Technological Community: Connection or Camouflage?

Watch out for Community! Marek J writes. Because Community Makes Ends Meet!
He’s talking about the community enabled by technology — the one that gives each person with a computer a voice that can be sent and heard and responded to ’round the world. But this is a community of literally untouchables. It is real but has no tangibility. And in this community, it’s too often so hard to tell what’s true and what’s camouflage, what’s real and what’s illusion, what’s factual and what’s just wishful thinking or self-deception.
In this blog community some connect with honesty and some hide behind fantasy. We can use our voices to sound like a community, but we really don’t have much of a chance to act like actual members of a real community.
When you live alone and you’re vomiting and fainting and have to get to the emergency room (as happened to one of my local friends this weekend) the virtual community is not much help. She needed someone to get over to her house, help her call an amulance, clean up the messes she left on her bedding and floor. Someone in her real, actual community of physical friends went over and took care of it all. And then I went to the emergency room to pick her up, take her home, and make sure she had what she needed.
When widely loved blogger and “virtual” friend Burningbird went into the hospital for gall bladder surgery, none of us from the virtual community was there to hold her actual hand, drive her back and forth — do all of those things that we might have wanted to do and what one usually looks to her community to help her with. But we weren’t there; couldn’t be there except in thought, in voice. When the currents of real life knock us off our feet, leave us in a tangible mess, “voice” can’t do anything to help beyond giving moral support.
We need more than this community of voices in our lives. We need real, actual, people with bodies as well as hearts and voices to help us with the things that life is really, physically, actually about.
For those of us who live alone, this blogging community is an important connection to other voices, other minds. But the process of actual, physical, tangible living requires so much more than that kind of connection, that kind of friendship, that kind of community.
Watch out for (virtual) Community! Don’t expect more from it than it can give.

3 thoughts on “Technological Community: Connection or Camouflage?

  1. This is one reason I thought the NY Blogger get-together was so valuable. We made in-person connections as a follow-up to our virtual ones. Now Julia’s going to help us find a place to live near her, for instance. A few people are looking out for job openings for me. It can work, it just has to be followed up on. The virtual community certainly isn’t a be-all and end-all, but it can be treated as a starting point.

  2. I’m sorry that I missed the NY bloggers thing, and, yes, you’re right about blogging being a superb support for networking. A listserv or IRC might serve the same purpose as well, but blogging really does give us a better sense of who the personalities and lives of the bloggers than those other process of communication.

  3. Elaine, I’ll make sure that you’re informed whenever the next NY bloggers gathering is held; you’d definitely fit right in with our eclectic mix!

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