Sunday, September 15, 2013

On friends, real and electronic

In the past few months, while I haven't been writing a whole lot of blog posts, I have certainly done my fair share of reading blog posts.  I have a dozen or so blogs - mostly written by Catholic mothers - that I check often, most on a daily basis.

I sometimes have to stop and ask myself if it's weird or OK that I know more about the daily lives of random writers who live around the country than I do about some of my own close friends and family.  It's one of the challenges of living in this electronic age, and I think, and something we all struggle with to some extent - how much to share on much to read on much screen time is acceptable for our children, and for ourselves.

In moments of frustration at myself, I've taken an "all or nothing" approach, thinking that I should cut off all time online (rather than a more moderate - but somehow more difficult - approach of perpetually seeking a balance).  There is something compelling enough that makes us come back to Facebook, email, and blogs - and I think it is something good.  Granted, an online connection is absolutely never as good as - nor should it be replacement for - an actual "real-life" relationship, but in a world where we seldom live close by to all - or, in some cases even some - of the people we really want to be near, an online community can be a valuable addition to the connections we otherwise maintain with friends and family.  

I came to the realization about the good that can come from online connections this week because my worlds (real and electronic) collided when one of my favorite bloggers came to stay at our house while she was in town to give presentations at our church.   Meg Hunter-Kilmer is a Catholic blogger and self-described "hobo for Christ" who travels the country speaking to youth groups and church groups and  random people who come up to her when she's wearing her "I'm Catholic - ask me a question" T-shirt.  I've read her blog for a while (as you absolutely should also go do! - find it HERE) and while we kept joking about me being a crazy fan meeting a celebrity, the reality was that we became fast friends who stayed up until 3 AM alternating between having really awesome conversations about faith and trying not to wake up Anna with our laughter at the kinds of things (platypus farming?) that you could only happen upon in conversation at that time of day.

I thrive on relationships where I'm able to commiserate - good or bad - and connect and share about our common experiences.  God put us all together on Earth to share the beauty of this world, but ultimately to support each other as we grow in holiness. Talking to friends or reading about women in similar situations can be a huge comfort to me - on good days and on bad.  An online community - while based on an impersonal technology - is still ultimately a human community.  As my time with Meg showed me, the people behind the computers are real people.  (I mean, I obviously knew before that was not a robot, but you know what I mean....)  Conversations in person are richer and better than emails or blog posts could ever convey, but when distance is involved, those online connections are better than nothing!

One of the things that has been most challenging for me in the online community is the apparent imbalance.  I started this blog to stay connected to friends and family, but as I write, you end up knowing far more about our current life (and the color of our walls and where we've hung our pictures) than I know about yours.  And I read blogs written by people to whom I am essentially an anonymous number.  My new-found interest in writing more on the blog is part of an effort to be more a participant than an observer in the online community that has given me strength.  I hope that in some way, I may provide a little bit of the encouragement I've received from reading other blogs to someone who happens upon mine.  And, I hope that as you read and keep up with our lives (and my musings), you'll consider it an invitation to communicate back with us (even just with a quick blog comment - if you forget (or never knew) how to post one, see this tutorial:  How to Post Blog Comments.


  1. So glad to be your real and electronic friend! Also, I think I stole your lip gloss. I pulled it out of my bag today and was very confused by the shape and label. Then I pulled mine out, too. And Anna succeeded in secreting one of her toys in my bag....

    1. So basically I'm not a serial killer but I might be a little bit of a klepto.

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