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The first response of a group seeking community is most often to try to fake it. The members attempt to be an instant community by being extremely pleasant with one another and avoiding all disagreement. This attempt, this pretence of community can be called "pseudocommunity". It never works.

Beware of instant community! Community building requires time, effort and sacrifice. It cannot be bought cheaply. Also, it is at least as easy to build community among unsophisticated people as it is among sophisticated people. It’s just that the sophisticated maybe more adept at faking it.

In pseudocommunity a group attempts to purchase community cheaply by pretence. It is an unconscious, gentle process where people who want to be loving attempt to love by telling white lies, by withholding some of the truth about themselves and their feelings in order to avoid conflict. It is an inviting, but illegitimate shortcut to nowhere.

The essential dynamic of pseudocommunity is conflict avoidance. The absence of conflict by itself does not mean pseudocommunity as genuine communities may experience lovely and sometimes lengthy periods free from conflict. But, that is because they have learned how to deal with conflict rather than avoid it. Pseudocommunity is conflict avoiding; true community is conflict resolving.

What is characteristic of pseudocommunity is the minimising, the lack of acknowledgement or the ignoring of individual differences. Nice people are so accustomed to being well-mannered that they are able to deploy their good manners without even thinking about what they are doing. In pseudocommunity it is as if every individual member is operating according to the same book of etiquette. The rules of this book are: Don’t do or say anything that might offend someone else; if someone does or says something that offends, annoys or irritates you, act as if nothing has happened and pretend you are not bothered in the least; and if some form of disagreement should show signs of appearing, change the subject as quickly and smoothly as possible - rules that any good hostess knows. It is easy to see how these rules make for a smoothly functioning group. But they also crush individuality, intimacy and honesty. The longer it continues the duller it gets.

The basic pretence of pseudocommunity is the denial of individual differences. Also, people tend to speak in generalities. To avoid the risk of conflict, others keep their feelings to themselves and even nod in agreement, as if the speaker has uttered some universal truth. In a community building workshop, members are not allowed to get away with blanket statements. It is easy to prevent pseudocommunity from continuing beyond an early stage by challenging platitudes and generalisations. One thing that we need to learn in building community is how to speak personally, how to use "I" and "my" statements.