Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Communication isn't what it used to be. My mother kept my grandmother updated with letters (sent one of those lately?). My father used to complain about the length of our phone calls. Now we have Facebook, email, texting, blogs and Twitter (where you can send periodic "tweets" about your day). I contend that there is still nothing that beats a face to face conversation, when you get to enjoy one of those. But those conversations can actually be enhanced digitally. Here's how:

1. Speed. When you stay in touch digitally, you can more quickly catch up personally. Instead of having nothing to talk about, or fiddling around and wasting precious time with the "What's up?....Nothing much really" conversations, you can get right to the heart of life: "I saw that you are getting baptized this weekend" or "What's this about your kid getting a CT scan?" Now we're talking! Our friends have done us the favor of providing the topic. Now we can engage, share and pray with each other.

2. Depth. When you stay in touch digitally, you can take your personal conversations deeper. In an ironic twist, people are more apt to share something significant in a blog posting than they will across a coffee table. The sense of anonymity and safety that comes when you are hiding behind a computer screen can seduce you into a vulnerability that is unusual. How many times have you heard a concerning report about someone and thought, "I just saw them and they didn't say anything about that!" With digital, there's a greater likelihood that you'll know the skinny.

3. Constancy. When you stay in touch digitally you can avoid long intervals without any contact. With the various digital outlets, you can maintain at least a trickle of information between personal visits. This reduces the need to get "caught up" and allows you to both talk about the present more than the past when you see each other. My sister uses the phrase "ambient awareness" to describe the benefit she receives by being connected to others on Facebook.

The digital revolution is not a very good replacement for face to face community, but it is a pretty good enhancement to it.

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