Friday, July 23, 2010

The Real World

Yesterday we talked a little bit about the Virtual Village and how kick awesome it is. Really, I still geek out a little when I get to actually interact with people that I don't know outside of the screen. When a blogging friend in Costa Rica offers advice on the bird in my house, it makes me giggle. When one of my favorite authors leaves a happy birthday message on my facebook wall, I still get a little giddy. It still baffles me that some of my most long-term friends are people that I've never met in real life, even though we've sent Christmas cards and gifts and pictures for over a decade. I've been around the internets for a while now so none of this should be that weird, but I'm still just old enough to remember when we didn't have access like this, so I still freak out a little. And I love it.

But there ARE draw-backs to the virtual village. As I commented yesterday, I was thrilled to find other people like me. It can be easy to feel alone and when you realize that you're not, it can be very liberating. But one of the negative aspects of that community is that I can immerse in that to the exclusion of all other view points. When I do that, it's easy to forget that I have to interact with people in real life who have all kinds of different ideas than me, and I need to deal with them in a peaceful, respectful manner and work to understand where they're coming from. When I cut myself off from other ideas (which is easy to do when I can pick and choose what I read or with whom I'm interacting, I miss a whole other group that doesn't think the way I do, and that is detrimental to all of us.

In a more tangible way, the internet just cannot deliver a hug well. I mean, I have definitely got the warm fuzzies from a nice comment on the blog or a DM compliment on Twitter. But this ---> {{{{}}}} does NOT equal a real hug. I can share quips or LOL's about a terrible movie online, but there's nothing quite like sitting with my real live daughter and laughing out loud at stupid 2012. I love discussing wine with one of my Twitter buds, but it just can't beat a sitting with my husband after a long day, sipping on a glass of Merlot. I appreciate it when friends online tell me that they're praying for me or my family when things are tough, but it can't compare to a friend holding my hand and actually sharing that load with me. Pictures and words are powerful things and they communicate far more than I ever would have imagined, but a shared experience is something that simply can't be replicated online, at least not from my perspective.

I love the movie The Matrix (even though I love it less after the next two movies came out). The real world is mostly ugly. It's dark. It's dangerous. A bunch of people have crazy plugs all over their bodies. There's a realishness to the matrix. You work, you have friends, you go to clubs. Most people are content. Some in the real world even prefer the matrix to their existence outside of it. But ultimately, it's not what they were made for.

We were made to live our lives with and for the people in them that we see on a regular basis. I'm incredibly thankful for the people that I know online. You are a treasure to me. And I'm incredibly thankful for my flesh and blood friends. You can be messy and scary and delightful and warm. My life wouldn't be complete without any of you!

Do you ever use online relationships to the exclusion of flesh and blood relationships? What can you do to show the people you interact with in the real world that they are valuable to you?
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I'm a wife to an amazing man, and mom to four incredible kids. I'm a Christian woman who sometimes struggles with doubt. I'm a musician and a writer who is sometimes afraid to play and write. I'm trying to be more authentic every day.
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