I remember the first day I met my friend Nibby in person. It was Vacation Bible School week about 6 years ago and he and I were heading opposite directions down the hall at Presbyterian Church. He had stopped by to see something about the organ. I was…well, I was directing VBS, so honestly there’s no telling what I was doing.
“Becky! I’m Nibby!” He said and gave me a big hug. It was such a great moment because I was meeting someone I already loved!
That was the first time I met Nibby in person, but not the first time I met Nibby. He and I had been following each other on Twitter and conversing online for months.
I have a lot of online friends.
Some of you are judging me now, and that’s okay I guess. I mean, it’s okay by me, anyway. You’ll have to work out if that’s actually okay on your own.
I’m used to the judgment. People are always not getting it. I’m currently attending a conference of otherwise wonderful Presbyterians, a lot of whom don’t get it. From the guy who declared at a social media and ministry workshop yesterday, “I’ve never seen Facebook, have no interest in Facebook and don’t ever plan to visit Facebook!” to the people who say, “Oh……………..” and stare blankly when they hear my excitement over meeting someone in person that I’ve only known online until now. Or worse, people who roll their eyes and huff about how they don’t care what I ate for breakfast this morning.
A lot of the people at this conference are people whom I met the same way I met Nibby–via Twitter. We talk to each other all the time, sharing ideas, laughing together (sometimes, we even type ‘LOL’), praying for each other, weeping with each other, encouraging each other, pushing back against each other’s ideas, creating new, ridiculous hashtags to use, crowd-sourcing sermons, book ideas or Sunday School lessons…we are a community of friends. Sometimes we’re a church. Sometimes we’re a family.Â For me, this group of ministers and educators and seminarians and believers and skeptics and comedians and photographers and students make me a way better person, leader, teacher, thinker and follower of Christ than I otherwise could manage on my own.
I love my In Real Life Friends, with whom I sit across the table and drink coffee or around the fire pit and tell stories. I have wonderful friends who are part of my face to face time daily. But my online friends, some of whom I know in real life, but mostly interact with online (still holding cups of coffee sometimes) are just as wonderful to know and are loved just as much.
So this one’s for all my online friends! I totally care about what you ate for breakfast this morning, so keep tweeting!