many Crunchlanders through Facebook.

You define your own community these days, and ‘community’ may not mean ‘people in close physical proximity.’ That, more than anything else, may be the best thing to come out of the instant-communications-around-the-world era in which we live.


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