Relationships in a World of Individualism

  • rWorld

    The rWorld is about more than Dale Kuehne's book Sex and the iWorld.
    The rWorld is a New England based, non-profit (in formation), that is composed of a growing number of people and organizations from many faith and ideological backgrounds worldwide. We believe that much of the fulfillment for which women and men are looking can be found by enhancing the quality of our relationships. While the individual freedom we enjoy in the West is a gift, the love and intimacy for which humans yearn will not be found in self-serving materialism or hedonism, but in a variety of healthy relationships.

    Contact us if you'd like get involved:

  • Dale Kuehne

    Sex & the iWorld

    Professor of Politics and The Richard L. Bready Chair for Ethics, Economics, and the Common Good at Saint Anselm College, Manchester, NH.

    In this blog I'm highlighting signposts of the world in which we presently reside as a means of helping promote a civil, and meaningful dialogue about what kind of world in which we wish to live. I am particularly interested in exploring how might we reconcile the individual good and the common good, and where reconciliation isn’t possible, which should take precedence and why.

    I also blog at

    [Content Caution]

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rLiving 1: Tweeting to Speaking [Directness]

Posted by Simon on November 30, 2010

I (Simon) follow 558 people on Twitter and I’m being followed by 527 as of today. One followee/follower is @odguru, as I’d known her for a few weeks. When I clicked on her profile back in April I found out that she’s Christy and that ‘od’ in odguru is Organizational Development. Along with a lot of other people, we crossed paths during a weekly tweet chat, #lrnchat, about all things learning. And one day we spoke on the phone!

Our connection up until that day was a few mutual retweets and responses during those weekly 90 minutes. Then Christy said something in a public tweet to me, right at the end of one session that particularly piqued my interest. So I sent a DM (Direct Message) to her:

The subsequent phone call from Christy the following day changed, or maybe even created, a relationship.

Relational Proximity Dimension #1 is “Directness”. My relationship with someone is better and healthier the less mediated it is. It can be mediated by technology or other people, which affects our ability to communicate fully. It can also be mediated, even when face to face, by dishonesty and fakeness: there’s a real me and a real you, any fronts we put up reduces directness.

That day my relationship with Christy grew significantly because we went from tweeting, and not very often at that, to speaking on the phone. The directness of voice-to-voice – hearing the multi-dimensionality of her voice, her tone, her enthusiasm – made her more of a person in my life than before. I’d say, in fact, that before that day there was no relationship. I only knew a few of @odguru’s thoughts and ideas (140 char at a time). I knew from the content that she was very smart and experienced. And I appreciated when she RT’d or responded to my tweets. But now I can say I know Christy Pettit. A teeny bit, anyway. And I’m delighted to know her! We had a really interesting and engaging conversation:

Our relationship also increased in Multiplexity (Dimension #3, which is essentially is about knowledge) because we connected in a different context from #lrnchat, and talked about more than just the #lrnchat question.

This may all seem a little dry and even obvious, but think about any relationship you have, and how “direct” it is, then consider if the lack of directness explains the nature of the relationship, good or bad. Of course I can’t possibly, and don’t want to, deepen my relationship with all 558 people I’m following, but with any I do then I need to get closer than a tweet.

[Click here for the introduction to this series and the five dimensions of Relational Proximity.]


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