Today I am reminded how the internet has changed my life, and I am so grateful for the community I have there.
This is not to say that I live my life in chat rooms and fail to connect outside that realm. But it is to say that I learn so much from my friends.
Today the conversation that struck me was about raising our children to be safe from predators without teaching them to fear.
A few days ago it was about adoption of HIV+ children.
A few days before it was about worship leadership, how we choose what we do in worship, and the benefits to the church of each option.
On facebook I find articles to read, stories to consider, lessons for my own spiritual direction, and topics I would never address if they didn't show up in my news feed.
By reading blogs and sharing with fellow bloggers, I have made friends across the country. Genuine friends. Friends I travel to foreign countries with. Friends I confide in. Long-lost friends reunited over a screen.
About children today, a friend commented that it's difficult to teach her preschooler about strangers when nearly every adult she meets knows what she did last week and has seen her picture countless times because of facebook. How do you help a child understand who is "safe" and who isn't? My two year old nephew likes to "see" people on the computer already (Skype). By the time he is old enough to function online independently, the concept of "stranger" may be entirely gone from our vocabulary. Teaching our children to be safe is a different conversation than it was when I was a child. The idea of "never take candy from a stranger" or "never get in a car with a stranger" wasn't a likely scenario then, but it's even less so now. Our kids are more at-risk online than anywhere else, I'd suspect. While these are latent thoughts I'd had in the past, I had never linked it to the fear and response tactics that went into raising me.
I never would have considered it if it hadn't been that a friend 650 miles away read an article that she posted on her page. I am a better parent, a better minister, a better friend, and a better person because of the experiences of others around the world who share online.
Thank you for sharing your lives publicly.
Hopefully my life will be intentional - both online and off - because you have taught me.