Wednesday, July 21, 2010

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.


HighCallingBlogs We Are Real

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Blogger Louise Gallagher said...

Thank you for speaking so clearly of what 'this place' means!

Great writing -- as always!

9:27 AM  
Blogger Sandra Heska King said...

I continue to be amazed at how real the virtual is. Growing. Heart to heart. Family.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Kathleen Overby said...

You nailed it, Glynn. Finding all y'all through twitter has been a life changing event. I still find it strange that
bonds of intimate friendship grow without face to face,
eyeball to eyeball 'real'. It feels real and it feels good. And I'm thankful. Very. Confession; I would love to meet each of my online friends and wrap them up in a warm hug. But, since most of you are hopping when I finally get up, you all 'have coffee with me' every morning. It's good and I look forward to each post, each new chapter in my REAL FRIENDS' lives........

9:46 AM  
Blogger SimplyDarlene said...

That link on secondary orality is very interesting. I never thought of what we do here in that light. I found this to be particularly insightful, "it does not have the features of primary orality because it presumes, rests upon, and may even be people reading written material. Thus, secondary orality is not repetitive, redundant, antagonistic, etc."

I, too, have been blessed to talk to a couple of HCB friends on the phone. What beauty I found in doing so! Perhaps we all could arrange an international conference call someday and really get an earful?!

Great post. Thank you Laura and Glynn.


10:16 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Oh, no, not that word "intimidating"! I'm too small to be intimidating. And I don't have 9-inch nails or wear even 3-inch heels.

We met through a poem and since then I've come to see you as one of the most generous readers and commenters and friends.

The virtual world isn't make-believe when it creates friendships that exist off the page, and I know the joy of many such friendships now, all of them starting in a place where words fly along invisible wires, through plugs in the wall, on screens that can light up life, and in mailboxes that deliver poetry and letters on real paper. Everyone should be so lucky!

10:31 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

love love this.
thank for putting this together, thank you for sharing it.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Deidra said...

It is real, isn't it? I'm new to the community but already feel as if I fit. We fit. Admittedly slow to the whole social media thing - for many of the reasons Glynn mentions - I'm in now. For good. These friendships are family. They are a gift. They are grace.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Ann Kroeker said...

You do "real" well, Glynn. I love seeing you so often in comments and tweets offering encouragement or a thoughtful contribution to the conversation at hand.

One thing I have struggled with is finding enough time to build these relationships online in addition to all that I do offline. I'm still trying to figure out how to do it all genuinely and thoroughly.

Any thoughts on that?

12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i really like that photo!

this is such an interesting subject! to think of transitions of medium alone is mindblowing.

even more mindblowing for me, is the power that lives and moves in interaction, relationship, communication, attention, caring...etc.

i think that the driving force of the communication is even more powerful and important that the media used.

this is what makes it real.
very very real.

i am thankful for all the people that i have been able to communicate with on-line.

12:40 PM  
Blogger S. Etole said...

For those of us who live rather isolative lives, the encouragement and thoughts shared through this means offer a very real world.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

So good, Glynn. This community is such a sweet tapestry. When I think back, I can't recall how it all came together the way it did. I met Laura the same as you, through Stone Crossings, when I stumbled across Ann Voskamp's interview with her. That led me to HCB...where I quickly got involved in the book club Sam was leading. I think you were the other faithful contributor (Did you do The Gift with us?) if not that first one then the second for sure.

It is such a beautiful thing, this weaving together. So glad we all found each other. It's a special place, community. Real.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is so good, Glynn. :)

3:37 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Yes, real. Great post. Real people, real encouragement, and real life, all shared "here". Thank you, Glynn.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Duane Scott said...

And now I catch myself wondering... "When did I "meet" you Glynn?"

I don't remember. I fell into this wonderful amazing group of blogger friends and I had no idea these relationships could be so real.

I didn't believe at first.

But I learned something. The reason I didn't believe is because I hadn't experienced an online interaction that was real.

Thanks to all of you reading this comment for making me rethink a few things.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Amy Sullivan said...

I loved peeking into your world and seeing how your relationships have developed.

HCB truly is a true community, and one I'm excited to be a part!

4:53 PM  
Anonymous Nikole Hahn said...

If you ask some in our church about Facebook, their faces squish together and their brows furrow. They look down at you and say, "Facebook? Twitter?" I almost expect a "Bah Humbug." Others have a different attitude. They understand it and balance it with real life. Like I said on High Calling Blogs, the church is not a building. It is a body of believers and we can come together in person or online and encourage each other in our walk and when we fall down. Good article.

6:40 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I am so happy reading these posts. I believe there are wonderful relationships born and nurtured in this community. I have been encouraged, prayed for, blessed in ways I cannot begin to number.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Btradley J. Moore said...

So, I sound like a writer/poet? I will take that as a compliment, Glynn, seriously! Even though I am not quite sure what that means... (it could have been that we were really focused on writer stuff rather than executive stuff!)

This group is definitely a real, live community. And I believe it is only a matter of time before we meet each other in person and continue to build our friendships further.

10:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Building community where we know people who know other people is proving just as important online as off. This is what makes relationships in both dimensions, in both oralities, real.

11:59 PM  
Blogger ELK said...

thank you ..your always eloquent way of laying down a story caused me to see one staring me right in the are a blessing to me..ELK

9:10 AM  
Blogger Zayannee said...

Hello old blog friend. Its been awhile. Like the post. Very real :-)

11:07 AM  
Blogger Michelle DeRusha said...

I like this very much, Glynn. And you just scored major points with me, you Trixie Belden fan, you!

Thanks, LL, for hosting Glynn here today -- you are both super great!

3:54 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Thanks Glynn. I so much agree. I really get rather lonely even as I try to communicate with others. I need to spend more time with you folks, I think. Because for me, blogging or sharing online is as much about fellowship, as it is about learning from each other.

Thanks, L.L. for your thoughts on this as well, and for hosting Glynn on your blog. And for sharing those thoughts on oral culture. Quite interesting. I'll have to follow up that link. Face to face is good, but I have to admit that it seems like the best communication I experience overall comes through this media. I don't know if that speaks all that well about myself. And I do exclude the fellowship I have at home with my wife, as that is more significant. And there are good friends I know in face to face relationships. But I am thankful for this medium, and for having met you, L.L., for so long thinking you were a guy :) but later realizing clearly when seeing your blog that that is not the case. And then Deb and I getting to meet you for that one special hour a few years back. I'll end here.....

8:35 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

One other thing: Great post, Glynn. I like what you said and how you said it. Amen!! Over time we really do get to know people on a deep level whom we've never met.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Jana said... is not exactly Stone Crossings but our love of words is certainly a bridge between the two!

All the best Mr. Wordsmythe!

jana /

6:43 PM  
Anonymous HisFireFly said...

I am increasingly blessed to be able to connect with the assortment of writers and lovers of Christ that wander about High Calling Blogs.

They are real. I am real. Our God is real!

6:22 PM  

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