… as face to face interaction.

That’s not to say I’m jumping on any anti-Twitter bandwagons.  No, I’m not a big fan of using Twitter (or any other social networking media, for that matter) to randomly shout every bit of personal minutiae into the darkness (although, I must say, sometimes it is nice to catch up on the mundane parts of far-away friends’ lives). I think platforms like Twitter can be very useful for collaboration, and even building friendships. Eugene Cho hosted a  thoughtful dialogue about Twitter, faith and church life a little while back.

As much as I believe Twitter can be a good thing (although it’s killing my ability to write longer thoughts!), I don’t think it can ever replace face to face interaction.

Last Saturday, our family went to the San Diego Childrens Book Festival (which was lots of fun, by the way!).  Our daughter was really excited to meet the illustrator from the Fancy Nancy series, Robin Preiss Glasser, who was signing autographs at the Book Festival.  Our daughter is a little shy, so she practiced what she would say to Robin while waiting in line.  However, even after practicing, she was still too shy to say much to Robin when she was finally able to meet her in person.

This is where face to face interaction is irreplaceable: Robin was signing our daughter’s book and seemed to perceive that there was more she wanted to say.  So Robin had our daughter come around to the other side of the author’s table, asked a lot of great questions and took time to listen to her.  At the end, Robin gave her a big hug and took a great photograph with her.  My wife and I were so grateful for Robin’s perceptive, thoughtful interaction with our daughter.

This kind of empathy and perception is really difficult to emulate in a purely online conversation.  How many of us have misread the intent behind comments in the blogosphere because we couldn’t read non-verbal cues on our screen?