Thrown into an unfamiliar situation, complete strangers seem to spontaneously form impromptu communities and start looking out for each other.

In the last 14 days or so of travelling through several Middle Eastern countries, I have found myself a member of about 6 different tour groups of people.

Regardless of the demographics of the group, a community always forms. Its members would automatically start looking out for one another – especially when there was a (perceived) risk of losing someone in a crowded souk or historical site.

And when each tour is over, the community would quietly and amiably fade away. Sometimes email addresses were exchanged – but that is not always the case. Sometimes names were never learnt or remembered – but that was ok too. It did not diminish the sense of mutual meerkat-like care.

Does this sort of community form online? The only space I can immediately think of where this could happen is in games where you meet and collaborate with strangers to play.

Back in the real world, this probably also happens in post-disaster scenarios, where groups of strangers band together in the face of shared trauma and uncertainty.