• Irish Corish

Bring back Community Spirit

Updated: Dec 9, 2020

It's been a few years now that I haven't felt part of a community. I wonder if it's being an expat or if it's just society has changed? Unfortunately I fear it's the latter.

I feel we are losing our sense of community since smartphones came in. It's so common now to look around and see people with their heads down glued to their phones, not even recognising those around them or giving them a smile or a "bonjour". A friend of mine used to laugh at me when we went walking in the mountains, he said I sounded like a door bell... whenever anyone passed me I'd say "BOOOOOONNNJOUR" in my high pitched Irish accent!

I don't think it's the fault of the technology of smartphones or the boom of social media, I think its a generation of people not feeling self-assured. The phone has become like a cigarette or a drink in the hand, to help people feel less self conscious when out in public. When I was on one of the Gili Island's (near Bali) a couple of years ago travelling alone, I looked around this restaurant... on the beach, ok now I'm dreaming of being back there boooooo... I noticed there were 3 of us dining on our own. We all had our phone's on our tables, looking at them to not feel so self conscious I guess. So I asked the guy opposite me if he'd like to eat at my table. It was lovely to just connect with someone and have a real conversation. I don't know if I would do that in a local restaurant in Antibes but maybe I will next chance I get!

I also feel we are losing our sense of community since we haven't been allowed to enter into our children's schools or hold events at the school since the attack in Nice in 2016. (I remember the panic a couple of years ago when a group of mums were told to stop selling homemade crepes outside the school as a fundraiser... we had to eat them pretty fast while I passed around my glasses case to collect money discretely before the police arrived!).

To add to all of the above, Coronavirus hits us in March this year! Who could of imagined the impact? It's like watching a zombie movie when you see people walking around with masks on, not greeting each other with the usual lovable "bises" (kiss on both cheeks), or seeing that scared / judging look in people's eyes if you walk too close to them. Someone told me recently they have been working on their facial expressions in the mirror at home to try to move their eye brows so people can tell if he is being serious, smiling, or sad behind his mask!

There is a shift occurring however. A few good things to come out of all these Covid19 restrictions I've noticed are - I'm chatting more with my elderly neighbours... and no, for those of you who know me, that has nothing to do with the recent discovery that my bathroom window is frosted on the wrong side eeeehhheemmm)..., I've noticed more couples / families out walking together on their hour of sport and I've noticed a wonderful, much needed, solidarity with people supporting their local businesses.

It's been such a horrific year for local businesses forced to close and watch their turnovers, their livelihoods plummet. It's hard enough in France for companies to survive, so my heart went out to them.

The words "Community Management" caught my eye a few months ago so I signed up for a course. I realised with this training and my marketing & business experience I can maybe make a difference to these people's livelihoods by either: setting them up with an online presence for their shops / businesses, or by injecting life into their existing social media accounts so they reach the right clients and sell online, or by just simply advising them on some marketing techniques for their products.

I launched a campaign "SUPPORT LOCAL" on instagram for people to share local business's posts on their "stories". I really hope I can bring our community together online to spread the word to #supportlocal. Take a look at my "Support Local Highlights" on @irish.corish instagram for examples and see if you can do the same. Simply choose a nice post from a local business you'd like to help, click on the Arrow sign under that picture, press "add post to your story" and post. Add that story to your Highlights if you can so it lasts for more than 24hours. Any questions just comment & am happy to help show you how to do it.

It is more important than ever for us to invest in our communities... we may all be more isolated or obsessed with our phones but we need to get through these tough times to help eachother and strengthen our communities - #supportlocalbusinesses #soutenonsnoscommerces.

"A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as norms, religion, values, customs, or identity. Communities may share a sense of place situated in a given geographical area (e.g. a country, village, town, or neighbourhood) or in virtual space through communication platforms." Wikipedia

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