Penned in a scrupulous hand, a snailmail note arrived today accompanied by a photocopy of an article from The Economist about Catholic Church finances. The note was signed, "An admiring reader of your blog" and was postmarked in Nashua, N.H.
I had read the article -- a murky and at some points necessarily speculative piece -- but was delighted to think that someone with an actual-factual hand had taken the actual-factual trouble. Imagine that!
Public discussion of the Internet generally includes some mention of the "connecting" quality it has. But my underlying assumptions run more along the lines of the Internet's ability to separate or distance people from each other. Nobody bleeds or roars with laughter on the Internet... everything keeps a sanitized and unfulfilling distance.
When I write on the blog, for example, I feel as if I were back working for the newspaper, a place where writing an article seldom had any known effects ... you just sent the article to the typesetter, the paper got printed and then ... and then ... and then, nothing. It was like dropping a bottled message in the middle of the Atlantic.
The few flesh-and-blood connections I have made on account of the Internet are always a pleasant surprise. How nice to meet someone face to face -- even in something as distant as an anonymous, hand-written note.
Whadya know?! How nice! I'll have to watch my P's and Q's I guess.