If modern technology brought us together in easy travel, telephones, and regular postal services, the pendulum swung back the other way, and life today can be kind of isolating. Schooling and careers take us across the country and out of the care of our hometown friends, homeschooling moms can get resources right off the internet, and working people go straight from the gym to the office and back home again.
Outside of extra curricular activities, if you have kids that like those sorts of things or the presence of mind and time to get involved yourself, and maybe Mass a few times a week, the social forum isn't what it used to be. It wasn't like when people went to market every morning to purchase food for the day's meals or, even farther back, out to the fields to grow and harvest that food. Women gathered around the well to exchange stories and advice, and people made parties out of their work--everything was done as a community.
My little parish was built in the 1800's, which is old in American chronology. The small town evolved as a Catholic-saturated community because the founder only sold land to Catholics. After a sojourn in the west when he was lost, he prayed to Saint Anthony that if he found his way, he'd dedicate an entire community to him. They say that to build the church, certain skilled families quit work, and the other townspeople came together to support them during that time.
We don't have that any more, the after Mass Sunday get-togethers and village weddings. Blogging has kind of risen up in that absence to be the forum of connectedness that we're missing among niche groups: Catholics, mothers, writers, artists, homeschoolers, book-lovers, foodies. . .
What stands out strongest in my past year of blogging is the relationships I've made, and the impression that stands out is of a sense of connecting, understanding, and support. Even when I'm just reading someone else's musings or venting of a bad day on the electric screen, and that person has no idea of my existence, it fills a need of human nature. We're social beings, mostly, even those of us who are shy and/or agoraphobic. We instinctively try to connect to other people in some way, even if it's just to type our thoughts out and e-publish them into the void.
I hope it doesn't entirely replace the coming together in the physical realm, the being in the company of another human being. But in the absence of the ability to pop out of the house and head round the corner to the village forum, blogging is a pretty satisfying substitute.