You Are Real: Reading, Speeches and Poetry
Over at HCB, we're hosting a project called You Are Real, about the realness (or not) of online relationships. It seemed fitting to ask a real online friend to guest-post for the occasion. I think you'll especially like what he has to say about something called "secondary orality." Kinda cool, from my friend Glynn Young...
I've always been a rather voracious reader. I don’t know exactly when I learned to read, but I remember one of the first books I read by myself – Trixie Belden and the Secret of the Mansion. I was almost 7 and bought it for 59 cents (hardback) at the local dime store.
Reading led to writing; writing led to journalism; journalism led to corporate communications and speechwriting. I'd been writing speeches for more than 15 years when the online world erupted with email and the worldwide web. The transition from written word to virtual word was almost seamless for me. It didn’t make any sense, though, so besotted as I was with the written/spoken word, to embrace the online world as fast as I did.
Except. Except that speechwriting is creating in one medium – the written or typed word – to be communicated in another medium – the human voice – for understanding in a third medium – the human ear (and mind and heart). I was used to crossing media to communicate. Academics have studied this and say that electronic communications is a kind of secondary orality – like a return to an oral culture before we had the printing press.
A lot of people, mostly those who avoid social media like Twitter and Facebook and look at the web only when they have to, look rather darkly at all of this. This isn’t real, they think. This is fleeting, moving and disappearing as fast as the last tweet.
And yet, for me, it’s very real. It’s my day-to-day work, for one thing. For another, it’s how I’ve found myself in a community of people I’m coming to know, admire, appreciate and like.
I first met Laura Barkat in the pages of Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places, while I had an oxygen tube up my nose and several broken ribs from a bike crash. Through her book, she kept me company during a dark summer night in the hospital, while I listened to the man in the next bed moan through the hours before his early morning surgery. From there, I found this blog and then Laura on Twitter. And then came a poetry jam (on Twitter) and an online publication called TweetSpeak Poetry.
I met Bradley Moore in the comment box on a web site about work and faith, and then through his blog, and later being edited by him for online posts.
I met Marcus Goodyear on Bradley’s blog, and then his own, and then being edited by him, too, for publication.
Somewhere in all of that I met Maureen Doallas, and eventually was interviewed by her and then I interviewed her for an article. (It’s intimidating to interview Maureen; she is the best interviewer I’ve ever met.) One day nAncY Rosback at Poems and Prayers popped in. And so many others.
I became part of a growing community, and I began to grow with it. And the people are real. With real hearts and minds and hopes and dreams and fears. (Some I’ve talked to on the phone. Laura and Marcus, for example; they sounded like I expected them to sound. Bradley, on the other hand, didn’t sound like the business executive he is; he sounded like a writer and – forgive me, Brad – a poet.)
So friendships and community are born and grow. So are they real.
Glynn Young is a corporate Social Media Director, an award winning speech writer, and a Contributing Editor for HighCallingBlogs. He is also a businessman turned poet, and serves as Editor of TweetSpeak Poetry.
Flash photo, by Sonia, age 10. Used with permission.
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