Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a series of two. Part 2 is here. Also, this post was updated at 4:45pm 6/21/12.
The Journey Begins
I like my ruts. I am very curious by nature.
In order to balance this paradox in my nature, on each birthday I look for a new challenge to embrace in the coming year. So on April 27, 2009, I joined Facebook and then Twitter five months later. My son Christopher helped me get started with a brief tutorial and two pieces of advice:
- Listen first – this will help you to learn the conventions of the dialog that is taking place in the social media space
- Be brief – extract extra words before posting
A wise man that son of mine!
Since then, I ‘ve played with multiple Facebook groups and pages, multiple Twitter feeds and have even led a small group study during Lent via Facebook. But what has been most meaningful are my interactions with – friends both old and new. My time is probably split 60/40 Facebook/Twitter. It has been fun and I have learned a lot.
My Facebook interactions are mostly with my family, people from my church and other friends and acquaintances I know in real life (IRL).
My favorite part of Facebook is the pictures. Facebook makes it so easy to share pictures. I love the ability to see pictures in the moment. It is the second best thing to actually being there! The immediacy of community participation facilitated by Facebook is a true gift.
For example, in the summer of 2009 my brother Rick and my sister in law Niki – both from New Orleans – as well as my daughter Kristina (Dallas) participated in a Triathlon in New Braunfels, TX. My two nieces had to work and were not able to make the trip to Texas. I was at the event and the designated cheerleader for the Family Triathlon Team.
How cool is it that through a steady stream of posts and pictures posted on Facebook, my nieces, other family members and friends were able to cheer on our Triathletes with me in ‘real time’?! I love cheering for family and friends, but even more so when I am able to include others who are unable to be physically present due to geographical and/or time constraints. (It is a space-time issue which the engineer in me loves!)
Through Facebook, the support of the community was expanded to include those not physically present. For me, breaking the bounds of place and time is definitely a thin space experience. Digital holy ground, so to speak.
My interactions on Twitter are for the most part with people I haven’t met. I started with church folks Christopher suggested and branched out from there. Next, I looked for folks who share my love of science and found a few church folks who love science. What a gift!
One special blessing for me has been actually meeting people I follow on Twitter. To date I have met three of the folks I follow: Josh Hale (@expatminister), Christie Hale (@christiehale), and Brenda Keller (@BrendaAKeller). These meetings have all been such a joy for me. It was a treat to spend time with them. Our on-line relationship made our time together very comfortable.
With @BrendaAKeller it was a serendipitous occurrence, filled with a special God-infused grace for my daughter and me. Kristina and I traveled to Atlanta to attend a conference where Angie Smith (@angiesmith19) would be speaking. Her writings had helped Kristina through a particularly difficult time, and we were excited to make the trip to hear her speak in person.
While awaiting the conference start, I scrolled through my Twitter feed. I saw a tweet from Brenda referencing the conference. She was at the conference too! We met up at Starbucks.
What a gift for God to plant an old/new friend in just the place/time that we needed her, and to provide the technology to enable our IRL meeting!
The meeting with Brenda was the opposite of the space-time problem posed by my Triathlon cheering. In Atlanta, we were all in the same place at the same time. It was Twitter that informed us of this fact and enabled our connection. Be still this engineer’s heart - more digital holy ground!
On Tuesday, Sherri will continue her digital journey with the Key Benefits she has discovered in the last three years.
Image Credit: khalid Albaih