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Photo: Shahram Sharif (Creative Commons license)

Photo: Shahram Sharif (Creative Commons license)

If you’ve ever passed someone on the street and said “hello,” but the other person didn’t acknowledge your greeting, you’ve experienced something called disconfirmation. According to Julia T. Wood, in Interpersonal Communication: Everyday Encounters, we “confirm” someone with both non-verbal (a nod, a smile) and verbal (a return greeting, or even a friendly grunt) communication. “We disconfirm others at a fundamental level when we don’t acknowledge their existence,” Wood writes.

Most of us have a tolerance, perhaps even an acceptance, of a certain level of disconfirmation in life. We probably don’t give that passing stranger another thought. On the other end of the spectrum, the church member or family member who repeatedly snubs us with the silent treatment might cause us greater angst.

Each advance in communication has brought with it the potential for all of us to be the recipients of more disconfirmation, as well as to add to it. The unreturned phone call … the email that went unacknowledged … and now, the requests to connect and be “Friends” and follow someone back. There are more ways to connect, but there are also more ways to miss each other and to miss opportunities to confirm and affirm each other.

Furthermore, as followers of Christ, who went out of his way to “confirm” those who were disconfirmed by many, I believe there’s a faith dimension to the issue.

Some, like social media expert Chris Brogan, treat social media as legitimate items on the “To Do” list, and schedule them in daily or weekly. I like this idea, because I’m the kind of person who needs structure, methods, and tools to get things done. Still, I’m not as good at managing my communications as I’d like to be, and if I’ve disconfirmed you, I apologize.

What do you think? How do you keep up with social media? And are Christians called to attend to the problem of disconfirmation, at least in our own lives, if not in the world?

trust agents If you are anywhere near Orange County, California tonight you should make every attempt to go hear Chris Brogan speak at Disciples-related Chapman University. Chris is well known in the world of social media and blogging. I read his blog every morning, because I appreciate his short, actionable posts and his analogies. The comments are always a good read too. If you’re interested in going to hear him, you can get a ticket through EventBrite. P.S. It’s FREE!

Chris and Julien Smith just released a book called Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust. I’m about halfway through – it’s interesting. I’m reading it with an eye toward what DisciplesWorld might learn and employ, but also with the Church, churches, and Christians in mind.

Anyone out there going? If so, come back and post your thoughts after the presentation. I’ll be watching the comment stream on Twitter (type #broganoc into the Search box to see Tweets from the event.)

If you’re a resolution-maker, you’re more likely to keep your resolutions if you’re also religious, according to a recent study.  Read DisciplesWorld contributer Cheryl Heckler’s article about religion and resolution-keeping here.

If you’ve resolved to Be a Better Blogger, like me, and my brother Dave, here’s a good catch-all post on Chris Brogan’s blog: 27 Blogging Secrets to Power Your Community (thanks Dave for including this in your “Look What I Found” list).

Or perhaps you are determined to challenge and expand your mental capacity by reading more. A good starting point on the big questions of our time might be Phyllis Tickle’s book, The Great Emergence: How Christianity is Changing and Why. I haven’t read it, but Bob Cornwall has, and he’s given it a thorough and thought-provoking review on his Ponderings on a Faith Journey blog (which he updates regularly).  I did get to hear Tickle give a fascinating talk (for about 45 minutes, extemporaneously) on the book’s main thesis during a luncheon at the Associated Church Press convention back in April.

Lastly, if you’ve vowed to eat better and more responsibly (and who hasn’t, after indulging in a little too much Christmas candy), I recommend reading Laura Miller’s Salon.com review of the book Food Matters:A Guide to Conscious Eating with More Than 75 Recipes, by Mark Bittman. Or just get the book. Miller also mentions her own subscription to Everyday Food magazine as a starting point (you can get a free issue on their website too).

What “goodies” have you found in your quest to keep your own resolutions or improve some aspect of your life? Please share!

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