Everything that can possibly be said about blogging and spirituality is already written on the internet somewhere.
Same goes for blogging and politics. And blogging and family. And blogging and anything, really. Blogging is like, so 2004, and analyzing blogging is so 2005, and that means I am four years too late in writing this post…which is pretty standard for how quickly I catch on to trends. At least I’ve stopped talking about the Information Super-Highway (raise your hand if you came of age in 1997).
My husband Jack is never behind on internet trends. Which is why, before starting this post, I asked him what he thought it meant to be “a spiritual person on the net.” I hoped he could give me the 2011 answer and I, for once, would have archived proof of my coolness. Take that, The Future!
Jack got really excited, as he always does when I ask him about the internet, and started speaking in engaging, witty, and fully edited paragraphs about blogging and spirituality. I hate it when he does that. He explained that everything online is instantly open to everyone else’s response, and he called this the “Rapid Feedback Cycle.” You write, you publish, and you skip the process of meditating on your own writing because you already have 36 comments on your post (or, in my case, maybe two). Contrast this with the Apostle Paul, Jack said, who sent off a letter and six months later the church in Corinth was shocked to read that their pastor did not approve of incest and adultery. Imagine if Paul had a comments section at the end of his epistles!
This Rapid Feedback Cycle (oh please tell me someone got here by googling that phrase) is what makes blogging hard for me. What can I say that won’t be criticized, debated, or objectified? Will there be space for my voice before it’s drowned out? Will my writing be my own, or will I numbly absorb the praise and criticism in my inbox? Will my readers know that there’s flesh and a heart and tears behind my words?
I keep these questions close when I blog. I write about normal things, like what I learn at Mars Hill, or the women in my church, or how many moles my Italian ancestry gave me. But before I hit “publish,” I have to acknowledge (at least to myself) that I don’t understand this internet thing. I wish I could see the faces of the people who read my blog, and ask them why they were searching for “celebrity teeth” or “restless in marriage.” I’d like to tell them that I am not very smart and they shouldn’t listen to me, but to please still give me lots of attention and continue reading my blog. It all seems so desperate and impersonal, both on my end and theirs.
And yet, relationship still happens in the rapid feedback cycle. Sometimes I feel a stranger’s humanity as if it was radiating from my laptop. Often, in the security of that private-yet-public blog space, I write words that are truer than even my best friend could coax out of me. I don’t love the rapid feedback cycle (especially now that I know it has a name), but it might be worth dealing with.
Christine is finishing her first year at Mars Hill Graduate School, in the MACP (Master’s in Counseling Psychology) program. She blogs regularly (that means once a month) at madcheshire .