Virtual Community

"...we will do everything possible to avoid the confrontation with theexperience of being alone, and sometimes we are able to create the most ingenious devices to prevent ourselves from being reminded of this condition." ~Henri Nouwen, Reaching Out

I think we could aptly described ourselves as the "connected generation."  I cruise Facebook, see pictures of a dear friend from her sixth grade year of elementary school.  She's 11, then, hair in pig-tails suspended mid-air while she jumps a rope.  She has never not known a connected world.  Her status has always been known to the world.

It's not enough that we constantly consume the personal information of others, that we provide our own endless streams of status updates, profiles, blog posts, and links.  We interact with them.

(Yes, I understand the irony in this post.)

Scott tweets a David Platt quote and I retweet it, begin a twittersation about the efficacy of the Gospel.  Preston writes about profanity and laziness, he repents publicly so I send it on to my friends, give Preston an "atta-boy." (And by the way, you really should read Preston's piece. It's good.)  The High Calling publishes daily  articles on-line, and I repost them, comment on them, interact with the authors.

Each of these interactions masks my aloneness; each feigns "community" or at least gives some sense of virtual togetherness.  But here's the confession, I've never met any of these people... not in real life anyway.

Don't get me wrong, I love my interactions in this space.  If I didn't, I would not write here.  Scott, Preston, and The High Calling contribute in good ways to this space we call the internet, and I'm genuinely encouraged by their work.  But I've heard others advocate "online communities" as if these kind of virtual interactions are sufficient.  This is community, they argue.

Perhaps I'm about to commit blog suicide, but I've never been one to shy away from putting down a good dog, so to speak.  Here goes.

Do you think that social media provides us with community?  Is it real community at all?  Are there any aspects of "community" that lack in social media?  Are there any benefits of a connected, online community?  Have you read any books, articles, or studies that have helped form your opinions?  And what does scripture have to say about all of this (if anything at all)?

I think you can argue both ways here.  I'm genuinely interested to hear your thoughts.  Please jump in.  I'd still like to hear from the doctors, farmers, housewives, social activists, blue-collar, white-collar, black, white, and everyone in-between.  If you are a lurker or non-commentor, that's great... but today is your second chance to jump in.

I'd love to put some flesh on these bones.  Who's first?