Electronic Community?   1 comment

I object to it, because it’s a myth.

It’s ridiculous to think that having a social networking site is going to assure community, connection and relationships.

This, my friends, is impossible.

In a world where introductions have shrunk to a mere first name, soon forgotten, true, intimate relationships are difficult to build.  And, they don’t happen on a website.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook.  (Most of the time; sometimes I hate it.)  That site has made many things possible.  I’ve reconnected with long-lost friends.  I would have had no other simple way to find them nor they me.  I now am able to talk with Becky from third grade in Alaska, Rosanne from fifth grade in Montana, and any number of dear friends from junior high and high school in Oklahoma.  I can keep up with current friends where I live now.  But I can only do it in black letters on a screen.  And I can only do it with people who like to sit and type black letters on a screen.  If they aren’t using the tool, I’m not connecting with them at all.

And there’s something to be said for being face to face.

For one thing, it takes a lot more time.  It takes effort to schedule a time that works for both of you.  It takes energy to get yourselves to the same location so you can be in each others’ presence.  It’s a lot of work.  It’s just easier to be at home, email when I’m ready, text if I want to, and check messages when I darn well feel like it.

And the current reality is that information is disseminated and projects organized entirely on the internet.  Churches are now set up where you get all your information online.  I just need to accept that reality and make it work.

I’m having a bit of trouble with that.  In some of the groups on my church’s website, there are almost no members.  If I go to the group and it tells me there are 2 members, 50% of whom have “engaged” today, and I can clearly see that 50 % is me, and also observe that the website’s apparent definition of “engagement” must be “turning on the internet and going to this particular website,” (because that is all I just did) frankly, I call that insane.

That is not engagement and no community was strengthened in that moment.   You can call it engagement, but saying so ain’t going to make it so.  It’s just an electronic interface.  If people aren’t using it, it doesn’t connect them.

Now, that can change.  As more people become aware of this particular group on this particular social network, it will introduce us to each other and help us help each other.

In my experience, the bottom line for relationship building is time spent together–face to face–working, talking, sharing, living alongside each other.  That is what builds relationships.  Eating dinner together, laughing, arguing, making up.  That is what brings joy, intimacy and community.  Suffering together, helping each other.  That is what matters.

I think I’m done with the internet for today.



Posted October 31, 2014 by swanatbagend in community

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One response to “Electronic Community?

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  1. Glad we had dinner tonight! 🙂

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