Ever since I read the following on Anne Jackson's blog, I haven't been able to stop thinking about it:
"I believe what happens online is connection—not community."
I almost immediately took issue with that as I'm sure you can imagine. After all, I spend most of my time in the book blogosphere and we almost pride ourselves on the community we have. "Is it not really a community," I mused. "Are we really just connecting over and over again over our shared love of books?" (and many other shared traits)
I guess this really begs the question....what is community? I looked it up on dictionary.com and while we don't match the "living in the same locality" definition, I do think we match this one: "a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists"
Um, books would be our common interest and our larger society would be the blogosphere.
But really, those definitions are a bit dry, so what is community?
Is community when you talk everyday to one another? Check (don't think our blogs are the extent our relationships...they aren't)
Is community when you celebrate each other's personal victories in life? Check
Is community when you grieve each other's losses and heartbreaks together? Check
Is community when you plan a trip to see each other traveling over states to make it possible? Check
Is community when you work together to accomplish a common goal? Check
I suppose I'm missing some aspects of community, but I'm pretty confident in saying that the book blogosphere does indeed have a community.
And of course we have connection as well.
There is a lot of fear of the internet out there....even by big successful bloggers. I'm not saying that you should have only online friends...I think we all have relationships outside of our blogs. But what I'm saying is why keep analyzing if it's good or bad? It is what it is. There's some good and some bad. Just like when the telephone was invented. Just like when the radio and TV came along. The truth of the matter is this....as humans, we need to stop blaming technology for our problems and focus on the core conditions of our hearts that abuse and use technology. It's not the internet keeping people from having meaningful relationships, it's man's natural loneliness and feelings of isolation. And sometimes, just sometimes, it's through the screen, that we find that person who sees life as we do, it's through the interwebs we finally find someone who consumes the written word and values it like we do. And I'm sorry, I just won't say that it's less than it is. It is good.
I welcome your thoughts...community or connection? The internet is evil or the internet just is?