Coffee Via New Communication Technology

I have been reflecting, of late, on the impact and significance of new communication technologies / social networking tools in our culture. The Internet itself, blogs, email, instant messaging, texting, i-phones, Blackberries, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc. Communication in Western culture has changed exponentially in my lifetime, and I am only 35!

Yesterday I shared a link to a video that gives a rather unnerving, satirical viewpoint on Twittering, the micro-blogging phenomenon of which I have been a part now for maybe two or three months. Today I am glad to share with you how all this high-tech instant communication can be a part of a real relationship where coffee is imbibed, stories are shared, theology is hammered out, and friendship is deepened.

Last week as I was going through my emails at the office, I got an instant message (G-mail style) from a good friend of mine. It was one of those “Wazzup?” kind of messages. Rather quickly, this simple correspondence evolved into some genuine theological discussion. My Catholic friend had been talking to his Pentecostal co-worker about the Trinity, and he was curious to hear my non-denominational, evangelical take on it. I quickly suggested to him that a late lunch at Raising Cane’s was required if this was to go any further. (For those of you living outside the range of Cane’s, you are sadly missing out on the finest chicken fingers and dipping sauce known to the free world. Guthrie’s in Tuscaloosa, AL holds a close second.)

The conversation was spirited, heartening, and rather deep. As we were leaving, my buddy commented that we really should do this more regularly, kinda like the old guys who have breakfast every Friday morning at Frank’s, or IHOP, or whatever. We both laughed, but agreed he was onto something, and left with an undefined hope of continuing this dialogue.

So yesterday he sends me another G-mail instant message, clarifying the Trinitarian view of his Pentecostal colleague, etc. Before we finished the online conversation, we had set up a standing weekly appointment for coffee on Friday mornings at 6:30. I sense real, lasting friendship in the making – the kind that doesn’t seem to happen as much anymore in our culture of surface relationships and conversational skimming. We’ll see.

My point today is this: tools make whatever impact they make based on how they are used by the tool-wielder. All this communication technology can easily be used as a substitute for real relationships while giving the appearance of many friendships. But it can be a helpful method for real people to make real progress in deepening real relationships over real coffee. Bottoms up!

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