the weblog of Alan Knox

The thin connections of social media

Posted by on Sep 6, 2012 in blog links, community | 4 comments

The thin connections of social media

My son is currently taking an English course at a local community college. He is working on his first paper, which is a response to several essays that he had to read on the topic of technology and its effect on communication, relationships, etc. I’ve enjoyed talking with him about this, and I’m excited about the direction that he wants to take this paper.

Then, last night, I read a post from Dave Black on a similar topic. (I cannot link directly to Dave’s post, but you can read it on his blog dated Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 7:18 p.m.)

In his post, he responds to another blogger who refers to the difference between “thin connections” and “thick connections.” This is what Dave writes:

Personally, I have benefited tremendously from the internet, and not merely because of the outlet it provides for my saunterings. I’ve enjoyed the “thin connections” it offers. You go online, visit your favorite blogs, and read an interest post or two. No hardship, and the results are often gratifying and edifying. But my greatest satisfaction comes from those “thick conversations” one simply cannot find on the internet, try though one might… I have examined many thousands of tweets and blog posts but I do not really expect to get to “know” their authors online, congenial as they may appear to be. I have no illusions as to the value of my own blog as a serious conversation partner either. But taking all such limitations into account, the fact remains that social media are conversations of a sort, and I for one am very grateful for every conversation partner God brings my way.

In many ways, this blog and my use of social media (Facebook and Twitter especially) have paralleled this course. These various outlets not only allow for “thin connections” online, but they also provide an avenue for developing or strengthening “thick connections” with people who I know “in real life.”

I know there are many discussions going on now about the benefits and detriments of online relationships and communications. For some people, “thin connections” are all that is available for now. I think they should grow in those relationships as much as possible while also looking for opportunities to build face-to-face “thick connections” that happen when we share our “real life” with one another.


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 9-6-2012


    BTW, here’s a link to the specific post.

  2. 9-6-2012

    Thank you for this post Alan! I have been giving considerable thought to this subject for the last few months. I like the reference to thin and thick connections. I have found this to be how it is as well. Thin connections seem to be the norm on social media and in real life thick connections can be established. I am thankful for both because the Holy Spirit has used both to reveal Christ to me. It is more about being lead by the Spirit than it is if social media is bad. Often we can look at things like social media and judge it as good or bad instead of taking it to Christ and seeing if He is leading us in what we are doing. Thank you so much for your post and I look fwd to meeting you sometime!

  3. 9-6-2012

    Alan, I agree with both David and you on your assessment on the subject of social media. I’ve valued both the thin and thick connections. Like any other interest we must maintain the “fruit of self-control,” or we may find ourselves bordering on the edge of addiction. Yes, I believe even Facebook, can become an addiction. I love the Greek language and always enjoy your take, as well as Dave Black’s. I used his book for my seminary studies, his influence was immense, as well as his recommended references for further study.

  4. 9-7-2012


    hmmm… I didn’t think that would work when he updated his page, but apparently it does. I learned something new. 🙂


    I love that you said, “[I]n real life thick connections can be established.” That statement points out the possibility of thick connections. I think one of the reasons that many people prefer the “thin connections” of online relationships is that they do not have any “thick connections” in real life.


    Wow… I’m so glad that you brought up books in this context. Books and articles are another great example of “thin connections,” and perhaps much thinner than many online relationships and connections. But, I’ve heard some people talk about their favorite authors as if they were very best of friends.