– Fredrick Buechner, on memoirs
Every now and again I realize how public my life has become. Today was one of those days. I send out my words to an unfiltered audience not just through this blog and mechanisms like Facebook and Twitter, but also using more intrusive means like speaking at churches or classes, making phone calls, sending email. Today a set of resource reviews went out to 5000 people; I wrote and edited them and signed them with my name.
But I also sent out what's known in missions parlance as a prayer letter. More than anything else, this responsibility has required me to be more transparent than most people are. There's a level of personal accountability built into my very job. I've got these witnesses.
Hitting a glitch in the process I'm using meant I had to push send on each of the 400+ emails. I'm not complaining about the work. Unlike so many people, I enjoy writing newsletters - and the delivery is much easier than it was in the fold-stuff-and-slap era of paper and stamps. I only do a handful that way, now. But I realized as I was sending those emails one by one that I don't know very many of the people on the other end. Some of them I met (or didn't meet) when I lectured at their Perspectives classes. They checked a box on a form to get my letters along with whatever else I may have been offering at the time. Others I may have known personally at some point but don't know if they still have much interest in hearing about my life and work. Do they really want to get these letters?
Perhaps it's time to switch over to some kind of email service that allows people to unsubscribe without having to go through me. I've mentioned that before without taking action on it!
On the other hand, I'm a big fan of weak ties. It's nice to have an easy way to stay "sort-of-in-touch" with people who share some interests, values, or experiences. As I worked my way down the list today, I remembered good times with people I haven't thought about in some time. I smiled to think of them, and wondered what they are up to. They've got the inside scoop on me, now. Maybe some will write back. I'm not looking for a one-to-one ratio, but I do like to hear from people.
Before I send another newsletter, I think I'll set a goal to respond to a dozen of those I've received from others. Let them know I'm still glad to be on their list.
See also: Personal Newsletters - All about Me or Something Good for You?