As with most subjects, I have vacillated on this one as well over the years.
Is it better for people in general to avoid internet discussions? At this point, I would say that it is not necessary to avoid the internet; indeed, that it is sometimes necessary to take advantage of the internet discussion boards. Few are called to be hermits, and many people enjoy--even need
--to talk about theological and philosophical and practical subjects with others. We are just social beings. So why not do this in the parish? There could be many reasons. Maybe no one at the Church is willing or able to. Maybe the priest is unable to answer most of the issues or questions. Maybe the person is even chastised for asking too many questions. Maybe the person is just shy, or like me tends to mumble and stumble over his own words in real life. There could be lots of reasons. It's true, a person probably would
get a saner answer at the parish, but the problem is that often they will get no answer at all, and we should not assume that they would get a sane answer every
time. And, if they do happen to get a bad answer at the parish level, they are basically stuck with that answer (and probably don't even realise that they have been misinformed), having isolated themselves for the sake of piety.
For thousands of years it has been a natural and beneficial practice for people to meet and discuss the serious things of life. The ancient Greeks met and discussed philosophy (and Paul took advantage of this). The ancient Hebrews also met and discussed in the synagogue (again Paul took advantage). The ancient Byzantine (oops, sorry, Roman
) Christians talked theology in the markets. The English in Chesterton's day talked in the pubs. But where do Americans talk about important subjects?
Largely, nowhere. ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€š Nowhere, that is, until the internet exploded. Psychologists have long noted that Americans need more "personal space" than people from many other countries. We just like independence. This has had both good and bad consequences. The internet has allowed us to keep our independence, and sense of people not violating our "personal space," while at the same time engaging in the social interaction that almost all humans seek after.