I have long preferred to hold my human interactions in person, where one can see the other person, hear a voice, observe nonverbal cues, etc.. I have held the belief that one creates stronger connections in person, and that the interactions are somehow better face-to-face, and that email is terribly impersonal means of communication.
Well, this theory of human interaction works great when you meet new people in person, say through a mutual friend, or at work, or at a local event, or what have you. But what if you meet someone online? Sure, you can probably arrange to meet in person at some point, but what if that’s not an option for an extended period of time? What if the person you’ve met is really far away (like 7000+ miles away, for example)? Does that connection intrinsically have less value than one made in person?
Having recently taken advantage of the vast networks of the Internet to reach out and attempt to make new connections, I must report that no, a connection made entirely online, need not be dismissed as impersonal or… I don’t know… less valuable than any other connection. Having now made no fewer than two great connections online, one of which holds no opportunity for a face-to-face meeting for several months, I found myself first surprised at the depth of connection that I had found in each new person through online communication, and later surprised that I had assumed that no (or less) depth would be found there.
We all know the folly of making assumptions, and I am quite pleased to set this assumption straight. Besides, as someone who places such value in the written word, who considers her own communication most effective when written rather than spoken, well, as such a person, I simply should have known better.
That said, I have found it very fulfilling to connect verbally with my new connections on an intellectual, philosophical, and/or emotional level. I wonder if some of my existing relationships wouldn’t benefit from the addition of more verbal communication…
Now, being a fan of the written word, I often send cards and notes to friends in the post, but, while full of tangible, emotional connection, cards and the like often fail to create an ongoing dialogue. (Those of you accustomed to receiving said cards and such needn’t worry, they will still be sent!) But perhaps there would be an added benefit to beginning an email dialogue as well, as I’ve recently discovered how well that medium works to inspire ongoing discussions.