The potential for communal impact is much more abundant in densely populated areas (there are simply more people around), yet tightly bonded communities seem to form more frequently in small towns with far fewer people. Why?
Maybe it’s because cities abstract the needs, desires, and judgements of a community to groups of a higher order (often companies, governments, associations, etc). Because I pass 600 people on the street every morning, no one person is particularly incidental. In addition, consensus or norms and values cannot easily be spread or enforced with a population of this size. After all, shame only works within persistent groups (if you won’t see someone ever again, you’re less likely to care what they think of you).
However, all is not lost on the cityfolk. With the wide range of norms and values, it lures in folks who may not identify with the tribe where they currently exist. Smaller, and more intense tribes can exist among noise of the crowd, making a community bond which may be more relevant, more intentional, and even stronger than those which are built through proximity alone.
Maybe we’ll forever desire the tribal bonds - the ones that were once bound by suffering (in a world that has far less of it than we were designed for). For the first time, many of us have the agency to choose our tribes, but maybe we’re unqualified to make such assessments, so we’re left feeling confused.#