The Gathering Place

Intro_bannerIn our twenty-first century world, people connect as much over text and Facebook messages as face-to-face, or even phone calls. Even email has become “last decade”. But whatever the technological caliber our society as ascended to, one thing has not changed: our need to connect intimately. But often times, this happens only when we let it happen. Facebook has become a quick update place, and forum boards lack the kind of open-ended relational purpose a person longs for in discussion.

But could there be a place online where people can gather together, with quiet, secure rooms for more sensitive discussion, while having a lobby with more general? The difficulty here is these kinds of websites usually don’t catch in the way certain social media giants of the past have. Friendster, Myspace, Facebook, ICQ, have all connected people in ways other internet tools never could. They made communication easy. This is great, but there are topics (and levels of intimacy) that won’t naturally be hit in these atmospheres.

 

The tendency is to reserve these kinds of discussions for over-the-phone or face-to-face discussion. But there may actually be some benefits to putting a virtual gathering site online.

  • Ease of Access

 

It has been my experience that going out to interact with good friends is important, but I have actually just been wiped out after a long day of work, and don’t have the energy to change clothes, and shift into social mode physically. A place to meet virtually would remove the intimidating commute, without losing the same level of connection.

 

  • On-Going

One of the beautiful things about forum threads is they stay where they are put.  Of course, that certainly may not be ideal for some discussions, and should be backed up locally, but for many, there is a place to pick up a previous discussion.

 

There has been a recognized trend these days to do more moving then in generations passed. It has been called “Urbanization”. It proposes that more people are moving into cities than ever before. While this appears to be very exciting, it actually seems to have had the opposite effect. People are not “geographically closer together, but socially further apart. It takes something external to bind us into any kind of relationship, but work, for example, tends to be an external requirement more then a joy anymore. The tendency towards what returning to what happens outside of work is much more clear: Television, Video games, or externally structured events like a church youth group or Bible study group. But in all of these situations, there is not really the kind of openness for any great level of intimacy between people. The “informal” moments have to be “caught” intentionally. What if there were a place where people could gather for just these “informal relational moments, from the convenience of a web browser?

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As a means of keeping this place safe, only those who have entered into the Lobby will know who is specifically present. Certain terms will have to be agreed to in order to keep people safe.

Once in the Lobby, people will be able jump right into conversation with people who have real faces next to their text! There would be no automated responses, but communication ought to come from real people. Certain individuals would need to be present to moderate the general structure of the lobby.

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Those in the Lobby would be able to connect with several individuals for more intimate conversation. They would disappear from the roster on the Front entrance completely, and only their corner would be acknowledged in the Lobby. These kinds of conversations require a large amount of trust to bear the deep information of life. The greatest of online security would be utilized here to ensure that people are protected, and feel safe.

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There is a intrinsic need in our lives to “bear our souls”. There is now no reason not to be releasing those things on your heart and be free of the pressure.

Relational Gravitation

Daughter

Daughter

People who rely on others are going to find themselves in a state of limbo at one point or another.  This is because people are unpredictable, and people need solid foundations to hold them in balance or “orbit”.

 

Strong Relation

Relating to another means finding familiarity with them, and being able to see things from their perspective.  It means communication comes easily, and intimacy takes the path of least resistance.  Of course, this sounds wonderful, but if there is no solid bedrock of granite to hold the two up, the very force of gravity will pull upon them.  As soon as one partner weakens, the other must harden to counter-balance.  But that puts undo pressure on the other individual.  Pressure can only hold before something finally gives.  Relationships must not be more than a give and take.  They must have a fulcrum, a focal point from which they orbit.  They need to jointly commit to something larger then themselves.  This “fixed point” needs to be able to endure their natural lives.

Greater intimacy, Greater emotion

When strong relationship is developed, a strong internal bond is made, which may or may not be noticed until it is stressed or ultimately severed.  If the bond was deep enough, its breaking could shatter a person, and have indirect implications on those in strong relationship with that person’s life.  Perhaps grief is only felt when there is a tremendous bond that has been made, and only the loss of that relationally-connected partner can awaken a gaping hole that was previously filled.  What does it mean to never experience grief?  How can one really understand the highs in life if he never witnesses how low life can really plunge?  It is the story of humanity.  There was simply just harmonious beauty in the garden until the first temptation came.  And then darker skies came.  Relations were severed.  Wounds heal, but scars always remain, to remind us of the wound, the pain, and the purity that once was. Even the greatest experiences in life will have some subconscious feeling of longing, some greater mysterious void as a result of past scars.  How far do these scars go back?  How aware are we of a severed relationship in our lives?  Has there ever been a relationship of such intimacy that the scare of its breaking brought great anxiety and feelings of depression?

Inept Intimacy

Perhaps our longing for intimacy in relationships comes from a deeper place inside of us.  Perhaps it reveals itself in different ways in different people, but a deep longing is there, even though many can dull its sensitivity with habitual actions, and regurgitated mental statements leading to superficially-established beliefs.  But real intimacy has largely lost its meaning in our modern culture.  It has a culturally-understood meaning of sex.  And perhaps that is a part of the journey of intimacy, but a journey is more one step.  The scientific synonym for intimacy would be density.  Density at a planetary level (like ours), produces the gravitational field to hold all of the physical matter on our surface from floating into space.  At a whole different stage, the density of our solar system’s sun has enough “intimacy” to produce a “pulling force” on nine other planets (or eight, plus a star).  To carry this analogy out as far as possible, attraction is a powerful factor, to the extent that it can cause great catastrophe if not utilized gently.  So balancing external features of a relationship is important, as it allows for orbit, but if the object pulling in on the one in its orbit wants it to be content, then the focal gravity-producing object must remain a “fixed point”, and keep their distance.  This is where we must part ways with this analogy.

That Relational Focal Point

That lingers as the core question, ddoesn’tit?  Of course, we could submit our spouse, our children, our faith, our education.  These are all unpredictable.  In fact, people have strength in them, so they will go farther than the others.  Faith can be persuaded, and tends to lean on evidence that is both experiential and intellectual.  Perhaps you see a light in the horizon of my article here, but I am going to simply say that it’s theoretical for me.  It is a source of intellectual comfort, which holds my faith, and keeps me in a community of peace and wonderful people.  But it has to be more than just intellectual.  And it has to be more then experiential.  Relationship needs to be whole and entirely immersive.