It's been kind of an emotional roller coaster for the last few days. We've been very worried about my parents (still are), but the psych appointment went really well, and everything that's happening, while it sucks, is consistent with Alzheimer's. So this is normal deterioration. It's just really scary, because Mum doesn't recognize Dad sometimes, and can't cook, so they can't feed themselves.
So, we're working on planning for that, but wound around me worrying and running over to my parents' place and going to appointments were two really lovely playdates with Nat's friend Madeleine, a Canada Day parade of great excitement, Geoff being home for two glorious days, and then last night an emergency call from me requesting friends and alcohol. So Stuart and Cynthia came over, brought wine, rum, and ginger beer, and we had Hakka takeout, Dark and Stormys, and good friends. And then Madeleine's mum Jocelyn came over after the kids were in bed and we all stayed up late having hilarious conversation that I only dimly recall.
Yesterday there was some Facebook conversation about an Art of Manliness post about the difference between communities and networks. I'm writing through a haze of bad night for the girls, late night with wine for me, but I think they defined communities as organic, self-organizing groups that form for mutual good (more or less) and represent the whole person, and networks tend to be organized by someone at top, focused on a particular interest or skill, and more prescriptive. It all makes me think of Ursula Franklin's prescriptive versus holistic technology, but lots of things that aren't connected do. The Art of Manliness said that people who lack community can cling to networks in a sort of desperate need for community, and be deluded into thinking they are experiencing community. The post also suggested that online communities, well, aren't community.
I'm getting tired of typing that word. Anyway, I was reading the conversation that followed while in the emotional haze of Mum's appointment, and was struggling to define what I thought online community lacked. I'm a big fan of online community- without it I would be really isolated as a homeschool mom and as a SAHM, and I love the friendships I've made, but I am very very conscious of how much real life community we have, and that it's qualitatively different.
Online community necessarily lacks the physical. We are blessed to live on a street where everyone more or less knows each other, and we've made friends. There are actual block parties occasionally. My parents' church, to which we have deep ties, is a block away. We have several very good friends who constitute extra family. With all of them I am unable to edit myself the way I can online. There's a greater degree of knowledge, because we are aware not only of how we all type, but also walk, talk, what annoying gestures or habits we have. We also tend to see each other in bad moods, messy emotions. There's more of a sense of the wholeness of a person. It's a knowing with the body and senses, and it's a more complete knowledge.
I try to present myself online pretty honestly. I don't have the energy to make up a persona, and I don't like that kind of duplicity anyway, but it's still just a piece of me, no matter how many pictures I post of my fridge pre-Cynthia-organizing-it, or how many of my Random Interest Posts I put up.
I was going to make an amazing ending to this piece that drew all the parts together, but my children are getting up, and Nat wants me to help him with lego, so I'm going to leave it, and maybe revisit sometime later.