This year marks the 10th year that I’ve been involved with LDS blogging. TEN YEARS! Back then it was all new. Nobody knew if you were a dog. I was a guest blogger at the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog. Me!
Since then I have attracted a few Internet antagonists and I have written things that have antagonized others.
While I do not regret my honest, though sometimes clumsy, efforts to stand up for what I believe online, 10 years of watching LDS Internet battles has saddened me.
Between the effects of cyber-disinhibition, which lead people to say things online that they would never say in a face-to-face conversation, and the tendency of Internet discussion to super-size Wiio’s Laws of Communication, we have managed to dehumanize and demean each other in all kinds of ways.
Our online foes are often not real people to us but human-shaped containers into which we have poured all of our Internet-distorted perceptions and disagreements.
And that is why I am inviting you all to the 1st Semiannual LDS Friends & Foes Rendezvous.
The objective is to get as many LDS blog participants who are widely considered “conservative” or “orthodox” together in the same location with as many LDS blog participants who are considered “liberal” or “unorthodox” to meet each other face-to-face.
This isn’t a conference or symposium. There won’t be any presentations or papers. There won’t be an entrance fee, though you may be asked to bring a voluntary potluck snack…
The Friends & Foes Rendezvous will be a private social intended as an opportunity to lay down your proverbial weapons and meet your Internet opponents face-to-face, shake hands and chat over chips and salsa, perhaps hold an old-fashioned orthodox vs unorthodox stick-pull, maybe play a card or word game with people who have insulted you online, and then leave, hopefully, with a new appreciation of the real-life individuals with whom you are dealing.
The Rendezvous isn’t meant to bring about reconciliation or agreement. Strong disagreements and irreconcilable ideas and beliefs will continue, and will continue to be vigorously disputed and defended online as well as in person, as they should be.
Foes will likely be foes still.
Nevertheless, attendance is a declaration of civilization, humanity, humility, and Christian courage; a challenge to face an ideological foe in person, look them in the eye, shake their hand, exchange polite conversation, share some vittles and amusements, keep your temper, and leave without exchanging insults or blows.
It would be nice if it inspired a little respect, but let’s not set unrealistic expectations.
But perhaps afterward we will perceive our foes as real, flesh-and-blood, intelligent human beings with lives, and jobs, and families, and hobbies– instead of Internet Grendels to be vanquished.
The LDS Friends & Foes Rendezvous may be a recurring event hosted semiannually around General Conference weekend in April and October.
The April 2014 Rendezvous is tentatively scheduled for Friday April 4th.
The location will be determined after we have a rough idea of how many people will attend. One venue under consideration is Eborn Books, located in downtown Salt Lake City.
Bloggers, Commenters, and Lurkers are all welcome.
I realize that some people may have mission reunions and other events scheduled for that evening, so the exact time will be determined after we have an idea of who is interested in attending. If you can’t attend in April, there is always October…
If you are interested in attending, let me know either here in the comments or by using the contact form on my website: http://www.sixteensmallstones.org/contact/ .
You can also join the event on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1395732664021245/
If you are a blogger and plan to attend, please consider promoting the event to your own readers on your blog as well.
I look forward to meeting you all!