Since I've been blogging, I've become more involved with online communities and it's got me thinking about just what that means. I read several blogs related to faith & writing and read a message board on that subject just about everyday. Sometimes I post comments, though I've about decided that my comments are thread killers, because no one ever comments back. So I think I'll just keep my fingers quiet for a while.
But my whole reaction to the situation I've just described has been an eye-opener. Blogging and message boards and other online interactions give us a sense that we know these other people: they've shared their dreams, their lives, their experiences. It's rather seductive. They seem like more than just names on the screen.
There's even a sense of a larger conversation going on, a conversation about where faith and art intersect. It's fascinating and stimulating and fun.
But online interaction has its limitations. We can't hear each other's voices, we can't see each other's facial expressions. We get around that a little with emoticons, but it's still easy to misunderstand or read too much into a comment (or lack thereof). And we don't really know where each other is coming from. We don't have a long enough history with each other.
It helps me keep perspective to remember that I have a friend who knows me better than anyone else does, who knows my innermost thoughts and dreams, who knows his plans for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me (see Jer. 29:11). This is the friend I need to trust most of all, who will lead me where I need to be and will open doors (or close them) in my best interests and to his greater glory.
I enjoy this online community of fellow believers and writers that I've found, and I'm learning a lot from them, but my Lord is the best friend I'll ever have.