I was rather surprised, and more than a little upset, when Shelley responded angrily to Jonahon Delacours' Riding Easy in the Harness by saying, "Yes, I am too dense and foolish, too shallow to understand all this fully, But then, I am only a computer geek."
I was sure that Jonathon never intended any such message, but I was still surprised that Shelley would react this way to Jonathon's entry. My attempt to bridge the gap between Jonathon and Shelley certainly didn't help the matter, and apparently left Jonathon with the impression that I was attacking his integrity. Apparently there's something about this individual versus community debate that strikes close to home.
Both Shelley and Jonathon are interesting, unique individuals. That's precisely why I read them and why I was honored when both of them chose to link back to my site. In this virtual world of blogging, I would certainly consider both of them "virtual friends." Jonathon graciously helped me to set up this site, and I was honored when Shelley asked me if I would like to join her network when she sets it up.
In fact, I consider most of the people I link to "virtual friends." I link to each of them because they are interesting people with interesting viewpoints and interesting things to say.
I would love to spend a week hiking the Columbia Gorge with Jonathon, a week walking the Oregon Coast with Shelley, at least a week exploring Canada with Steve Laidlaw, and the same goes for virtually every one on my list. On an individual level I'm sure I would find each of them fascininating.
I suppose some could argue, then, that my list of links represents my "community." I wouldn't, though. Although I would l love to meet each and every one of them, I don't really consider them my "community." I suspect that if there was a weekly blog meeting where all of them attended that I would attend once out of curiosity, but doubt I would attend meetings regularly. That's not who I am, nor who I want to be.
Personally, I have never felt the desire to join clubs or organizations. I couldn't imagine running for office in grade school or high school. I laughed when someone suggested I join a fraternity in college.
Even when I was a Lieutenant in the Army, I didn't feel like an "Officer and a Gentleman" and hated following the rules of the "club." I didn't like attending Happy Hour or going to long formal receptions. I was good friends with a few officers, but I generally felt closer to the sergeants I worked with than I did to other officers. I could never have made the Army a career because I could never have followed a set of rules that told me who my friends could be and must be.