I actually meant to post this last week, as it was fresh in my mind, but I got distracted. Pfft.
Anyway, last Sunday morning, as you do, I was watching the Heaven & Earth show. It's quite good, as religious programming goes. Anyway, there was a feature on the show about online churches. There are quite a number in Second Life, and they appear to be quite popular. There are also a number of online religious communities spread around the country. After the feature was shown there was a discussion with the studio guests, Nina Myskow, GP Taylor and some other bloke whose name I have completely forgotten.
Two of the people, unnamed man and Ms Myskow were really quite scathing about the use of internet forums and so on. Which got me thinking. I've been using discussion boards and forums for a good 5 to 6 years now and for the most part, it's been a hugely positive experience. I have met people who I now consider to be my closest friends. They have been there to support me during the bad times, celebrate during the good times and give me an alternative perspective when it's needed. Without that, I'd be a much lesser human being than I am today. I have grown in confidence (though, yes, that is quite fragile) and have expanded my horizons much more than I would had I not met them.
However, outstripping all of that has been the opportunities for so much fun and laughter. Which, frankly, makes life worth living.
To dismiss all of that with an airy wave of one's hand and wittering that people like me are sad and pathetic is to completely miss the point of all this. And strangely enough, it was the ex-vicar (GP Taylor) who was most in favour of online communities. Though thinking about it, perhaps with his background he can actually see the benefits rather than looking at the pitfalls.