In my last post regarding online community I brought up some questions that I will try to answer here:
Can we live in caring relationships?
I think the answer is yes. Of course we can care for each other through online community. In fact I can know things about people I would otherwise not know at all and can pray for them and do other things to help them in specific situations. Without online community I may not even be aware of their needs. There is one specific situation I can think of where my wife read one of her facebook friends status and realized this was a need to be addressed. Without having her as a friend on facebook I am not sure she would have been aware of the issue. She then rallied the troops and our church stepped up and demonstrated the love of Christ to her friend.
Can those relationships be guided by biblical truth?
I think so for sure.
Can those relationships be rooted in spiritual accountability?
This is certainly possible, but I think more difficult online. Here is where I think seeing someones facial expressions, hearing their tone, and observing there body language is missed. Again it comes down to authenticity, but I think something is lost in online communication.
Is life change occurring in the unity and diversity of authentic relationships?
Online community certainly allows for great diversity in relationships. I can connect with friends that are all over the world because of online tools.
While I think all of these things are possible I do think there are certain relational elements that are not possible online. Certainly online community allows me to connect with more people, people I would probably not otherwise connect with, but is there genuine community with people I do not already have a face to face connection with? Online tools can certainly assist in relationships, but can they or should they replace them?