Date us don’t stalk us: The power of community

I had an uplifting experience last week and it was driven by my community, The Beaches.

Thursday morning I was reading my Facebook page and saw a note asking ‘has anyone found the Bengal cat that is lost and has been having seizures’?  The answer was no and I remember thinking how sad that was.

But let me step back and give some background.  I am part of my local community on Facebook, ‘The Beaches-Toronto’ and every day there are snippets of good news stories, recommendations, requests for help or anything relating to events in our area.  It reinforces the village feel and allows good neighbours to be…well good neighbours.  There are some aspects that I don’t like such as people complaining or judging others which can quickly incite a moral high ground lynch mob.  For instance there is a guy who walks on the beach wearing a short sarong maybe no underpants – I am happily unsure; he has a guitar and asks groups of women if they would like to hear a song (I stress women and not young girls).  I have witnessed this and had a chuckle with my husband and moved on – to me it seemed pretty harmless.  However, there are those that feel that he puts the community in danger and some even questioning whether it was safe to bring their children to the beach if this man was lurking around.  I don’t like this kind of news, because there is usually little context and people often jump to assumptions that can do harm to an individual.  Ok so the guy may have bad dress sense and no one wants to see what is underneath a mans kilt on a lovely sunny day, but should he be annihilated on social media without all the facts? Anyway that aside, I love being part of this group, my community and part of daily life here.

So when I saw this note about a Bengal cat it touched me, I have two cats and remember how I felt when my Leonard went missing last year.  I was besides myself and there were plenty of tears but luckily he turned up in the garden later that night –  so maybe I overreacted just a little.  Anyway I got up to my usual routine and was on my way out the door to take my dog Pepe out for a walk and there in my driveway was an orange cat which reminded me about the lost cat.  I called my husband who told me he had seen a lost poster for the same missing cat down our road.  So off I ran to get the owners number.  Ten minutes later she arrived at our house to find her cat Moby in our bushes.  It turns out he had been lost for 6 days after suffering a seizure and running away in confusion, he was diabetic and had been without his meds all this time.

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Colleen, Moby’s owner, was absolutely over the moon and the relief was obvious, I doubt she had slept much in the last few days and had resigned herself to the probability that he was not going to be found.  She thanked me in person and on the FB community page and everyone rejoiced in the finding of this cat and reinforced why they loved their community so much.  We take care of each other, and this happy ending would not have been possible without the wide net of the digital village.

So why am I talking about this on a blog which is about protecting our personal information?  It is because I believe that for organisations to fully tap into our behaviour and gain access to our information they should start with being part of our community and metaphorically speaking be a good neighbour.  We prefer to be flirted with and taken for dinner rather than have a secret admirer rifle through our trash.  Once we are sufficiently  wooed we will share our personal information with the advantage of trusting who we are sharing it with, organisations could then gain so much more from this two way relationship and gather far deeper insight into our habits. I would rather willingly give someone my address than have them follow me home!

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