I’ve been told that when it comes to discussion, internet discussion (e.g. facebook or blogs) is better in some ways than face-to-face; more appropriate for mediating an intellectual disagreement anyway. In a sense that’s right – it is easier to assess an argument, or at least to be hyper-critically skeptical about it, when you have time to think and come back to it and such.
But (as you all probably know – I just thought I’d spell out some reasons, largely for my own interest) there are good reasons to prefer actual real life conversation. When it comes to discussing something like Christianity, even more so – authentically communicating Christian faith is about sharing life together, not just sharing arguments or ideas. I’m no anti-intellectual emotivist psychologically manipulative preacher* – the ideas matter hugely, they just don’t stand alone – and I’m not an outgoing extroverted popular crowd surfing über-talker (some people will say everything that they think about everything as soon as they get a chance – I am not one of these, generally preferring to contribute only when I’ve actually thought seriously about the item of conversation) – in fact, I don’t particularly excel in or necessarily enjoy group discussions unless I feel that I’m leading it or have some control or the participants are particularly like-minded (call me insecure) – it’s just that I think that for all its potential awkwardness and notwithstanding the sad fact that wit may be harder to come by off-the-cuff, for real engagement, real life is preferable. The usefulness of body language and the ability to clarify specific things and avoid making people uncomfortable are some examples of reasons for this.
But, I still spend lots of time in discussions on Facebook. It’s not just that I’m a geeky procrastinator; while that’s a major part of it I also think it’s important that truth be hashed out wherever and whenever people are comfortable doing that. For some, that’s the internet – I guess that’s why some of you are reading this blog…
So, let me know what you think; in real life even!
*I’m just a softly spoken but earnest pseudo-intellectual occasional preacher