June 7, 2012

Of barbershops, service clubs and community

A week or so ago on Facebook, Julien Smith shared a video from Tedx Somerville: Clarence Smith Jr., "Education by Barbershop." He said there was genius at about 5:35 in the talk.

I think there was genius throughout, especially for a blog like Experience Optimism that talks about the power of belonging to a group.

The culture that is learned in a weekly visit to a barbershop is similar to what one learns when they attend a weekly service club meeting. Talking to peers, sharing ideas and opinions, and swapping stories establishes values and contributes to an unwritten social and moral code.

Visiting your favorite group, whether it is a barbershop or an Optimist Club, when you travel enhances your worldview and enriches the stories that you share when you return home.

Stories aside, both are examples of community and today, both are being replaced by social media. Instead of gathering as a group and learning together, we learn independently in our homes, offices, cars and coffee shops as we connect with others online 24/7.

Are the relationships as rich? More important, without face-to-face interaction do we risk losing the opportunities to make a difference through community service where we live, work and raise our families?

I fear we do. How about you?

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