One of the largest tags in my tag cloud is “community.” Whether it’s religious community, neighborhood community, or the human community, I’m interested in how it works, and how to make it better.
In this New York Times op-ed, Charles Blow talks about ways social networking can be harmful to real-life communities. I agree with him. Facebook can be like eating a Twinkie and thinking you’ve had lunch.
But I also think that social networking is like any other tool. What matters is how you use it.
If I use Facebook as a substitute for real-world church attendance, then I’m probably not getting all the religious-community nutrients I need. But if connecting with fellow church members on Facebook deepens my relationship with them, then that enriches my participation in the real-world religious community.
A few weeks ago a Girdwood resident posted an event invitation on Facebook, an opportunity for people to help assemble greenhouses for Sustainable Girdwood. I replied that I planned to attend, and Facebook’s reminders ensured that I actually showed up last Saturday for greenhouse assembly. Attending that event helped me connect with several new people, neighbors whose names I remember because I am now their Facebook friends.