I live my life as a nomad. We move every few years and I have to start all over. A new church, a new school, new neighbors and coworkers to get to know. A new doctor and dentist, grocer and tea house.
I leave behind friends and old acquaintances that all made a place seem like home. I leave behind the connections that make me feel like I matter in this world and someone sees me. Ten years ago, I would have had to call a lot or send a lot of letters (emails for some) in order to maintain the connection as I build new ones in my new place.
With the internet, new options and new ways to stay connected have arrived. While my best friend of 20 years may not be able to come clean the kitchen after my being too sick for 4 days or pick up the kids from school because I am in an appointment, she can give me comfort over a webcam with a mutual cup of tea. We can each make the same kind, buy the same cookie (my crack cookie is Thanks A Lot by Girl Scouts) and then share in those same scents and tastes even as we look at each other with our hair mussed and pj’s on. There is a comfort found.
There is also a connection that makes the loneliness at night far less distressing. At 3 am, I can hardly pick up the phone to call someone to see if they are awake- but I can glance at a screen and see they are on and active- and we can chat away, waking no one else.
My children can share an art project or an A paper with grandma on the other coast through a simple text or scan and when I have forgotten a birthday, I can create a lovely personal card and send in moments. I can even lend my latest ebook to a friend to read and share comments online with.
As a seminarian, there is even more. I am a student online, completing my Master of Divinity at Luther Seminary almost completely through the Internet and local congregational work. I get to know my classmates through chats and conferences, facebook and even a rousing round of word games that spans space and time. In the book, Click2Save, the authors note, “It’s about how you connect in meaningful, personal ways with people across diverse networks.”
For all the lack of connection, there is a greater one being made- a fine but sturdy thread of connectivity that allows me to grow my faith, to share with others, to build community that is bigger than my human body can ever dream of creating with its physical limitations. It is a new way to see the Holy Spirit at work, the thread of life that connects us all, glistening in the sun, showing us, that no matter how alone I may feel in my worst moments, I am not. You are there- my community of faith, of love, of friendship. And through that, my new community will be built too- the one that does drop off dinner after surgery or take you Black Friday Shopping. One does not preclude the other, instead, if we let them, they balance and compliment each other.
That is the good side of experience through connectivity. It is the hope that shines through- that proves that no matter how lonely and disconnected the Internet may seem, it is still community with great value, just in a new currency.
Learn more about Click2Save by Elizabeth Drescher and Keith Anderson, 2012.