Over the last 6 months I have read various articles about the validity and reality of online community. I will agree that online friendships cannot replace the need for physical, face to face contact…and nor can it totally replace real physical contact.
However online communities are part of community and therefore the building of friendships and support networks on the net as part of one’s networking, friendships and community is valid. In centuries gone by; contact across shores was by letter. Then came the invention of the radio, telephone and now online media.
Yes its true that online friendships can be shallow. Yet its also true that our face to face friendships are just as shallow also. Recently in Australia we have seen a massive response to some national disasters. The medium of media has kept us connected. I don’t know many in QLD; yet I do feel their pain. I don’t know many in Perth or Victoria, but I do feel their pain and so there is a connection; however tenuous that is.
Recently fellow blogger Brian Fulthorp shared how he has had to throw all the books he and his wife have collected over the years away; because of toxic mould contamination. Brian and his wife are AOG missionary pastors; who pastor a small outreach on site of the Grand Canyon in America. Like many pastors, their income is small and this is a huge kick in the guts for them.
I have never met Brian; though I do pray for him regularly and hope to meet him one day in person. The response from the blogosphere has been amazing from many who only know him through his online presence. True community is actually seen to be put into action through a call and response to help him to replace his lost library…
Within this response we see a glimpse of the reality in that online communities are real and valid. For the net is only the media of communication and communication will always be a subset of human interaction; which is what community is all about.