I finished my last post, “Giving Up an Addiction,” and shut down my computer. I was late and had to hurry to get ready for a gathering of friends. We were meeting see photographs of a trip to India and Bali that one of us took last winter.
I got my projector out of storage so my friend could display her pictures on a wall. I went to our local grocery store, Fircrest Market, to buy some 3-bean salad, my contribution to the potluck dinner that we would share before the show. As I drove up the hill to where she lives, I confess that I felt smug self-satisfaction that I would invest the next few hours in actual face-to-face friendships.
I said hello to our host and went to work connecting the wires from her computer to my projector. All went well. (With technology, how often does that happen?) On time now, I breathed a sigh of relief and settled into a comfortable chair and waited for the rest of our group to arrive.
First to arrive was Christian. A mischievous glint in his eye hinted he had something provocative to say. “So, how are you doing on overcoming your addiction?”
The post had been up less than two hours! Already I was face-to-face with a blog reader eager to put the lie to my musings about the gulf between virtual and actual reality.
And I know that some members of my family (not my wife, though!), my spiritual community, my neighborhood community, my friends, and school community—all of whom I meet in actual life—read my blog from time to time. The wall between virtual reality and actual reality is actually a membrane. Like most walls.
So, as this post evidences, I will continue to write.
Thank you, all my “virtual” friends for your thoughtful comments on yesterday’s post. I thought I would respond to them here:
If I were in your neighborhood, I would be honored to come to your barbecue. I am glad to know my blogs have helped you have a better real day. The practice of gratitude—a practice I continue to do, though not online, for it seems smug—does offer real benefits. I find comfort when I re-frame my mind to hold what’s good in our wonderful world.
I thank you for your comment. I am sure that we would enjoy a walk together and that I would learn a lot about the plants and animals that we passed along the way.
It’s all about balance. You alluded to a quality of blogging that I am uncomfortable with: the competitiveness (is that what it is?) of having lots of people follow your blog and leave very brief comments. It sometimes feels like a popularity contest mixed in with “if I leave a comment on your blog, I expect you leave a comment on mine.” Mixed in with that is an unspoken feeling of, “I’ve got more followers-visits-comments than you.” Is it just me?
If you ever come to California, I hope we can find a way for the four of us to share a walk. Your blog is a gem.
Your blog, too, is one I’ve come to treasure for its openness, honesty, vulnerability, and faith. I remembered your post about meeting an online friend in the 3-D world, and I think that’s great. I know it happens, as my vignette today tells. As with others, if you ever do make it to San Francisco, let me know. We’d enjoy some tears and laughter, I’m sure.
Thank you for your thoughtful remarks. You make good points about how when the focus of blogging is on sharing ideas as opposed to collecting online friends blogging can have real value. Your blog serves as a good model for idea-driven content. And, as you say, if the by-product of the intellectual discourse is friendship, well, that’s wonderful.
I very much enjoy your blog, and continue to be astounded by the many overlaps in our lives: like you I enjoy going sailing, kayaking, cycling, reading, playing music and having regular contact with family and friends in a variety of social contexts. Not to mention having been born in 1951 and enjoying a career invested in the education of young children.
As with all the above, Alden, if you ever get to California, look me up. I’ll see to it that you get an actual sailboat ride on the San Francisco Bay!