Facebook, Twitter and Other Forms of "Community"


A while back my friend Matt wrote a blog post about the internet being “real” community. In this post he noted the way in which virtual community can at times serve as community when face-to-face interaction is impossible. (you should read the post)

He also came back with the other side of the issue by noting how maintaining long-distance relationships through facebook can give us an excuse to avoid the hard work of making new friends where we live. (its short, you should read it too!)

Both sides of this issue have been noted in our little community lately. Ron Myers made a great comment today about the need to actually sit in each other’s homes instead of always calling or emailing. I completely agree.

And yet we have also been realizing the value of tools like blogs, facebook and even twitter recently. We’ve noted before that it seems that we have made friends more quickly here 
than we have at other times and places (even though there were folks in those places who eventually became very close friends). One theory for how we’re connecting so quickly is the wellsbrothers blog – people have had a chance to get to know Rach through her writing – which is made possible by her very personal writing style. People come up and start conversations as though they are old friends…which leads us to work that much harder to get to know them in return.

Similarly, Rachel has pointed out that while facebook isn’t the same as a face-to-face conversation, it can certainly aid those conversations. There are some people that you just don’t see everyday – keeping up with them on facebook allows Rachel to be more specific when she does have a chance to see them. Instead of, “how ya’ been?” She says, “hey, your status update said that the kids were sick, how’s everyone doing?”

The most recent update of facebook included some interesting changes to pages, which are now basically a profile for non-humans. Christ Journey’s page is becoming quite helpful – blog posts are noted, discussions and questions can be posted on the wall, picture albums are put up and advertised, events can not only be posted on the calendar, but invitations can be sent to “fans” of Christ Journey. Its a quite helpful tool for connecting.

I’m still a bit on the fence regarding twitter – even though I’m tweeting now. Presently I think it can be good. Before becoming a blogger I used to hear people talk how self-absorbed blogging was: who cares that you brushed your teeth twice today? But then I realized that more than merely an online diary, blogging provides free publishing for those who like to write, an online discussion forum for processing through difficult issues, and a chance to help family keep in touch when an evil son/son-in-law loads up the grandbabies and moves them to New Orleans….hypothetically.

Twitter can also start conversations, as I recently discovered when my twitter update mentioned the possibility of a community garden (consequently Andy Lancaster says that his father’s garden can be expanded if we would like to use that space!). Plus, since I can send in twitter updates from my phone, which facebook then posts as a status update, its handy. Again, this can be a source of self-absorption or it can be a tool for remaining connected.

So with all that said, I invite you to connect with us on facebook and twitter if you haven’t already. And if you are on facebook and haven’t done so, become a “fan” of Christ Journey – it’ll help us keep you up to speed on the goings-on in our little community and provide an opportunity for you to engage in one more way. Just search for Christ Journey.

I can definitely still see both pro’s and con’s in these virtual communities. As always I urge you to take the via media (middle way) recognizing that extreme responses are often the most dangerous, destructive and flawed. Recognize the difficulties and short-comings of virtual community. Do not allow blogs and status updates to replace real life conversations…but also don’t miss the opportunities for blogs and status updates to help you take some of those conversations to the next level.

Just a thought.

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Posted on April 12, 2009, in blogs, community, facebook, missional community, missional living, twitter, virtual community. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I find this scripture to be true on so many levels: “The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.” (Ecc 7:18b, NIV) Or from The Message: “A person who fears God deals responsibly ith all of reality, not just a piece of it.” Food for thought…

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