Chris asked another interesting question about this post:
One of the things that I wonder about is does online community ever degrade other communities. I’ve noticed that people tend to favour communities at a distance than ones they are actually present in. For instance if the telephone rings they will feel compelled to answer it even if they are currently with others. People also spend a lot of time online where they could be with their family. Not complaining – just observing.
Again, Chris, a great question. So let’s jump in…
Yes, online community does take away from offline community.
Let’s be real. We only have 24 hours in a day. We cannot fully concentrate our attention on two tasks at the same time. These are immovable realities that we all deal with. Some of us manage our time better. Some of us are better at appearing present when we really aren’t. Either way, time isn’t infinate and our attention has its limits.
So, understanding the limitations of time and focus, I am compelled to answer Chris’ question with a resounding, “Yes!” There is no way around it.
But, to be fair, does any one community take away from any other community – online or offline?
Yes, they do. Since people exist in at least three different communities (Fulfillment Triangle) there will always be some level of tension. There are going to be times when one community demands more time than other. Consequently, people in those other communities will feel neglected. This is a natural balancing act – family, work, and third-space – that everyone faces. It is part of life – online and offline.
There is a lot of information out there about maintaining balance, so I really won’t touch that here unless I feel I have something to add.
Chris, you asked about degredation. I think any time you are not fully present with whatever community you happen to be with at the time – whether online or offline – you can hurt people. That goes for family, co-workers, and online friends.
This is an issue, but I don’t think it is an issue of online and offline community. I think it is a life issue that we all have consider wherever we are. We just notice the online stuff more because it is new and people tend to spend lots of time with new things before they figure out how everything balances out.
Does that make sense? Thoughts?