the gift of twitter

September 3, 2009

Here’s the thing about the internet. It offers access to people and information from all over the world. We can hear and see what life looks like for people who we might have no connection with otherwise.

Here’s the other thing about the internet. It helps us connect with people who are a lot like us. People who might have similar beliefs and values but live a city, state, or continent away.

With Twitter this is amplified. It is an uber conversation stretching around the world and around the clock. I’ve connected with people on Twitter, later met them in person, and now can call them friends. Some of them, good friends. I’ve met people who live nearby and far away.

But here’s the problem. We often gravitate more to the people who are like us, and less to the people who aren’t. The more access we have to people who think like us, and talk like us, and reflect our own view back to us, the more we get stuck in an echo chamber. And the less we have our own way of thinking sharpened or challenged by thoughtful people with different ideas.

Whatever walk of life you come from, you can reflect on how true this might be of you, but let me speak these last few words into the pastors’ echo chamber. It’s an echo chamber I spend time in, and granted, I’ve learned some stuff in there. And I still do. And I love how it keeps me in touch with longtime friends.

But the real gift of Twitter has been the connection to the people who I share a city with. I’ve connected with people from all walks of life that I’ve later met in person. Some of them, most of them, have views that are different than mine. But I hear about what they are concerned about. I learn how they share a passion for life…especially life in Austin.

When I pull my laptop open in the morning, I’m better off as a pastor knowing what the people sitting around me in the coffee shop are thinking instead of the pastor sitting in an office 1500 miles away.

Who are you following? Who are you hearing?

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