Thinking Out Loud

January 3, 2019

Worlds Colliding

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 10:43 am

There’s a classic Seinfeld episode where the character of George, played by Jason Alexander, is concerned that people he knows from one context are invading an entirely separate context. “Worlds Are Colliding!” he announces to anyone who might care.

Seinfeld was a big hit, but was produced at a time when our social media was unknown. Today, I wonder the degree to which George would obtain separate accounts for his “worlds.”

You can imagine my surprise when Leonard, a cousin I hadn’t seen in nearly six years showed up at my workplace. When I say “at my workplace,” I literally mean at my desk. He told the receptionist that I was expecting him and without stopping, pointed down a hallway and said, “His office is this way, right?” to which she could do no more than nod.

I was in a conversation with Jake, who manages our marketing about why our East Coast sales are down and Leonard, without even introducing himself, proceeded to tell Jake that all our marketing in New England is being placed in the wrong media. Jake extended his hand and said, “And you are???” but Leonard just kept talking. Embarrassment doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling…

…That evening, Brian, who plays bass guitar on our church worship team unexpectedly walked into our condo tenants’ association meeting and sat next to me with a big grin. The meeting isn’t restricted to voting members so Brian was wearing a name tag that simply said “Visitor.”

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

He said that I had posted online that I was off to a residents’ meeting in our building and since I had told the world what I was doing, I seemed to be asking for company. He even told the association’s Vice President at the door that I had invited him. I like Brian and I would be willing to go for coffee at a moment’s notice, but I didn’t see what he was going to get out of our 45-minute discussion to change two of our bylaws and discuss parking problems. When we reached the latter, his hand suddenly shot up and he started describing the parking problems at his building on the other side of town.

Like Seinfeld‘s George, I was succeeding in keeping my worlds separate. But suddenly the walls were crumbling. In the case of Leonard, I had to use some tough love. My workplace isn’t a family reunion. In the case of Brian, I tackled the problem at the opposite end and got our condo Vice President to be a little more restrictive when random visitors show up at meetings.

For my part, I tried to analyze how much of my life I was sharing with whom. Should my cousins know where I work? Certainly. Why not? Should they know we have marketing issues along the Atlantic seaboard? No. Not at all. Should my worship team members know I’m the Treasurer of our condo board? Hopefully it sets an example of how we should be involved in our communities; how we need to be salt and light. Should they show up at business meetings? No. That’s ridiculous.

Fortunately some of my social media interactions take place on closed pages. But I also believe in transparency. I don’t want to have to block certain people from certain parts of my world. I don’t want to be perceived as having secrets.

But Leonard, I swear if you ever start giving marketing advice to my boss again, I will give him my blessing to call security. And Brian, next time you want to drop over, let’s make it my living room instead of the common area meeting room, okay?

► So how about you? Has social media meant that worlds that might have previously had a buffer zone of separation are now open-access to everyone? Do you have trouble keeping your life compartmentalized? Or is this not necessarily a priority objective?


March 18, 2011


Wednesday night we had dinner with a guy who lives, breathes, eats and sleeps hockey.  His sons play and he played professionally overseas for several years.  It’s (almost) all he talks about.  Fortunately, there’s been a hockey story making the evening news this week up here in Canada — involving the serious body check resulting in a head injury to a Montreal NHL player — and I was able to chime in on two occasions, but mostly I just listened.

Yesterday, I had lunch with someone whose position on Wal-Mart is the exact opposite of our own.  (I know it sounds like we eat out a lot, and believe me, we don’t.)   For us, the issues are primarily the whole balance of trade thing, especially as it affects the U.S., and the issue of cheaply made goods simply breaking down.  But she went past the “sweat shops” argument and stated that Wal-Mart suppliers are raising the quality of life for workers overseas, citing one particular place where factory staff who formerly had to walk to work were able to buy bicycles and were saving for mopeds.

I was so impressed by the passion that both these people had for their subjects even though (a) in the former case I knew nothing about hockey and (b) in the second case I still disagree somewhat.

So what are you passionate about?

Usually I don’t repeat material here that isn’t at least a year old, but I want to repeat three questions that I ran here back in April of last year.  Consider:

  1. What’s the first thing you think about when you get up in the morning? — In Pat Robertson’s original autobiography, Shout it from the Housetops — before he became a target of both Christians and non-Christians for outrageous statements to the media — he was a local church pastor who had a church board member trying to make the point that Robertson was more obsessed with starting a Christian television network than he was with leading a church congregation.   (He jokingly added, “The first thing I think about is wishing you [the church board member] would get saved…”)    Still, regardless of what you think of Pat  — and I won’t post comments on that subject — it’s still a good question to address. What drives you from the moment your feet hit the floor?
  2. What do you talk about when it’s your chance to control the conversation? — I owe a debt to a Christian & Missionary Alliance young adults pastor for this one, but I can’t remember if it was Mike Wilkins or Bill McAlpine.   Analyze yourself and others to see to what people turn their attention when the conversation reaches a “redirect” point.   “Out of the abundance of the heart… “  “Whatever is in your heart determines what you say…”  (NLT version of Matthew 12:34) “It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words.”  (Same vs., The Message) It’s your chance to steer the direction of the discussion for the next few moments:  Where are you going to take it?
  3. What do you want your life to be remembered for? —  Everyone of us is writing a story, leaving a legacy.   If you could get a few paragraphs in Wikipedia after you’re gone, how would those sentences read?  If you could script your own funeral, how would you fill that time, talking about yourself in the third person?  (i.e. “He was so very concerned about…  and so totally passionate about…)  Would that be an honest appraisal of what people see on a day-to-day basis?

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