In my youth I had a pen-pal in Japan named Tashihiro. We corresponded for years, and even though we never met I considered him a friend. Sometime late in high school I inscribed a Book of Mormon for him and sent it to the missionaries in his area. To this day I recall his oh-so-polite response after they finally located him and delivered the book: “I am sorry, but I am not interested in Mormon.” We lost touch in college and now he remains but a fond memory.
Fast-forward a couple of decades and here I am, blogging and occasionally exchanging email with other participants in the Bloggernacle. It strikes me as a bit odd. Most likely nobody reading this has ever met me in person, West Hollywood not yet a center of Mormon intellectualism. When an interesting thread appears, I find myself checking in at work all day long. It’s often about more than just the topic at hand; I’m curious as to what specific people have to say. Will bbell skewer someone’s bleeding-heart liberalism? Will gst provide an award-winningly witty retort? Will Steve Evans pounce?
Let us consider the nature of the relationships which develop in the ether of the Internet. The closest analogy in my experience is that of a pen-pal. Yet sometimes I wonder if there isn’t more going on in here. My communication online with the various active Church members has touched my heart in surprising ways. Can we truly know someone we have never met in person? Can fellowship exist in the Bloggernacle?