So today @ 7:30am was the Susan Komen Race for the Cure in St. Louis. Members of my family run this race every year as they did this year again. I have walked it a number of times so naturally we all signed up for it a couple of months ago and have anticipated the excitement of the event. It’s a walk/run of solidarity as participants walk in celebration of breast cancer survivors in their midst or in loving memory of one who lost the fight. The feeling of everyone being in this together wearing event shirts that celebrate life and support the cure is an intentional bond of community .
But there was one problem for me today. I wasn’t there. Instead, I am at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, MN taking a course. So obviously I was not able to join the community physically. Instead I planned to walk/run on my own later in the day when my class was over. Which is exactly what I did (and no doubt others do as well around the world). Since my class was focused on media (specifically social media) and Christian learning, as I set out on my walk, my head was full of thoughts regarding virtual vs. physical community. While I was physically walking, I was not in the community of people in St. Louis walking for the same cause. In a sense, my experience mimicked a virtual experience where I had the same experience as the community, only we were not physically together.
But while I walked alone like I do every other day of the week, I felt different today. There was an extra push in my stride, and extra bounce in my step. I thought about all those women in my life that I was honoring on this day. And I was thinking about the masses of other families and friends that were walking and running in St. Louis this morning and others like myself who may be walking in other parts of the world today in solidarity with those who have been touched by this disease.
So, do you think that social networking can produce this kind of virtual community that while not in physical presence, is still able to bond and build community around a common cause or theme or event where one feels part of a community? Share your own experience.