Community Independent of Communal Places?
Just as it is difficult to imagine the concept of family independent of the home, it is near-impossible to imagine community independent of the town square or the local pub. Christopher Lasch has observed that “civic life requires settings in which people meet as equals. Thanks to the decay of civic institutions ranging from political parties to public parks and informal meeting places, conversation has become almost as specialized as the production of knowledge.” In the absence of walkable public places—streets, squares, and parks, the public realm—people of diverse ages, races, and beliefs are unlikely to meet and talk. Those who believe that Internet web sites and chat rooms are effective substitutes vastly underestimate the distinction between a computer monitor and the human body.