Family and friends out there in a circle

Ribeira BravaAfter spinning class tonight with my wife and a couple of friends I found myself casting about for something on which to blog, lest I forget how to blog after going too long without. (Not that it’s all that complicated, really. Look at the hideous numbers of us doing it.) The mind finally drifted around to how fortunate I was to be able to “chat” with my son the other day, a young Peace Corps volunteer so far away in the Republic of Cape Verde, courtesy of a couple of free Facebook accounts and a little Internet cafe on an island west of Africa. How simple it was to track down within seconds the e-mail address of a professional contact with whom I had lost touch. He’s a professor in Toronto and I asked him for some ideas on strategic communication. Several other colleagues from the past were easily found on LinkedIn and obliged me by providing glowing recommendations for a job search.

The old word “community” has become almost meaningless without modifiers — even “online community” is too general to be useful and “community of interest” too formal and awkward. “Virtual community” doesn’t cut it, either, as my circle of friends, acquaintances and colleagues is every bit as real as the chair on which I am sitting and the music I hear coming from the speakers on my library desk this evening. What does it matter if we sometimes communicate by Internet?

Maybe “circle” will work. I have my circle, with connecting spokes that change in nature now and then. I have my people, and they have me. The medium that holds us together holds little meaning.

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