What is real? Here on the Internet, we speak with pixels and megabytes, we have virtual words for virtual friends in a virtual world. You can carry on this way, cloaked in virtual anonymity. When do the pixels become more? When do the words gather together, become more than fonts and html and form a body? At what point do we online entities become….real?
I know, of course, that there are people behind the words. Each of you is out there in three dimensions, fingers flying on the keyboard just like mine are at this moment. But there is a disconnect where the Internet is concerned, a gap that can easily be kept so that there is a safe distance between each of our worlds, between us and our words.
Or it can be bridged.
What makes us real? Is it found in the comment box, where you leave your thoughts and share your hearts? Is it when we reach out and type those words, yes, I hear your heart…your words speak to my reality, to my life too. Or does real require taking it one step further? Are we finally real to one another when we pick up the phone, connect a voice to those words and pixels? Perhaps we are not real until we meet in person…until we shake the hands that fly over keyboard keys, feel the crush and warmth of flesh in a long anticipated embrace.
It’s funny, you know. Some of my best friends, I have never met. Some souls that are so precious to me, I’ve never spoken to. Some people who have changed my life, I’ve never embraced.
What makes us real?
I think, in the end, it’s not the actual moment of taking things beyond the screen. As much as I have loved emailing with dear friends, as much of a gift it has been to have spoken on the phone with other bloggers and as much as I do long to meet each of you (and have come oh so very close at times) I think it’s not the meeting that makes us real.
I think we become real when our words change things, when they take root in another’s heart and cause something new to grow. We become real when we make a real difference, however small it is. We become real when we cause real change in human souls and in society…through our words, through our honesty, through our humanness and brokenness. Pixels and fonts and html come to life in the real difference they make in the lives of others. We may never know this side of heaven what difference we’ve made. I feel confident, in fact, that we will never know until the day we’re able to look back on all of this and see clearly the path of our lives, the seeds sown that grew on soil we never walked on, never even saw.
Are we real? Your words have made a real difference in my life. They have evoked real change, real reflection, real soul-searching. They have caused me to take real action, to change my life and to do my best to change the lives of others for the better, too. I have taken, from this virtual world, real treasures that have enriched, changed, and blessed my life.
You are real. The Spirit moves through the Word and the Word is real, the Word became flesh and moved through us all and yes, we are real. The same Spirit that hovered over the waters in the beginning of all time hovers now over us, connects us, moves through our words. We know, in our hearts, that what is real does not always need to be seen, to be touched. What is real bears real fruit. I look around this community of real people and see the fruit ripe on the vine, the harvest growing every day. And I am thankful for the real blessing of it.