Three Rings of Community

I just finished The Vanishing Neighbor by Marc Dunkelman. The premise of the book gives a lot of food for thought. Dunkelman groups our relationships into three rings: our first tier intimate relationships (our best friends), our second tier acquaintances that we see reasonably frequently like the people who live on our block or who we cross paths with at work, and third tier acquaintances who we rarely see physically or maybe have never even met but who we might follow on Facebook or otherwise be aware of but rarely interact one-on-one with.

His premise is that technology allows us to focus on the first and third tiers, to the detriment of our second tier relationships, which is why neighborhoods feel less neighborly today than they did 50 years ago. Fascinating model!

I wonder if there is something in the model that helps us frame learning, particularly informal learning. Does the rise of the first tier create stronger feelings of mentorship? Does the rise of the third tier expand our ability to share information and create timely connections with people who have similar interests? Does the loss of the second tier restrict our access to people who offer different perspectives?


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