Connection vs. Community

At a discussion I attended earlier this week, someone said that ritual can only be analog. It’s possible to share certain kinds of connections and experiences digitally, but ritual has to be enacted and experienced in person.

It’s the difference between watching a cooking show and making dinner night after night. Both can be shared experiences, but they’re categorically different.

As the speaker went on to point out, however, the magic of the Internet is that it allows us to find the others with whom we share real-life bonds. It’s never been easier to find and build community.

But what we think of as community seems to want to happen offline. There’s an important difference between being on the same discussion board as your people and being at the same conventions, sporting events, dinner tables, or whatever other physical spaces hold the bonding rituals by which we recognize each other.

Get out there and get connected by all means. But then do the real, meaningful, rewarding work of building community.