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Communicating in real time

by Linda Bloom
May 18, 2012

Some people use social media to let it hang out, warts and all.

In the case of the Rev. Scott Carnes, it’s brain surgery and all.

That meant tweets sent from his hospital bed; iPhone photos of an MRI scan and the back of his scarred, shaved head posted on Facebook; a short video of groggy, post-op commentary shot immediately after a second surgery and later uploaded to his blog.

It’s all part of his philosophy that, at its core, ministry is about relationships – both with other people and with God.

He uses social media and other online tools as ministry aids – successfully, in my opinion. I’ve written about that in a story posted today.

Scott and I met through the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, on which he recently finished eight years as a board member. As a Facebook friend who also follows him on Twitter, I’ve admired the matter-of-fact way he has reported on his medical journey and, like others, was rooting for his recovery. Sometimes, he sounds like an excited computer geek rather than a patient when he marvels over how the doctors can look inside his head.

In other posts, he is candid about his deep love for his wife, Carrie. “I never imagined finding a relationship that would fuel my spirit the way my marriage has,” he wrote.

Everything is linked to his faith. In “Joy in Ritual,” a May 11 post on the “Scott & Carrie’s Musings” blog, he compares the difficulty of disrupted household routines because of illness to the difficulty of establishing a regular prayer life.

I admit to being baffled by the idea that Facebook can be worth billions of dollars and agree that Twitter can be vastly overrated. But the extensive and often unintended ways that people can connect through the internet, consequently developing or redeveloping relationships, are hard to dispute.

Scott gave me an example of one such connection. His wife’s twin sister, Katie, a real estate agent in St. Louis, took an elementary school friend and her boyfriend out to see some properties. The former classmates had not been in touch much, so her sister was surprised to learn that the couple had picked up on “Scott & Carrie’s Musings” through Facebook and were immersed in the medical drama.

“She told Katie that it’s like a soap opera and they’ll call each other when there is a new post up,” he reported.