In the world of planning and community building there is a hierarchy of places that is often referred to as first, second, and third places. As many of you probably know, first place is your home. Second place is where you work. And third places are where you commonly spend your time outside of the first two places. This could be a coffee shop, gym, barber shop, bar, or some other social anchor that serves to connect you with other people. In fact, you probably have multiple third places.
Some have argued that online communities have started to fill the role of third place. And it is true that social networks have used what works offline in order to build and grow their communities online. So in some ways, the internet has brought third places into our first place. Similarly, lockdown has brought our second place into our first place. And now everyone is debating to what extent we even needed these other places. Aren’t Zoom and TikTok enough?
For those who don’t have a second place — such as, for example, freelancers — it is common to rely more heavily on third places, which then become pseudo second places. Why is that? Isn’t a first place enough? Because it’s an opportunity to get out and be around other humans. Cities are built around these other places. It’s where, in the words of Jerry Seinfeld, we “coagulate together.” And I just don’t see that changing. Do you?