In the most recent issue of Time Magazine, Mark Dery, author and cultural critic, observes:
“A lot of technologies, such as Flickr, blogging and the iPod, seek to turn the psyche inside out, to extrude the private self into the public sphere. You have people walking down the street listening to iPods , seemingly oblivious to the world, singing. More and more, we’re alone in public.”
After spending a long thought-provoking day at GodBlogCon 05, I have been churning in my head about how excited a group of bloggers were to actually put down our laptops and talk to each other (with lots of coincidental live blogging, of course). The conversation about blogging and Christian Community ultimately brought us back to both genius and the limitation with the blogosphere: we can “connect” but not touch, we can talk but not see, we can hear without knowing.
Most of us were far more impacted by conversation, handshakes and lunches together than by anything we have written or read so far. And part of our excitement is recognizing and embracing the limitations of blogging. For, example, part of what we realized is that we all continue to need more diversity, more interaction, more voices, more relationship, not less.
In the same article, David Brooks wonders if the internet is actually hindering what he calls “demographic diversity” even while it helps create more “geographic diversity”: “There once were millions of people in Elks Clubs and Elks Clubs were incredibly diverse. These days, with say, online dating, you can screen people who aren’t demographically like yourself.”
In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins said that organizations who wish to leave an enduring legacy need to recognize that technology is nothing more or nothing less than an “accelator” of the core values, vision and beliefs of a group. Or as Esther Dyson, said: “The internet is like alcohol in some sense. It accentuates what you would do anyway. You can be a loner or you can connect.”
What was reinforced for me at the conference and reiterated by suggestions like Bill Rice’s is that genuine Christian community, discipleship and cultural transformation cannot be brought about through any technical medium if the commitment to Christian community, discipleship, and transformation are not the “hardware” that is at the core of all we do.
As someone deeply committed to enhancing healthy, faithful, missional Christian communities, I need to keep thinking about both the potential and problems of this technology, with this one clear conviction: Blogging is not an answer, but a tool.
Tomorrow, I'll leave GodBlogCon behind and jump back into more reflections on Becoming a Kingdom Community.