On the control panel at the left side of this web site, you’ll see a section titled “Resources”, and under that a clickable entry titled “kindred souls (links to other blogs)”.
I had the day off from work yesterday, and I spent much of it redoing that page — remaking it into the sort of blog directory that I always wanted to see on everybody else’s site, back when I first began looking at the blog world.
I looked again at each of my favorite bloggers’ and web-journallers’ sites, and wrote a little paragraph to characterize who they are and what they do as best I could. (All those paragraphs will be subject to future revision as I get to know these wonderful people better.) I added links to some of my favorite individual postings on many of the sites.
I also found photos of as many of the authors as I could — sometimes on their sites and sometimes elsewhere, sometimes very elsewhere — and I placed those photos next to their names.
The photos were particularly magical. Quakers don’t look quite like other sorts of people — at least, to my eyes. The genuineness of their smiles, the glows in their eyes, the comfort with which they wear their whole bodies, does something to me. As I added their photos to my humble directory, the whole page seemed to take on a bit of their collective genuineness and glow and comfort. And the bare list of links I’d started with that morning began turning into a portrait of a community.
You know, it’s surprisingly hard to get to know people on line. You can trade letters and comments with them for years, and still, important details of their lives won’t necessarily get mentioned. You may never learn what they do for a living, or how they feel about it, or what little off-work passions they have, or what they’re struggling with personally, unless they themselves choose to bring those things out. It’s very different in that way from a good physical neighborhood, where such things tend to come out in the wash whether the other person wants them known or not.
Closeness is especially hard on line. One can so easily mistake a person’s tone of voice, and be alienated by what was meant kindly — but one cannot be so easily surprised and won over by a loving tone of voice one wasn’t looking for. I think one has to live close to the charity in one’s own heart, in order to have any sort of community at all with others on line. And that’s not the fault of the other people; it’s just the weakness of the medium.
Nonetheless, as my descriptions of my favorite journals and blogs and their authors began coming together — and particularly as I found photos and added them in — I began to think, “I am beginning to know these people as people. I like them as people. If I walked into a meetinghouse and found all of them sitting on the benches, I’d feel right at home.”
It was a good feeling.