Thursday, April 4, 2013

Internet Interruptus

Today is the second day I have been without direct internet access owing to some sort of problem on the Bell network. Yesterday I was in the midst of writing my daily post when it went out, and I later went down to my local library to upload it. Similarly, this morning I was at a grocery store with free Wi-fi where I checked my email and uploaded a comment on yesterday's post.

While my topic today is unlikely to offer any profound insights, I do want to write about the nature of community. Like many, I have long denigrated the notion of any real community existing in the virtual world. Facebook, for example, abounds with the trivial or egocentric (worst sleep ever last night), the treacly (if you love your mother, even if she is no longer here, share this), and the inane (click on this to see the funniest cat video ever); as well, the depth of friendships on that platform tends, in my experience, to be at the shallow end of the pool.

That is why I was a bit surprised to discover yesterday how much I missed my 'community' of fellow-bloggers whom I read regularly. Unlike when we go on vacation and have little or no internet access, during which time the suspension of contact with the larger world is a nice respite, this current unanticipated disruption of that contact has been unsettling, to say the least. While I have always felt a certain affinity with those I read and those who post comments on my blog, it wasn't until yesterday that I realized what a significant part of my life they occupy.

I suspect there are several reasons for this, one of the most compelling being that I am comforted in the knowledge that there are many people involved in blogs and Internet organizations who have both political awareness and passion, knowledge that is heartening given its frequent absence in the general population. As well, I am often led to new facts and perspectives through these people, who take me well beyond the usual newspapers and journals that I read for information.

Related, I suspect, is the same affinity that any community feels that arises from shared values. That is not to say that I read only those who reinforce my worldview and that I am closed to new ideas; rather I read those whose minds and sensibilities I respect, people who by and large do not fall into the frequent right-wing trap of name-calling, ad hominems, and shrill base emotionalism. Indeed, even when we do not agree, I respect the difference in perspectives because I respect their minds and character as revealed in their writing.

I don't see anything superficial or unreal about these virtual relationships. Although it is unlikely that I will ever meet these people 'in the flesh,' I feel a definite kinship with them. And I guess, when all is said and done, that is the most important basis of community.


  1. Its funny you write this. In the last little while a number of bloggers I admire have taken time off, some announced, some not, and I have been thinking about the fact that I miss people I have never met.

    It seems like a good thing to have an understanding of and a fondness for people from all over the world in this way. Expands our horizons somewhat.

    I hope your internet is restored soon. I miss you when you are away.

  2. Thanks, Karen. You were one of the people I had in mind when I wrote this post.

    1. This is a very thoughtful post and I can relate to it so very much.

      I am still involved with discussion forums that are dying far too quickly for my liking because I consider the long standing participants as friends. In many instances, I have actually met those participants in the flesh on multiple occasions which only underscores how powerful and meaningful these connections in the ether world can be.

      Facebook is a useful tool for keeping tabs on relationships although their algorithms are such that you only get a sampling of what is going on in their lives. Forums and blogs are far more direct so I still greatly appreciate such an interface.

      Anyway, I do try to keep in touch or on top of regular entries. If I don't comment, it's just that so many others have already said what I might offer.

    2. Thanks for your comments, Beijing. It is always good to hear from you.