Monday 20 August 2012

Where is our Community?

Where is the online Buddhist community? A few years ago this was one of but a few bustling blogs filled with people who seemed commited to both their Buddhist practice and engagement with the world (via blogs, at least).

Today so many of the 'names and faces' of 2007,8,9 and 10 are gone or have simply shifted interest.

Perhaps their practice went deeper, drawing them away from the distractions of online communication.

Perhaps their interest in practice went away, and with it their interest in online communication.

Perhaps politics, family, hobbies, studies, etc., became more pressing.

I know I'm not much help. I took over this blog a few months back (or is it a year already...?) and haven't done much since. My own blog was 'picked up' by, which has been great in terms of exposure to a new and broader community, but it has also meant that I have tried to focus there with better writing and fewer travel photos and details of my life.

So I request this: your help.

If you're already a contributor here, try to post more. Try to bring us together. Ask questions. Solicit feedback.

If not - consider becoming a contributor. You can email me (see side panel on the right) and I can add you (you'll need a gmail/blogger account). I'd hope for a post a month from people, but there's plenty of room for extras or time off.

As Buddhism continues to grow and develop in the 21st century, we need more intelligent, thoughtful people willing and able to discuss it and to put in the time needed to write well-crafted blog posts/short articles about it.

This blog still gets several hundred hits per day which speaks very well of the many wonderful people who have contributed over the years. But we need your help, to make sure those hits are worthwhile to all of the people just now searching for and discovering the world of Progressive Buddhism.

1 comment:

  1. The decline is dramatic, and seen across the full spectrum of such forums for discussion.

    The academic forum hosted by Prof. Richard Hayes that was full of rambunctious slander 10 years ago is now completely silent --so much so that when I re-joined the group I repeatedly checked to see if the thing was broken or working. I had re-joined after a pause of ten years, much of which was spent in far-off places like Laos and Cambodia, where I wasn't going to maintain such correspondence.

    If you look through various Buddhist discussion forums hosted on the Yahoo system, you get a graphical overview of the number of messages sent over time; most of them hit a peak in 2006 or so, and then declined rapidly after that, with silence or near-silence since 2010. I mention Yahoo lists specifically because the statistics are easier to see in this fashion, but you can conduct the same experiment with google groups and other list-servs with slightly more clicking and squinting involved.

    There are real issues to be discussed under this heading, but there are also merely-technological issues involved. The culture of communication is changing.

    Between 2001 and 2008, the number of Buddhists in the U.S. did not increase, and it remains an extremely small number. See figure 1:

    Most studies admit that rates of conversion to Buddhism are "balanced" by extraordinarily high rates of attrition. Many people do leave Buddhism, and they don't (in general) write blogs about what disappointed them, nor why they left. In my direct experience, they often have very good reasons for leaving, that deserve to be taken more seriously (by monks, etc.) than they are at present.

    There is no outcome evaluation for why individuals leave, nor for while whole institutions collapse, and I know of many "dharma centers" (etc.) that have indeed closed their doors. There seems to be little sincere interest in understanding why --but there are substantive reasons in all cases that I'm aware of myself.

    I assume that you guys already know about the rest of my blog, BTW,