Virtual Community

Many years ago, and for many years, I used to host a monthly lunch meeting of like-minded observers of things economic, political, and philosophical, for a no-holds-barred off the record 90 minutes of spirited discussion over scrumptious food.   The crew was heavily weighted towards minarchist thinkers, mostly of the Hayekian economist model.  One of my stalwart participants was MarkM, who for decades was a policy analyst for international brokerage firms, and one of the most insightful men I have ever met.  To this day, and I still receive his weekly newsletter, if he says something I pay very close attention.

At one point (1990?) he was musing about the coming schisms and reorganization of the culture, eventually breaking apart and reforming into what he called “gated communities of interest.”  In his thesis, people would use the internet and other vehicles to find fellow travelers for whatever the interest in question was, and these new virtual communities would in great part supersede our physical neighborhoods.  Notwithstanding this was more than a quarter century ago, as I live in the least populous county east of the Mississippi I find his words to have been prescient.

I’ve been thinking about Mark’s comments recently as I reflect on my circle of correspondence, spanning multiple topics and including many people I have never met in person.  In some cases the interactions do develop a physical manifestation as we “strangers” send items to each other.

Recently one of my correspondents demonstrated a profound understanding of both me and my philosophical heritage when this item arrived in the mail from him.  I cannot say I was truly surprised at one level, as our emails have revealed that he has a better understanding of US history and perspectives than almost any US citizens, despite the fact that this man has never set foot on our soil (although I am encouraging him to emigrate to the Virginia Highlands).  Further, I already knew him to be immensely talented and highly skilled, and this panel of copper punch-work bears that out.

With that, I give you the new and treasured accouterment for my shop, and the honored location for this artwork in The Barn.  Every time I gaze out on the mountains, which is pretty often, my eye is taken to this symbol of my own political inclinations.

And I think of a friend I have never met in person, an esteemed citizen of my own Virtual Community.