Monday, September 26, 2011

Online presence -- real time friendship

In this day and age, we do about 75% of our communication online.

We pay our bills online.

We invite people to parties with online evites.

We send emails instead of snail mail.

We make friends all around the country and the world on social networking sites.

At CDU, where I studied Theology, the President, Dr. Marianne Mount, did her doctoral research on what it means to be present to one another online. It's fascinating to consider.

I know that over the five years I worked on completing my MA Theology, I became very close with people I will probably never meet. I continue to keep up with them online, although the majority of us are done with our studies. Something happened in that online interaction -- a common bond, called friendship.

So, when one of my best online buddies moved here to the DC area several years ago, I was thrilled to make the friendship tangible instead of virtual. Deacon Jim Pearce and I met, graduated together and then he and his wife, Melissa, became like family. We went out to dinner together, they joined our family for celebrations in our home and at our parish. They came to the school musical, and Jim served at Lainie's First Holy Communion Mass in an 8lb. Scottish kilt! That online friendship blossomed into a kinship in Christ, one that has blessed us with many, many happy memories.

Today, unfortunately, our friendship reverts back to primarily online status. Lyle and I, along with our girls, just dropped Dcn. Jim at the airport to fly back to CA. His wife, Melissa, preceded him to begin a new job teaching at a medical school. (Hooray for Melissa! -- so proud of you!) But, the saying good-bye and realizing that the connection must now become wireless again was difficult, to say the least.

When we were exclusively online friends, it was simple to think that you could easily connect again. But, once that dimension of virtual becomes real -- when the presence is tangible -- the game is changed. There is a difference between cyber-interaction and face-to-face interaction. And, I prefer the latter.

God bless you Jim & Melissa! If ever I decide to fly again, I will make sure to put CA on the top of the "to visit" list! Until then, I'll have to find enough time to make the drive! We'll miss you here in the DC area -- for real.

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