Chatting on the Bleeding Edge

[Communication] is not as common or as
practiced as I once believed…we need weapons
in the war against disconnection
and misinterpretation.
-Me, Fantasy Contact
and Real Communication (2011)

The befuddled ranting of a Philadelphia Court Judge (in front of me and my patient) inspired the article quoted above. Today I am inspired by much more positive things, which you, dear readers, deserve credit for.

First, the Pinterest Site from the last article was very well received and followed by a nifty psyche magazine, to boot. Feel free to follow there if you are more visually attuned. Second, the site here has reached a monthly viewership nearing 1,000. This is both humbling and awe-inspiring, but most of all, it fills me with deep gratitude to you all. Third, my Twitter following has increased to 70. I love this number because it continues to feel intimate, and I try for brevity, intimacy and humor in my Twitter feed.

All this awesome caused me to reflect on the commitment I made to increase the level of connectivity and communication offered by us here at back in November 2011 when confronted with that shining example of judicial idiocy.

I’m prone to reflection most of the time, but especially so as the site nears its May anniversary. I’m proud of us all for being able to report that most of our communication goals are being met. Though many articles don’t receive direct comments, readers use the email and contact page to connect directly when inspired rather than publicly. Twitter and Facebook comments are always consistent, as is the occasional use of our contact page for insight-sharing, advice or support-seeking. Keep up the dialogue however you feel comfortable. I always love a conversation.

The only area for growth that I find is the Off-Week FYI mailing list, and to that end, I’ve offered a special anniversary prize. But first, let’s talk talking.


Quality Despite Quantity

We just don’t have time to really communicate well.
-Dr. Tim Elmore, Best-Selling Author & Thinker

“Information is more readily available today than ever before,” says Dr. Tim Elmore, author of over 25 books and considered “a thought leader on the emerging generation.”  “Communication, however, is an increasing challenge. Our current culture, full of technology, speed and convenience, makes effective communication even more challenging.” (Elmore, 2013)

Dr. Elmore says it’s about time, and I agree. No matter if it’s text, tweet or email, the beauty of Next-Generation Communication is that it’s fast. Yes, that also means that now hearts can be broken and spelling thrown out the window in the heat of a click, but I consider that evidence of the power of the medium, not of a deficit.

Many do not see it that way, such as Dr. Oliver James’ view of Twitter. “Twittering stems from a lack of identity. It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody would Twitter if they had a strong sense of identity.” (And no one would say “Twittering” if they familiarized themselves with their topic, Doc.) (Grenville-Cleave, 2009)

It is between these factions—these polar ideas—that we hold our digital conversations every day. On one side, the world gets faster and we seek to speak in it, sometimes to it, and find understanding. On the other side we find the erosive reality that “fast” can become “sloppy” and the frightening idea that the quantity of our messaging can dilute our identity.


Communication-Connection Continuum

If you want to change the way people think, you can educate them,
brainwash them, bribe them, drug them. Or you can teach them
a few carefully chosen new words with the power to change the
way you see the world.
– Howard Rheingold, They Have a Word for It

London based Psychologist Bridget Grenville-Cleave, MAPP argues the idea that social media is solely an update of the “facts” of our existence. She asserts that it has grown into something more. Seeking deeper connection, users are “…adapting the medium, using it far more for 1-to-1 or 1-to-many exchange of ideas, information, web links, and dialogue, both public and private.” (Grenville-Cleave, 2009)

In a 2008 focus study Dr. Elmore and his team also uncovered a desire for deeper communication as key to the reason that people are “adapting the medium” of social media. Texting and “Internet (e.g. Facebook)” ranked first and second of the top eight mediums of communication, but further, they found that “this list moves from more personal [communication] to less personal in nature.”

“Attention spans are becoming shorter,” Dr. Elmore says, therefore, “expectations of value are getting greater. Patience for ‘average’ content is becoming slimmer. The demand for customization in a message is growing larger.” (Elmore, 2013)

This hunger for efficient but valuable communication is potent. It may mean that, as a young society, we have begun to yearn for the inter-connectedness that teases on the bleeding edge of our present technology. There will be more rapid communication, but if that is balanced with deeper connection, value should increase not decrease and lead to a potential validation of identity, not its loss.

“This is where the theory of the ‘strength of weak ties’ comes in,” according to Mrs. Grenville-Cleave. This theory, written by Professor Mark Granovetter of Stanford University suggests “weak ties can be more beneficial than strong ones, in some circumstances” because “Our acquaintances move in slightly different social circles to us, and thus have access to different information and resources than our close ties have, and so can provide us with a different kind of support.”

“So having a great many Facebook or Twitter friendships based on weak ties is certainly not to be sniffed at,” Grenville-Cleave concludes, “if anything it makes sense to use social networks to create as many new connections as you can [since]…for someone with a hoped-for possible self that receives some validation on-line, it is possible that this bolsters their attempts to achieve the possible self off-line too.” (Grenville-Cleave, 2009) 


Talking Like Amazons

We can’t rewind we’ve gone to far
Pictures came and broke your heart
Put the blame on VTR
-The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star”

For every person who bemoans that “the art of letter writing is dead!” because of the Internet, I must reassure that yes, so is the art of cave painting because of canvas. Tools are simply tools. Masons use chisels to build houses and Michelangelo used them to make David.

We are still growing to understand the tool of the Internet, but one thing is very clear to me; There must be a bedrock of connection for there to be the deep, valuable communication that we crave at the speed which we need it.

So, welcome to the contest. It’s so very simple. You can WIN A $5 AMAZON GIFT CARD. Just SUBSCRIBE TO THE OFF WEEK FYI mailing list and you will be entered. One random name will be drawn from the new sign ups on May 10, 2013 and they will win it.

Simple, right? Right. The pool will be small, your chance to win will be high, and five bucks is five bucks. Not to mention everyone wins something even better; the chance at more meaningful communication.


Elmore, Tim. (March, 2013) Communicate or Stagnate: Next Generation Communication Technology is changing the way we interact and communicate. Psychology Today. Retrieved from:

Grenville-Cleave, (Bridget. 26 February 2009). Flourishing and Facebook Friends. Positive Psychology News Daily. Retrieved from:

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