Sometimes I think we get so addicted to blogging because it can be a taste of the kingdom of heaven. It can be a place where the best of our spirits meet with the best of kindred spirits across space and time. We learn from each other and support each other.
Sometimes blogs can be a taste of hell. I have been on blogs where horrible things are written and people are ganged up on and ridiculed in a vile way. I remember going on an emergent blog after pastor Mark Driscoll wrote his inflammatory blog about pastors' wives causing their husbands to stray by "letting themselves go" physically (with no mention that women are more than their looks) and about the need for male pastors "to stay away" from forward women who might "throw themselves" at the pastors. I was stunned that a 35 year old pastor (young!!) connected with what was once called an emergent church (I didn't realize that Driscoll had actually already disavowed emergent) would hold such a one-dimensional and fear-filled view of women. However, on the emergent church blog I went to for comfort, the males were jeering at the women who were upset by calling them "hairy armpit feminists." ... It was not a happy occasion for me. But then, stumbling around for support, I ended up at Scot McKnight's blog, which is a taste of heaven because it is a place of civility, compassion and intelligent discourse.
I struggle with the balance between cyber life and real life. Since the Driscoll affair, which took place at the end of 2006, I have entered blogdom, something I had deliberately avoided until then. I felt I needed to speak out about Driscoll, and then I became so taken with Scot's blog that I became a regular. It's been a way to "meet" wonderful people, enter a rich community and learn. I wouldn't trade it. Starting my own blog last spring has also been much more rewarding than I expected, because of entering into community and making new cyber-friends. I treasure the opportunity to be in conversation with people from all over the world and I treasure the kindness people have shown me.
However, my cyber-friend Regina is leaving blogdom and while that makes me sad, I can also understand why people do. I don't know exactly why Regina has made this decision, but I do see the dark side of blogging--and the Internet in general. I can get so absorbed in cyberspace that I am not present to my family or friends or to my physical environment. My son Will tells me that I can get "hypnotized" by the computer. And he's right. At times it can be as bad as any addictive drug. I can be as "out of it "in terms of my physical environment as any stoned heroin addict. The house can be covered in dust and clutter, my kids can be trying to talk to me, the cat can be meowing for dinner and I can be ... blogging. Fortunately, I don't do this all the time! And fortunately I am aware enough of my tendencies that I am intentional about carving out blocks on non-computer time. On the other hand, I will find myself going on the computer because I'm tired and the rest of the family ... is on the computer! They are playing computer games, surfing the web, checking out YouTube ... you name it. Or they're watching a DVD in the basement on the projector.
I found it liberating not to have Internet access at the house the first few weeks we were in Barnesville. It gave me time and space to focus on doing other things. It inspired our teenagers to suggest playing board games together. It was good. Sometimes I think I would like not to use the computer at home at all or even have a computer or any technology more advanced than a radio. However, I also realize that would be throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water.
I realize that cyberspace connections are important, and I cherish them. The struggle is to maintain a balance. So I'm curious about how other people cope with the "heaven and hell" aspects of this medium.