About Isolation, Race, Relationships and Friends

The end point of this piece is to say, if you've got one -- support one; if you don't have one -- get one.

Social media is not about being a social society. Social media is about selling you stuff. Getting stuff into your line of sight so you will acquire that stuff. Stuff that gives you a bad feeling, like sometimes thinking outside of our comfort zones is eliminated from your view. Keeping you happy -- to buy stuff.

The extension of that happiness idea is creating a warm and fuzzy cocoon. We find people on social media that are incredibly like us to become an echo chamber.

We are not always right. Acting like we are (feel free to put whatever groups you belong to in here as a form of reality algebra) builds the walls of the echo chamber. Go into a subway station -- the smooth tiled walls allow sound to reverberate. Removing any blemishes from the walls purifies the sound. Removing people who challenge your view purifies your message.

Life outside the subway station is real -- surfaces are not smooth. Sounds bounce 100 different ways coming back garbled or sometimes better. The people who return your message might be friends or total strangers (potential friends).

Those different messages are bridges to break out of the cocoon. In social media terms you can expand your range of relationships. "Why'd that person come back to me with that off-the-wall response?" Look them up a little more, if they reveal more, you see how different (or similar) you are to them.

In real life it is harder. Time constraints and our own busy-ness (to get back on social media) limit the human relationships of the real world. It is a hassle to be out in the real world -- so why bother? You can have the customized human experience of the cocoon built for you.

Problem is, there are real people really hurting. Turn on our customized media and we see what might spin into a race war over men being killed and the accused walking away. No matter what sources of media you are using, we are seeing it.

Time to come out of our social media subway stations and arrive into reality.

It seems like the statement to find out if someone is a racist is to hear the words: "Some of my best friends are..."

You might notice I am a white guy. I am an a-rhythmic-de-syncopator, the one guy in a crowd of 100,000 that cannot keep a beat. A buddy of mine is KC. I have known him for about a decade. He is African-American. He's invited me to his church's men's fellowship on the first of the month Saturday mornings. I have gone a couple of times. Not because I am a Baptist -- but because this is what my friend is into.

Lately, KC's email message about Saturday mornings have been pushed back in favor of other family issues.

The last couple of weeks have not been good ones for race relations.

I found myself awake at 7:15 Saturday morning with a start. I went to bed really early that morning (lots of folks with viruses on PCs I am trying to fix) so there was no real legit reason to be awake.

I thought about national issues. I thought about die-ins. I thought about social media isolation. I thought about what are relationships and friendships.

I thought about what time does fellowship thing starts.

I got presentable and got there at 8 a.m. as they were gathering.

About 60 or so guys are in the room. I was one of about five or six white guys. My only discomforts were trying to remember guys' names (because I am a space cadet) and not screwing up the singing (the a-rhythmic-de-syncopator thing).

No one can ask for a more welcoming group. (That needs to be underlined in the course of race relations.) This is the open door.

The focus of the fellowship was relationships. (I guess some Holy Spirit was whispering in my ear.) A number of the guys testified to what was going wrong and right in their worlds. They talked about their evolving relationships with society, their families, and most importantly Jesus.

One of the guys talking said being friends is about hanging out. It is about being there.

Some of my best friends are...

OK -- prove it. Do you know where your friends worship? If you don't know, find out.

I realize not everyone believes in God, but even Atheists gather for fellowship. Our races are so segregated, ask where they go and ask if they would mind if you attended. You might stick out, but it might be worth a chance.

I am not saying join their church or mosque or temple, but reaching out because this is what your friend is involved in is what friends do.

Using a House of God might bridge some tensions. So if you do not have friends across the racial lines, find a church or mosque or temple and check it out. It is as good an environment as any to find new friends.

This country needs to build some infrastructure out of something stronger than cement.