Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Connection

We're disconnected from each other, and we know it. It's not how things are supposed to be. Even people who would say they have no faith in God or in any sort of higher being or supreme power still have a sense that there is a way things are supposed to be. And that way involves us as humans being connected with each other.
Rob Bell - Sex God

For some reason, on my way to work, I have entered a weird geosynchronous orbit with two people...

The first chap is, roughly, in his forties. He stops his car outside his work... gets out... picks his case from his boot (trunk) and walks a few steps into his work.

The second chap is, again roughly, in his thirties. He comes off the train and walks to his work. He is accompanied by a woman of, roughly, a similar age to him.

The first chap is a Pastor. He is a nice guy and I have worshiped in his church. To be fair, he doesn't know me... and I only know of him.

The second chap is a contact from Flickr. He lives in Glasgow and works in Motherwell. We connected through a mutual appreciation for the visual treats that both urban spaces provide. We speak when our paths cross and wave to each other when we pass by.

Who do I feel more connected with?

The second chap.

Why?

Because we have a meaningful interaction. Its not a deep interaction, by any means... we are not close... but it is meaningful. We share common interests (photography & an appreciation of the visual world we live in) and we have had a few laughs. I sometimes feel it is weird that I know a Flickr friend - someone who I didn't know before using Flickr - but kind of know now.

I joined Facebook only last week and already I have 43 friends. This isn't a boast by any means... I'm small fry compared with others... but I can say I have had meaningful interactions with the majority of the people I class as friends... either physically or remotely (either by phone or online).

I define connection, in this context, as being a meaningful interaction between people... and I define meaningful as something significant and memorable.

You could argue I have more in common with the first chap than the second. He shares my faith, afterall... but we haven't had a meaningful experience. As I said above... I know of him but I do not know him.

This whole web2.0 malarky allows us to develop meaningful and lasting connections with people we may never physically meet... and this means our reach as humans has never been greater.

However, I do believe in the power of physical connection too. My sister Janey has moved to a house 5 mins from ours in the car. The ability for Olly and I to just pop over to see her is thrilling. Something we haven't really had for a while.

Walking to work helps me to be part of my neighbourhood... being in the space helps to build context for meaningful interactions to occur. I don't know where the first chap lives but I would have thought that if it were possible to walk to his work... then he should. He would be seen... recognised... and this would break down barriers and provide more opportunities for interaction. This isn't a criticism of the chap by any means... but I am intrigued by the value of being in and of the community where your church is based. Something we have never explored... yet.

At the end of the day... for me... it isn't important how we connect... or that we can connect. Its less about quantity and more about quality. Whether it is face-to-face over a coffee... or a chat via IM... or a quick call on the phone... the how is immaterial. What is important is that we do connect and that we use whatever time we have to the best we can.

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