Tall Fences Make… Bad Communities…

In an information age, everyone is obsessed with privacy. It’s easy to mistake Facebook junkies for over sharing or for being simplistic in their Facebook, twitter, or other social media use, but this misses the point. Facebook is like a high fence – it allows you to control how you appear to others in the same way a high fence does in a less virtual space. 

Since moving to Claude, I know that this is a community without high fences. Or at least there are pockets in which no one breathes without someone knowing, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For one, you cannot be a fake person, your reputation will proceed you. It can allow you to be held accountable and allow for reconciliation and healing to occur. Both of which take time, which is often misconstrued as burying the past.

Don’t get me wrong, there are wounds and pains and injuries – in general all sorts of relational mess, but I feel it would be better, happier, and healthier if it were coupled with general acknowledgment of the need for reconciliation and healing. Privacy doesn’t keep wounds out – it allows us to hoard them in and only let select people in. It takes us out of the environment we are most meant for… a community. 

Tall fences make good neighbors? All it does is side step on particular aspect of nosiness and allows us to control the perception our neighbors have of us. It robs us of intimacy and helps us to have a false sense of what intimacy really is. In essence it produces a concept of intimacy more based on what I can share with whom. This expands the sphere of control that we have to our friendships and even marriages. When that type of control is really impossible within a relationship, we break it off – divorce or disenchanted friendship left behind for the greener pastures of a controlled new relationship. 

Real intimacy is a bit harder. John’s epistle says that when we are faithful to confess our sins together we recieve Christ’s forgiveness. Confess means to say with, meaning that we have to say that something is sin in agreement with our brothers and sisters. Paul adds in that we must be willing to bear one another’s burdens and willing to approach one another in community to call people out on their sin. Perhaps even a few will be peacemakers and comforters. Intimacy takes a village. 

Of course, even then it wont all be perfect. But it will at least be a community where friendship and intimacy and wise counsel will always be possible. 

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About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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