The Digital Revolution and Imperfect Intimacy

One of the concerns I often hear when talking about digital tools and faith formation is that it’s impossible to form relationships online. I this this is a false assumption with a grain of truth — in fact, I think the internet can form and strengthen relationships in two ways.

First, new media helps connect people who may never have an opportunity to meet face-to-face. My own experience on Twitter and blogs has led me to connect with dozens (maybe more) of catechists and catechetical leaders from all over the world. The insights, resources, and support I have received from them — and I hope returned — have been invaluable to my work and ministry.

Second, new media helps us to strengthen existing relationships by connecting us to our friends and family even when they are physically removed. Stefana Broadbent offers some examples in the video above; personally, I love the story of the family who uses online video to have dinner with family members on the other side of the world!

Of course, neither of these types of connections are as intimate or strong as true face-to-face interactions. But in an increasingly mobile world they are better than being completely disconnected. (I recently heard someone say that we may be entering an era when we no longer have “former friends” — just people we moved away from and now connect with online!) Managing these new forms of relationships will be tricky, but they demonstrate the power of new media to form and strengthen relationships, even if they don’t reach the “more perfect” types of face-to-face relationships we need in our lives.