We ride through the Pennsylvania trees on our way to the Relevant conference – two and half hours of open road and autumn miles — mere appetizers for girl talk; we can’t wait to dig in.
I ask her about writing – about her voice and what it sounds like this last semester of college. She asks me about social media and the public conversation that is a place like Twitter and how’s a girl to feel heard when she’s not comfortable shouting in a room full of strangers.
I know farmer’s wives and brave authors who feel just the same way.
Sometimes it’s hard to know when to speak and when to listen. Sometimes it’s even harder to speak when you think no one’s listening.
And when we pass the big grain silo and the barn with red paint peeling raw against the cornfield horizon, she asks if her voice matters. If there are only one or two who come to see what she’s sharing at her blog, is hitting publish still important?
This question scratches at me too.
And I’ll be asking and answering and sharing ideas about it on Saturday. But for now as we weave our way toward Harrisburg, I think about how social media gives us powerful ways to build, to connect, to give. How it hands us new and wonderful ways to live that old and grand command to love our neighbors as ourselves.
It is a dead end to pursue social media in the hopes of building more followers. Numbers are a house of sand, washed easily away on a whim.
But to build community – to build a place rich with the stories and faces and hopes and dreams of others – to build for them, that is rock solid foundation for the only Message that matters.
I tell her, perhaps it’s not about who doesn’t come to read, it’s about who does. And are we prepared for them? What will we feed the hungry who pull up chairs to our blog table?
Forget the hundreds you wish would come; feed the hungry who are already there.
Feed them your best. Lay out your story and your life and your generous love for them. Perhaps our blogs are only as big as our hospitality. Because platforms can be lonely and spotlights too bright, but no one ever felt unwelcome in that overstuffed armchair pulled up by the fire, with feet up on the coffee table, and a good friend telling you it’s OK to be you.
Perhaps less is more in the comment box just like it is in life. Especially if it gives you time to respond, to encourage, to enjoy the company and conversation of comments for what they really are – people with stories as thick and dog-eared as your own.
One on one, we don’t need to shout. The room isn’t crowded. And truth spills out when you hit publish – even at a whisper.