Stalking . . . Revisited, or Why "Following" is a Good Thing

Do you ever look back at your understanding of a concept and recognize that your perspective has changed dramatically? Periodically in life, there are epiphanies … those wonderful moments of revelation when something becomes crystal clear. For me, processes of enlightenment are much more common than moments. And for this reason, it’s easy to not notice when they’re happening. But then, for some reason, you look back. And you realize that your understanding last week or last year is so completely different than it is today.

Facebook, Inc.Image via Wikipedia

Social media is a bit like that for me. I look at my life today — how I spend my time, how I communicate with friends, how I stay in touch with family and friends from long ago — and I can hardly remember what life was like before Facebook and Twitter and blog readers. I type that and I’m almost embarrassed. Seriously?! I don’t remember my pre-Facebook life? Well, that’s not exactly true.

But how do social media work? The essence of it is the ability to follow someone. Each medium has its own name for this. On Facebook, you ask someone to be your friend. [Isn’t that sweet? And how odd that, even I — who prefers decent, old-fashioned grammar — speak of friending people.] On Twitter, you follow someone. For blogs, you might follow someone. Or perhaps, you subsribe to their blog. Any way you slice it, you are making a formal connection with a person. You’re saying, “I want to hear what you have to say.” And even, perhaps, “I want you to listen to what I have to say.” Of course, some social media are explicitly one-way, unless you specify otherwise (e.g. Twitter & blog subscriptions), while some are explicitly two-way (e.g. Facebook).

Over the past couple of years, I have begun to read blogs regularly. I just checked in with Google Reader and I am currently following 32 blogs! Oh my goodness! Only a few of these are blogs with daily entries, though, so it’s really not as much reading as it may sound. The great thing about a blog reader like Google Reader is that the blogs I read come to me. I don’t have to remember to check 32 web sites every so often to see if the author has posted anything. Instead, I check one site a few times a day and read whatever is there.

If you look at the list of blogs I subscribe to, you’ll probably get a sense of the things that interest me, the issues that are on my heart. In fact, you could do the same thing with my bookshelves. In the world of social media, some people do a thing on Fridays called “Follow Friday.” It’s an interesting concept. On Fridays, they offer (for anyone that’s interested) suggestions regarding people to follow. I know it’s not Friday today, but I was thinking yesterday (when it was Friday) that it might be nice to occasionally tell you about a book that has been influential or that I really enjoyed … or a blog that I read that is interesting to me.

So, it might come up on Fridays. Or it might not. And it’s not necessarily in order of preference or importance. In fact, there are a few particularly influential books or blogs that I’ll need to work up to. [Remember, I’m an introvert by nature. You have to get to know me for a while to really know my heart.]

For today, I offer you Donald Miller. He’s the author of a number of books, some of which I’ve read:

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life (2009)

To Own a Dragon: On Growing Up Without a Father (2006)

Through Painted Deserts: Light, God and Beauty on the Open Road (2005)

Searching for God’s Know What (2004)

Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality (2003)

Donald MillerImage by j.gresham via Flickr

I might talk about them another day. For today, though, I offer you his blog. I like Donald Miller because his faith is deep and his love for people is deep. And he’s not afraid to speak his mind.

Who knows, maybe you’d like to follow him too.

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