The Facebook Fast
Uber-blogger, Anne Jackson, says the web creates connection but not community.

Blogging. Facebook. Twitter. Those three things are practically my middle name. I've been called a "social media butterfly" over the last four years.

The question of "Can community happen online?" which has been the topic of conversation on this blog recently, has also been asked wherever I go. At conferences, at churches, and yes, even at the local cafe where by chance, a Facebook friend recognizes me. Sorry. I have to admit. I usually don't know who you are.

Shane Hipps has spoken. Scot McKnight has spoken. And now, it's my turn to add another view into this virtual world.

During my four years as the leader of a very thriving blog (FlowerDust.net), I've seen many incredible things happen. I've seen believers and unbelievers unite in generously donating close to $200,000 to social justice and poverty. I've seen people openly discuss taboo subjects: pornography, depression, anxiety, gay lifestyles, and theologically grey topics.

In some instances, these online conversations have translated into personal communication (by email, chats, or phone) and some have even turned into face-to-face meetings. The platforms of social media certainly give these personal interactions a "jump start" so to speak, because you do, in some regard, know bits and pieces of the other person's life.

But this is where it gets muddy for me. Is it community?

Given my experience living in both worlds, it may be surprising to hear, but I am beginning to lean on the side of no - what happens online is not community. Before you send me an army of frowning emoticons, please hear me out:

I believe what happens online is connection - not community.

People can be vulnerable and honest online. And at times these online connections can be more life-giving than many of our offline relationships, but they are not the same.

During Lent, I am going to close my blog down. I am not going to Twitter, or update my Facebook profile. I'll still email people, and chat with my friends, but for those few weeks my social networking is getting put on hold. There are a variety of reasons, of which I'll detail on my personal blog shortly, but a small part of this is a personal social experiment. I want to discover whether my online life gets in the way of my offline life. And do others' online lives get in the way of their offline lives?

I'll leave you with a couple small, hypothetical examples. Let's say my friend (who lives in Nashville with me) puts a note on Twitter about having a girls' night. I miss the invitation because of my online Lenten fast, but since most of our "group" is plugged in, everyone else gets it. I'm at home cleaning my bathrooms, unaware of this event. In this case being online would have aided my offline relationships.

February 24, 2009

Displaying 1–10 of 102 comments

Angela

June 22, 2011  3:30pm

I am not that active on facebook anymore but twitter i use sometimes and i prefer it.

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April 25, 2011  3:40am

"People can be vulnerable and honest online. And at times these online connections can be more life-giving than many of our offline relationships, but they are not the same." this is real, because we were created unique by our mighty creator

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essay

April 25, 2011  3:33am

"People can be vulnerable and honest online. And at times these online connections can be more life-giving than many of our offline relationships, but they are not the same." -true, it is because we were created unique.

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Careprost

April 21, 2011  5:03am

Thank you for sharing to us.there are many person searching about that now they will find enough resources by your post.I would like to join your blog anyway so please continue sharing with us

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Access Healthcare

January 27, 2011  5:55am

Face book is such a great plat form where you find the whole world. Its great to market your stuff and also great place for relation ship. Its one of my most favorite social site.

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January 18, 2011  7:30am

I totally agree to your point - online is connection, not community. According to many sociological studies, community is a group of interacting people that live in a common location. That's exactly what online connection is missing

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September 23, 2010  1:38am

I don't know what the fuss is, I can go without facebook for weeks. In fact forever. I hate the fact that everyone sees what you are doing instantly. Great to catch up with old friends but no when you don't have any.

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thesis

August 24, 2010  2:39am

Great informative post thanks for sharing.....

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Moshe

March 31, 2010  8:40pm

I was watching a christion station and they were talking about a facebook fast. I decided to try it for 40 days. I am on day 5 and it is not that easy. Facebook is a good site to reconnect with some people but you have to be careful with how much time you spend on it.

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February 10, 2010  1:38am

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