John Smulo has recently commented in his blog on “virtual friendships” — people one “meets” electronically, but does not meet in the flesh. I plead guilty to referring to John Smulo as “my friend” even though I’ve only known him electronically, and haven’t known him long.
Today I was looking through some of my old hardcopy journals, and was moved to pray for an old friend I haven’t seen for over 20 years. Then I decided to do a web search for him, and found an e-mail address, and sent him a message. Maybe he won’t want to be in touch, but I think it works both ways. One can keep in touch with people electronically even though they have moved away physically. An d it works the other way too — I’ve met people electronically, and later met them in the flesh, and that has enriched our electronic conversation.
In any given physical neighbourhood, it is sometimes hard to find people with whom one shares common interests, and electronic communication makes it possible, at least theoretically, to communicate with such people unhampered by geography.
It often doesn’t work l;ike that, though. People one really wants to discuss ideas with say that they “Don’t have time for e-mail”. Old friends move away and don’t really want to keep in touch, perhaps they’ve made new friends in their new place. So electronic friendship s come and go, just like ones in the flesh. In the mean time, however, I think one learns something from all of them.