Digital Relationships Offer Real Hope

This is my first time participating in the IndieWeb carnival. Manuel Moreale is hosting this month’s theme: Digital Relationships. What I will write here is a bit cheating because I’ve already written something similar recently.

In the past two years I have recommitted to my blogging hobby. It’s been off and on for nearly twenty years now. My memory of the early days of the blogging experience is certainly rose-tinged, but that’s okay. In short, blogging was where I was able to express myself, learn about myself, work through thoughts, and connect with others who were doing the same.

Upon reflection I’ve realized that for most of my conscious life I’ve been looking to the digital for hope in this broken world. When I was in high school I wrote a research paper about the internet. I wrote about the limitless potential the internet had to bring people together. As a curious kid in a small, rural town, I instinctually craved connecting with other people out there in the world. Subconsciously I think I knew that there were a lot of “my people” out there, yet to be met.

When I was in college I took a class about finding hope. My final project talked about the hope the internet provided. It was the late nineties, and by this time bad things were already afoot on the internet. Yet I still found hope in this amazing invention that connects us instantly across oceans.

Into adulthood the internet has allowed me to have conversations with all sorts of people about my various hobbies like entertainment media, home theater, stereo systems, woodworking, baseball, and more. I’ve been in multiple online sports gaming leagues, from playing NFL 2K in real time to simulating baseball seasons with other baseball nuts via Out of the Park Baseball. All of these have had conversations and relationships around the gaming experience.

I’ve worked amongst online teams for the better part of seventeen years now. The things we were able to accomplish as a teams living across the globe – phenomenal. Most of my best friends are from these online, digital relationships. We continue today, doing video calls, playing games with chat, and meeting in person when fortune allows.

Through all of it, blogging has been a huge point of connection; of relating. In those early years a blogging community formed around the Minnesota Twins and I’m still connected with them to this day. In recent years I’m finding blogging to be as much as ever a ping-ponging-of-ideas experience. Social networks also allow us some closer-to-real-time chat opportunities, but email is as good or better for connection.

I try to imagine what my life would look like if I was stuck with only the relationships geographically close to me. I have those relationships as well, and I treasure them, but they simply cannot offer the diversity of thought, background, and experience that digital relationships allow. I’m so incredibly thankful to live in an era where I can have the best of both worlds.

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