How is community depressing?

I go through phases where “I love community” and “It’s amazing” to “aaaargh” and “I don’t know why I bother”.

Anyone else feel like this?


Responses from the Twitter thread:

  • Some communities have some really heavy shit that comes up that can be real depressing and tough to deal with.
  • people disappear out of the blue and you never see them again
  • When people treat you as their therapist
  • When the community managers simply don’t care about the product or the community so they treat community leaders like shit & let the developers take all the heat for bad decisions made by management.
  • Lack of CoCs and diversity of thought and members.
  • It can seem like a treadmill, with the same problems over and over.
  • When you see a dead community, without a community manager, and try to revive it yourself
  • Expectations not being met, either in terms of engaging, doing their bit, peer pressure, much like in any family.
  • When there’s a name tag on your shirt.
  • community can get into “cycles of behavior” because we’re all human (collectively too). Cycles can be virtuous or vicious. The vicious ones are pretty depressing
  • When people use the word but don’t mean it
  • Sometimes I don’t even want to engage in my own community. I’m just overwhelmed and drained from everything else and it just seems like such a hurdle. Makes me wonder how I can expect the same of my members. (On a good day this is easier to overcome.)
  • The absolute time investment it needs to build the whole thing AND keep everyone engaged. More so when the brand requires immediate returns on their investment into the community, because nothing here is instant.
  • That it was a trending concept for a few years and most people & orgs still don’t get it. It’s weird.
  • When community leaders can’t or won’t moderate discussions, and trolls or abusive participants disrupt too many conversations. -

Yes! And it’s actually interesting timing that you brought this up. I wrote this post in another community-based Slack last Friday. I definitely go through big swings of ups and downs myself.

“So, I went on a bit of a social media cleanse before I transitioned into online digital community work. One of the big reasons I feel like I left a lot of social media platforms was due to the effect it was having on my mental well-being and how much space things would take up in my head.”

I’m starting to see that happen to myself now in a community role as someone where I’m 1) a team of one and 2) have to put my face and content out a lot in our community.

I’ve started noticing some behavior flags for myself where I get certain highs from engagements and or lows from non-engagement. When I’ve been behind the scenes, I feel that it is a bit easier to celebrate the successes and failures from yourself (still can be hard, but a different experience).

Essentially, in some ways, I feel like I’m in these weird influencer role for my organization. Some days I like it, some days I don’t.

I guess if I was to bottom line what I’m asking for, it would be :
I’m wondering if anyone else feels similar because validation can be super important

If you do feel similar, have you figured out the special sauce? (usually time heals most things for me after some sleep, but just feeling a bit cloudy, today)


I find this really interesting, initially when I started out in this kind of community lead, knowledge management role I was really enthusiastic and had loads of ideas and overflowed with energy. And Like you I loved the highs and at the start it was all highs, because it was all new. Then it took a big dip, a huuuuge dip. I wasn’t getting the engagement, there was no back and forth it was a real struggle. It really, really got to me.

What I mean by this is that I thought the lack of engagement with the community was because people didn’t like me. I was the real issue. Each snub felt personal, and when its community each snub hurts. I started to review the data for each post that I put on to see what was driving engagement and what got the most likes or interaction, or converted to viewings and attendance at our events. This is where it became clear, it was nothing to do with me! It had become all about my ego. It was in fact about the community. Sometimes people are in a good space and will engage, sometimes they won’t. I had to shift my own perspective and try to not let it get to me.

My success is no longer measured by the number of people that like a post or comment on it. It now comes from my own value, that I know I am doing a good job. The community continues to grow and sometimes its glacial, sometimes it jumps up. Likewise with interaction a lot impacts that.

I believe in the content, I believe in what we are doing and I get on with it. Don’t get me wrong it still stings sometimes!


Absolutely something I can relate to.

Community can be wonderful, but it’s also exhausting. I found myself worn out and ground down by many factors.

It’s draining to deal with negative people (“sad sacks”) who get involved only to take up space and energy complaining about how they can’t change.

It’s draining to try and find others to help drive events and community building.

It’s draining to see low attendance at events you’ve worked hard to build up.

It’s draining to be seem like you’re alone, or nearly so, in caring about really important things.

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For me, I think it’s triggered when I feel like I’m not making enough progress.

Or often when people let me down, which is often associated to the not making the progress.

I don’t think others see what is going on behind the scenes in community. I don’t blame them, but we could use more understanding, consideration, and empathy.

All of these points.

And I think that the use of the word ‘draining’ is very appropriate.

I especially despair when I see that people grow up through a community, but not once give acknowledgement or support that the community has had a key role in their growth.

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It’s very easy to feel like it’s a personal thing. And most of us keep pushing regardless.

However, it can be depressing not to get the continued support. Or priority given to other things and the community things get forgotten.

I don’t think I’d really internalized the impact of folks who don’t give a shout-out to communities that helped them level up. That’s spot on.

And your other note about all of this seeming very personal? Wow. Yes. All of that. I’ve spent a LOT of time trying to dial back that “it’s personal” reaction of mine. I’m still nowhere as good at that as I need to be, despite a lot of reading and reflection on Stoic practices. :stuck_out_tongue:

I totally agree with this. I feel my own demons coming out when things are not moving fast enought. Then I have to remind myself this is about moving people an culture and that all takes time! SO MUCH TIME!! :slight_smile: :rofl:

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