Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Hard Truth about Online "Community"

Ever wonder what life would be like if social media didn't exist...or how people (particularly post-millennials) would respond if life suddenly reverted back to how it was in the '90's (i.e. the last decade when face-to-face interaction was still the dominant form of communication)?

It's crazy to consider, right? The idea of people living veilless without their lazy, electronic luxuries in their self-preserved anonymity...

Granted, there are clear benefits to living in a more technically savvy world...I get that.

However, I also know...as a culture, we've become so accustomed to online interaction, so used to anti-social means of socializing...we've forgotten what it's like to relate...what it means to care...

...not to mention what real1, genuine community looks like.

With that said, perhaps one day we’ll recognize the contrast between brotherly and self-seeking affection...between connecting and relating...

…but 'til then, as long as we can showcase our thoughts, our views...and participate in something that edifies our "right" to be heard, all is going to be well in the world...

...even when it isn't.

Not to suggest one's relational needs can't be temporarily satisfied2...that virtual camaraderie can't spiral into something more3…or that all4 online community is counterfeit. 

I'm just saying when we start equating and substituting electronic relationships for the real thing...when we spend too much time trying to forge social value and meaning through dead-end means, we only deprive ourselves from being the outwardly-focused, others-centered difference-makers we were created to be.

So how then are we to engage those who’ve settled into the shallow end of the relational pool 5…hidden within their hollow chargeable world?

I submit: if we really want to find the truth, at some point, we must be willing to get real with ourselves, confront our fear of loving on purpose, and dare to live unconditionally

'Cause at the end of the day, if we're living our lives more concerned about our passion having a pedestal than our fellow man…then clearly we’re doing it wrong6

As for me, I just can’t sit on the sidelines…going through the same ol’ idle motions when there’s a whole new world of opportunity to bless, encourage, to do something meaningful.

Thus, as a personal resolution for 2016, I'm declaring this year to one of purified priorities, a year of closing the door on all futile efforts seeking empty admission, a year of saying "yes" to coffees and lunches...and "no" to superficial community.

After all, what sense does it make to attempt (or reattempt) connection with those so easily content in judging a book by its cover...an iceberg by its tip...and a man by his (unseen) outward appearance?

Footnotes

1) Key word here
2) i.e. a "finger-in-the-dike" fix
3) Case and point: I have an aunt who met her future husband through e-harmony
4) Again, key word; also, with respect to online community, it's important not to assume each forum/group is as open as it appears. 'Cause truth is: online "communities" are, in most cases, cliques in disguise with partisan treatment toward outsiders. 
5) It’s no wonder we’ve grown numb to basic human strongholds (i.e. pride, prejudice, self-love, manipulation, gossip, etc.) and needs (i.e. belonging, esteem, respect, compassion, etc.) considering this lifestyle strips one of being able to believe the best/give the benefit of the doubt…
6) Matthew 5:9 - You are in the right place when relationships are more valuable to you than your own interests.

Photo creds: ct-social.com, http://4.bp.blogspot.com
Thanks to tennesseewx.com for this post's inspiration

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.

No comments: