Nagoonberry

This world. This place. This life.


3 Comments

A stile in the Facebook garden wall

I like using HootSuite to post simultaneously to Facebook and Twitter, and today I figured out why.

Thanks to Chris Walton, I’ve been thinking since December about Facebook as a walled garden.

Chris said—and I’m paraphrasing here—that much of the public conversation of UU blogging had moved into the walled garden of Facebook. Particularly into the walled gardens of Facebook groups.

Now, don’t get me wrong here. I love the energy of UU Facebook groups. They are an amazing place to meet people, have great conversations, spark new ideas.

But there is a downside, particularly for a religion where newcomers often say, after years of wandering in the wilderness, “I was a UU, and I didn’t know it!”

The downside is that we’re spending a lot of time and energy enclosed in private spaces, talking only to each other.

We’re having tea parties in our walled gardens—and tea parties have their place.

But we also need to host concerts in public parks.

We need to find ways to bridge private and public.

Which brings me back to HootSuite.

I think HootSuite is a stile in the Facebook garden wall.

Image

What do you think? Are there times when you want to say something to your friends on Facebook—and also to the public at large? What are you using to bridge public and private?

Photo by Tim Green, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Evangelism: a tale of two salespeople

Yesterday I went to Costco for a long-overdue eye exam.

Among other things, I wanted to return to wearing contacts. The optometrist—who has perfect, uncorrected vision—mentioned that he tries out every new kind of contact. He said, “There’s this one—the moment I put them in my eyes, I knew they were terrible. I don’t sell many of them.”

“Because you choose not to, or because people try them and don’t like them?” I asked.

“Both,” he said. “The sales rep told me, ‘Just sell them to people who’ve never had contacts. They won’t know the difference.”

“Ugh,” I said. “That’s why people don’t trust salespeople.”

Later he recommended a brand of monthly replacement contacts, and gave me a pair to try.

I slipped them in my eyes, and despite the five-year hiatus from contacts, they felt great. I could hardly tell that they were in my eyes.

 

This story is really about two salespeople—the rep and the optometrist.

The rep was willing to do anything to sell his brand of contacts. The result? Distrust.

The optometrist tested all the contacts, and only recommended ones that felt comfortable in his eyes. The result? Trust.

Distrust of salespeople is not new.

It’s pervasive. Most of us go out of our way to avoid looking like we’re selling something.

In UU circles, it often keeps us from sharing the good news about the religious community we call home. We’re afraid people will think we’re snake oil salesmen.

But there’s another way to “sell.” It’s the model my optometrist uses. Try something. See if you like it. If you do, share it with people you care about. If you don’t, warn people off.

It’s simple, and it’s trustworthy.

So if you’ve found a religious home that you enjoy, don’t be afraid to tell your friends about it.

Don’t push. Don’t presume that what works for you will work for them.

But don’t keep it a secret. Invite them to try it.

They might like it—or not. That’s up to them.

Your job is to make your religious community a healthy, life-enriching place to be—one that keeps the door open, and has clear signage inviting newcomers to come on in.


7 Comments

We’re leaving, on the ferry

Liesl, Willa, Brady and I are about to embark on an adventure.

We’re going to load up Liesl’s pickup truck, and board the Alaska Marine Highway’s cross-gulf ferry from Whittier to Bellingham, Washington.

Ketchikan visit

We’ll pick up a teardrop trailer in Portland, hook  it to the back of Liesl’s truck, and hit the road.

Liesl’s dad is coming from Ohio to condo-sit for us. He’ll be here to spend time thinking about next steps in his life, and we’re hitting the road to do the same.

We’re planning a two-month trip, but have no idea how Willa will travel. It could be a much shorter trip!

We have no post-ferry itinerary yet. We’ve talked about driving to Michigan, where Liesl’s mom lives. We might take it slow, and just spend time exploring Washington. Our mid-range plan is to make a loop through the Mountain West.

We have friends and family we hope to see along the way, and places to investigate where we’re thinking about settling down next.

Whatever we decide to do, it will certainly be an adventure.

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”― J.R.R. TolkienThe Lord of the Rings

 

Photo by Jay Galvin, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.


Leave a comment

Baby’s best friend

Willa was out of sorts yesterday afternoon when she woke up from her second nap. She was standing by the side of her crib, let go of the rail, and fell down. It made her grumpy.

She and I sat down in the recliner next to the crib for a bit of a snuggle, but she was still snuffling.

Brady can’t stand it when Willa is in any kind of distress.

He saw one of her toys on the floor across the room, went and got it, and brought it to her.

“Here, Willa,” he seemed to say. “Have a toy. They always make me feel better.”

And it worked.

As a thank-you, Willa gave Brady two cookies. She thought about eating them herself, but changed her mind (with my help).

Brady and Will


Leave a comment

There is no such thing as Facebook

Really. There is no such thing as Facebook.

Facebooks, yes. But no Facebook.

I was reading a particularly charming status update posted by one of my friends, and suddenly it hit me: no two people have the same experience of Facebook. (In our house, we call this a U-Haul moment—when you suddenly see something obvious, like “you haul.”)

Each of us has a unique combination of friends, groups we’ve joined, and pages we’ve liked. And Facebook does god knows what with its algorithms to vary the content in our newsfeeds, based on what we’ve “liked” or commented on that day.

So if I have witty friends who tell charming stories, and you have annoying friends who badger you about playing games with them, how can we debate the value of Facebook?

If the pages I’ve liked constantly try to sell me something, while the pages you’ve liked offer helpful information, how can we discuss a common experience that doesn’t exist?

And if the groups I’ve joined have given me a new outlet for creativity and connection, while the groups you’ve joined are conflict zones—or dead space—how can we decide if Facebook is a waste of time, or a productive tool?


21 Comments

Friends far away

This week’s Daily Post Challenge, “threes,” is an invitation to respond to one of six photographic triptychs.

I scrolled quickly through them, and the last set of photos grabbed me.

I saw the distinctive roofline of the Sydney Opera House and thought, “Australia!”

And then, “Lisa lives there. Well, not in Sydney, but still.”

Just for a moment, the photos, and the thought of Lisa, pushed hard on a sore spot.

The propelling force of my life has been centrifugal. My friendships have been like the steamed kale I put in the Vitamix this morning—hurled away from the center, shredded, splattered up, out, against the sides of the container.

We live in a time of such tremendous mobility. Lisa and I became friends during our first week of college, and now she lives in Australia, and I live in Alaska. Two wonderful adventures.

Given the choice, I suspect Lisa and I would make the same decisions that took us far from home, far from friends, that pushed us to places where we had to recreate our lives, put down new roots, try to make new friends.

But the cost is high, and some days I envy those who stayed closer to home.

Some days I wish I could wrap my fingers around a cup of coffee, look across the table, and have a long talk with a friend who has known me for decades.

Today is one of those days.

 


6 Comments

Burn your stories

Writers give the world a gift: they name experience.

They find words, string them together, and share them. And when they get just the right combination, their audience says, “Yes! That’s exactly right!”

Naming experience feels good. It scratches the itch in the back of your mind. It brings a fuzzy image into focus. It builds a bookshelf, and organizes your library.

But naming also has a downside.

Once we name an experience, it’s frozen. The name makes its meaning so clear, there’s no room for other explanations.

Last week I told a friend a story from my childhood.

It’s a great story. It makes so many things clear. It helps me understand why I struggle.

And my friend heard it that way. “Oh,” she said, with a shake of her head. “Oh, my.”

But then she said, “You know, you’re almost forty years from when that happened.”

And those few words helped melt the ice trapping me in one perspective. They gave me room to see myself in a new way.

Words are certainly a gift. We need tools to bring the world into focus. We need ways to understand the stream of experience in which we swim.

But the stories we tell ourselves are dangerous, because they are so compelling. We clutch them in our hands, holding on for dear life.

It’s not that we should stop telling stories. But we do need to hold them in open hands, to sweep them from the table like mandala sand.

So tell a story. And burn it. Tell another. And burn it. Again and again.

Don’t worry. What’s true will survive.