Thursday, March 19, 2009


This morning I met my friend Jack at a coffee shop in Knoxville to sit and talk with a bagel and some tea. We’ve been meeting like this together with Tom every Wednesday for well over two years now, so we have ‘our table’ and ‘the usual’ thing we all order. There’s even a guy that sits across from our table who’s always there, drinking coffee and working on his computer. Well, this morning that guy was not there… In fact, his normal table across from us was occupied by another man who had no companion, no computer, no newspaper or book of any kind. He was alone with his coffee and he was right beside us, just sitting there. The weird thing was that he was leaned up against the wall in such a way that his shoulders were open toward us and he was totally facing us. Undoubtedly he could hear everything we were saying and he seemed to be boldly listening in on our conversation. It was totally awkward! It felt as though Jack and I were like some sort of zoo exhibit, our booth was the cage and he was the zoo patron, just watching us share our breakfast.

I felt so spied on! All of a sudden I found myself speaking more quietly and measuring my words so carefully that I’m not sure I really said much of anything. Eventually the man left, but it shocked me just how comfortable he was to be right there in the middle of our business, although, I don’t guess I should have been so shocked… it seems to me that the boundary lines of privacy and propriety are getting weaker and more blurred all the time. The accessibility of wireless internet connections have given rise to social networking services where just about anyone can find out what just about anyone else is up to at any moment. Myspace, Facebook and Twitter (to name just a few of these services) allow people to proclaim their current status in 100 characters or less and publish this information for the world to see.

The funny thing is that there is absolutely no quality control or accountability when it comes to the truth of these published items, so people understandably post the most flattering pictures of themselves and the most witty and clever things they can come up with. In other words, people stalk their friends, but they only get the controlled information that those friends want them to know. When you want know what someone interesting is up to, you can connect yourself to their Twitter account so that you are notified when they update their status… and this is called “following.” Famous people such as Martha Stewart and Shaquille O’Neal have thousands and thousands of “followers.”

This morning, as our privacy was being awkwardly invaded by the new guy in the coffee shop, Jack and I were talking about all this stalking, tweeting and so-called ‘following’ when he said, “I wonder what Jesus thinks about all this.” – Good point. What does Jesus think about a world full of people so desperate to be known and accepted that they invent a version of themselves to publish at random for all the world to see, a people so curious and insecure that everyone obsesses over watching everyone else when no one is looking and a world full of ‘followers’ who think the term refers to simply wanting know what so and so is up to… Do we know what He meant when He said, “Follow Me,” and expected us to give all? Have we forgotten that He always sees all of us and that when you cry out to Him, He accepts you completely? People are trying so hard to fill up a hole that He put right there inside them on purpose. To know and be known, to be valued, no cherished and totally accepted… it’s something we all want but only He can do, and He wants to do it! He’s just waiting to be asked!


The Hull Munchkins said...

Our society is lacking on so many levels.
We've discussed this at church on many occasions... the fact that God created us to enjoy community. Communion with Him mostly, but also with others. But instead of having real, true community with other people, we prefer the superficial, technology substitute of "following" others.

I love the new pics!! The kids are growing so much. Miss you all!

Molly and Brad said...

oh my gosh, Lee, this is so awesome!! Brad and I were JUST talking about exactly what you were saying about Facebook, Twitter, etc. We as a society are creating an alternate society where we can make our own reality and be whoever we want, even though it is usually lies or stretched truth and all totally disconnected from any real human relationship. So sick. I'm going to forward this post to some people. I hope it makes them think. You are so great to share your thoughts, Lee. I feel blessed to be your friend. -molly

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