Posts Tagged ‘EuroCAE’

My Many Communities Make my Head Spin!

October 19, 2013

The past several years have seen significant changes in my somewhat introverted demeanor. I find myself overwhelmed today by the many communities that I participate in. Here’s a taste of my “circle of social circles”:

I have a “significant other”, and my “other’s” friends – we’ll call that two circles (one especially significant).

For one of my clients, I coach a local product team and a Japanese product team – two circles. Associated with this client, I work in the WiMAX Forum’s Aviation Working Group, the RTCA’s Special Committee 223, EuroCAE’s Working Group 82 and ICAO’s ACP Working Group S – four circles. Google these if you want to know what they are!

I am the chairman of the WiMAX Forum Aviation Working Group. We have a protocol team and a certification team that I direct. We have a team devoted to FCC and FAA interaction that I oversee. We have a planning team for an annual Aviation Conference  in which I am a key contributor. Four more circles.

I belong to the IEEE, a global professional organization for engineers, and I participate in the local chapter, in the IEEE’s communications society, computing society and security society. Four more circles…

I belong to the System Dynamics Society – another circle.

I am the chapter president of my university’s engineering alumni association. We have a steering committee. We have an events team, and each event we hold has a “champion”. We have a communications team with champions for internal and external communications. That’s three circles. Because of my role in the local alumni association, I serve on the alumni association board of directors – add another circle. And I still participate in the local alumni association with no regard for department affiliation – add yet another circle for a total of five.

I am the President of my HOA. I have been doing this for about a decade. We have a Board of Directors, a crime watch team, a landscaping team, a perimeter wall maintenance team, and a newsletter team. Each team has a “champion” and periodic meetings that I participate in. That’s five circles… Because of my role in the HOA, I work closely with my City Council – add one more circle for a total of six.

I have circles of friends. College friends, Rockwell / Alcatel friends, ham radio friends, neighbor friends, “friend” friends who I have met along the way. I have lots of long-standing friends. Let’s call that four circles. I have a LinkedIn community and a Facebook community – two more circles, and the FaceBook community is really a circle of circles, but I’ll count Facebook as only one circle…

I look around me, and I notice that most people my age have a seemingly small handful of social circles. Mature adults are focused on jobs, family, and perhaps church – maybe a dozen communities at the most. I believe that the older you are, the harder it is to split your social focus, and the more reluctant you are to spread yourself too thin. By contrast, people coming out of college today typically have dozens and dozens of social circles and communities that they participate in.

I have to be frank, I find the large number of communities that I participate in frustrating. I like continuity, and I like intensity in my relationships. I like to know “the story” of every person I know, and I want to have credibility and integrity with every person I know – that takes time – a lot of time, and I have precious little time today. I have had weeks when I  traveled for more than 40 hours not counting sleep or work time – just the travel time. Time is a precious commodity, and it is sucked up in gulps by each community to which I belong.

I wonder how “solid” the communities of a twenty-something are. Are younger peoples’ relationships more shallow and fleeting today? I believe that is the case for many. If so, might that be the case for their lifetimes? Is this a social phenomenon that will impact politics, work and family in the coming decades? Is a social scientist studying this? I think this is significant.

How many communities do I participate in on almost a daily basis? Hmmm… Let me count – 32 circles. On a weekly basis, I try to meet with each “circle” at least once either face-to-face or by e-mail, or on a conference call. Some days, my head is spinning! It really is…