Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Is all that social media chatter TMI?

Have you seen the TV commercial about search overload? You know, the one where someone mentions a word and everyone in the vicinity goes into free association mode, babbling everything they have ever heard or read that relates even vaguely to that word. The implication is that the currently available search engines are too general in scope to be really helpful and that everyone should immediately sign up for whatever the newest thing is.

I can kind of relate to that commercial because sometimes it feels like I am constantly inundated with TMI (too much information). On Facebook and Twitter I follow the moment by moment activities of hundreds of my closest friends. Much of that info is kind of random, in the "I don't know what to cook for dinner" category. Some of it is really specific, replies to some specific event that I don't know anything about and thus confuses me. Some is in response to important local and national and global events. There are blogs posted, links added, photos shared, and celebrations lifted up. There is also great pain posted - words and images of tragic personal loss. Just this morning I learned that one friend's cancer returned and another has lost a nephew.

Meanwhile I am writing. I'm writing about what's going on with me and responding to what's going on with my friends. I'm writing newsletter articles and website updates and sermons and notes to parishioners. I'm trying to remember to post blog entries, and trying to figure out if I can maybe find one place to post an entry that will automatically update everyplace. I feel overwhelmed and sometimes I wonder if all this information is really serving anyone.

But y'know, I find that I really don't mind hearing the minutia of people's lives because in between all the "what should I have for dinner" and "I just bought a new pair of red shoes" posts are writings that tell me what is happening in the depths of the soul. Cries of pain and shouts of joy. Commentary that helps me see another perspective. Opinions from people I never would have heard, because my group of friends overlaps with your group of friends which overlaps with someone else's group of friends, and I see all those comments from people I'd have never "met" otherwise.

I have learned over time that I see God most clearly in other peoples' eyes and lives. The more people I connect with and learn about, the more I learn about God. The more I participate in relationship with other people, the more I participate in my relationship with God because God lives within each of us.

Is all that social media chatter TMI? I think not. I think it helps bring me closer to you and him and her and God. And that can only be a good thing.

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