SansBlogue  
Friday, June 25, 2004
 
Community and action in blogsphere and 'real life' ::

Steve's recent appeal for volunteers to adopt a cheaper diet for a week, and donate the difference to mission, did not fall on deaf ears. COMMENTS and Maggi's extensive musings demonstrate that we read his post. Yet as I write, I'm away from Internet access on a three day writing retreat, no one has volunteered to join Steve. (Still haven't publicly as far as I can see!)

Like others I was stirred by Steve's appeal, so why did we not act?

I cannot speak for you. You'll have to front up to Steve for yourselves! For me lethargy was introduced by the complexity of the required action. Not the menus, but the social complexity:
Barbara does the shopping, but I do the cooking
Four (or often less, who can predict the movements of teens and twenty-somethings) others share our table
I am the only reader of Emergent Kiwi in our household
The effort of explaining and motivating was too much, at least when multiplied by the sorts of issue that Maggi raises
BUT if our pastor at church had proposed such an action I'd have had moral support, others in the family would have taken up the cause and encouraged us to action. Such fragmentation can occur in face-to-face communities. However, the nature of the web, where everyone can choose and adopt 'places' that suit them encourages dissociation. The simplicity of online choice, and the absence of coercion by circumstances and of the positive reinforcement we get from 'doing things together' diminishes the power of online community.

Does this mean that blogsphere promotes only a faux-friendliness that hides a real individualism? Yes and no. Bloggers are mainly Westerners, inhabitants of the most fiercely individualist society yet known, not even the Spartans who reputedly left their ugly or sickly babies to die or sent them off as slaves failed to value social responsibility the way we do. How could we be anything but rugged individuals (my Thesaurus gives "rough, jagged and harsh" among rugged's synonyms).

Yet that's not all we are:
read Finker's poem and weep with him
watch as female bloggers support each other when some poor male lets slip a hurtfully sexist remark
or do as I did some months ago - write to some blogfriends and ask for help with a blog related project
That's when you notice the community beneath (or above) the isolation that life online allows.

[I wrote allows there because there are more of us introverts online than in 'real life' and, along with our particular strengths and gifts, the sin we risk is to isolate ourselves from others.]


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