The way we find real-world communities is under threat, just when we need them the most. In the 21st Century, fewer and fewer people engage in institutions that formed the bedrock of the middle class success of the post-war era, as work like Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone and his follow-up books have shown over the past twenty years.
COVID has only accelerated this, making us all acutely aware of how much we need in-person interaction (community) while also shifting the way massive numbers of people live in ways that are both temporary (shelter-in-place) and permanent (work from home).
So much of the world has changed thanks to technology — software is eating the world, as Marc Andreessen famously said. We can find a potential spouse, have food delivered, order a taxi, book a hotel room or someone’s spare room, and schedule a plumber from our phones. …