Two interesting responses to yesterday’s post on “The Value of Paying Attention”.

Tress observes in relationship to activity in the Comments Section of “In A Spacious Place” (IASP):

lately I have been wondering if , as these added opinions and endorsements seem less common, they are less acceptable.

Perhaps it was not the purpose of your blog, but along with your excellent and often enlightening thoughts on many subjects, there came a sense of the community, that is the important structure of your life.

I wonder if Tress has identified one of the potential limitations inherent in social media. She is right the lively interchange of ideas that has, at times taken place in the Comments section of IASP has declined in recent months. The sense of “community” that emerged in response to this interchange of ideas has diminished.

Could it be that one of the limitations in the “relationships” built through social media is that they are simply too easy to abandon? Little commitment is required to leave a comment on a blog and there is no cost to abandoning the practice of entering into the exchange of ideas that takes place in the comment section of a blog.

In the blog world I do not actually have to pay attention. I do not have to consider your feelings, or attend to your reactions. I can just walk away, turn off my computer, stop reading. I do not even have to say goodbye.

It is at least worth asking how much real communication/communion between human beings is possible where so little commitment is required.

Bruce Bryant-Scott attempts in his comment on yesterday’s post to redeem the function of a blog by suggesting certain values that he argues are inherent  in the exercise of writing.

I would argue that writing allows us to do things we could not do orally – permanence, portability, clarity (all those ums and aws disappear), and potential for critical dialogue of a sort that often gets missed in oral speech. Also, do not some technologies allow us to have enhanced abilities – such as communicating to thousands, conversing (as I did this morning) with someone in Austria, and creating an online personae?

Bruce is certainly correct that writing gives time to think and formulate a reply before needing to go public with the content of the thought.

It is probably true in some ways in my own practice of blogging that I am able to be more honest, authentic, and genuine in my blog posts than I sometimes am in person. There is a certain safety to being able to think out and refine what I want to say before submitting it to public scrutiny that helps me be more forthright and transparent than I might often be in normal public interchange.

However, again, I wonder if this communication from behind the safety of the written word is really an authentic form of human interaction. I wonder if real human communion can happen when I can’t see the look on your face and feel the inevitable vulnerability that accrues to being in your actual presence.

There is a quality of protectiveness sitting here in the safety of my study early in the morning with no human beings actually around, that creates a certain artificiality in any efforts to truly meet another person.

I worry at times that all the blogging in the world really is nothing much more than entertainment for the reader and a pathetic need to be seen and acknowledged by the writer. This is hardly the ground in which authentic human relating can take root and prosper.