The decline of online conversation
A few years ago when I started blogging and joined the emerging church conversation interacting online was the only option. Aside from Jordon Cooper, who could probably be credited with enlightening me to the conversation, there wasn’t anybody local talking about this stuff. Eventually that changed and now I find myself having similar discussions with established church leaders. As my local connections grew the need to interact on the blogs and over IM/Skype has declined.
I was talking on the phone with a prominent emerging church Aussie blogger last night. We were both reflecting on how little we post and interact online. For him the local connections in many ways supplanted the online ones. More and more I find people would rather call or Skype. With my VOIP line it costs as much to call Australia as it does to call the town down the road so why not?
Very few people comment on my blog. There are few comment wars and they don’t last as long. Since I got married I’ve had less time and impulse to post. When I’ve been involved in house church I was less interested in discussion and more interested in seeing if any of these theories could be tranlated in to reality. After a few years of relatively positive church experiences a lot of the “detox” is done and there isn’t the impulse to vent online.
I’ve overestimated the power of the collaboration on the Internet in the past. There are inherent weaknesses to blogging. We often get trapped in futile verbal conflict in a medium where it is difficult to emotionally connect with people on the other side of an issue. Add to this the abrasive trolls, the anonymous stalwart defenders of a particular brand of Christian orthodoxy, and the flame outs. We haven’t found the best vehicle for fruitful discussion online.
Blogging is really good for keeping in touch with people you care about. I’ve got some really cool friends because of blogging. I still enjoy it but I’m much less concerned with it, and the traffic and the technorati ranking etc… Watching my profile drop in the blogosphere has been a healthy thing. Sometimes we can trick ourselves in to thinking we are making a difference by measuring frivolous things like how many people link to our blog.