Did this weekend REALLY just happen???

perspective 2

By Kenneth Justice

~ “I was homeless for twenty years…but I’m slowly getting my life back on track” the man with two toy poodles said

~ WOW! This weekend was the beginning of the U.S. portion of my Drinking in the Culture Tour in which I’m meeting with bloggers and fellow readers all across the Western World…..and the only word that comes to mind is….wow!

To say I was nervous would be an understatement and in many ways I felt like a kid who was on a blind date all weekend; not knowing what to expect, what to talk about, or where this adventure would lead me.

For the past year I’ve kept asking myself the question; what kind of connections do social networks and the blogging world really allow us to make?

—) So many people have had bad experiences with social networks

—) sites like Facebook have been used by people to spread malicious gossip and slander

—) even though so many new people join Facebook every day….a lot of people are quitting it because of bad experiences

….And so this weekend was the first step in allowing me to find the answers; to truly learn about the connections I’ve made via my blogging over the past year.

The first blogger I met stopped by Café Intermezzo Saturday morning and when she came in…..it honestly felt like she was someone I’d known for a long time…as though she was one of my relatives who were a part of my family; Dewey Decimals Butler is the screen name for the blog she writes at and I couldn’t believe how ‘normal’ and ‘easy’ our conversation felt (I forget to ask her for permission as to whether she wanted me to mention her real name or not)

This young woman is someone I had never met in person before…..yet I felt like I knew her…it felt like we’d been talking for a long time already; because of course we have been talking via the blogging world throughout the past year.

I don’t know if everyone down here in Atlanta has the whole ‘southern hospitality charm’ or that sexy southern accent that she had; but DeweyDecimal was an absolute delight to meet and talk with; Married with a couple children, she is a high school literature teacher and at only 31 years old she has experienced so many different facets of life, both good and some very bad (but the bad is for her to write about one day publicly, not me) that it’s no wonder as to why she enjoys writing… because she has something to say.

Perhaps that is what separates bloggers from the average person who merely makes little post onto Facebook about what kind of cake they ate earlier in the day; perhaps blogging attracts the kind of writers who have really lived life. Men and women who’ve experienced tragedy, ecstasy, or a little of both; and now they want to truly talk about it.

As the weekend progressed and I met other fellow bloggers like Molly who writes at mollytopia.com, I ended up hanging out at five different café’s and coffee shops and was blown away at how many people were interested in sitting around to talk about life.

—-) I met a guy who was homeless for nearly 20 years (his story will come up in later articles)

—-) I met the owner of Café Intermezzo who’s journey as a café owner is massive enough to fill an entire book as it includes his life living in Europe, and spans through cities like Vienna, Berlin, Tucson, Chicago, Minneapolis, and now Atlanta

—) I met Molly who chronicles her fascinating life as a single mother and also of her childhood in the circus

—) I met Hardcore Christians, moderate Christians, and atheists as well.

This was merely the first weekend trip on my 25 city tour of the United States and already I have enough material for hundreds of pages……and what stands out to me the most is that people want to connect. It’s undeniable, why would people come to visit me; a coffee house bum from the Midwest…except that there is an unquenchable desire that burns in our hearts to connect with our fellow creatures.

We are social creatures,

—-) We love sharing stories

—-) We love interacting and connecting with people from different walks of life

—-) We enjoy the dynamics of a discussion

What made this weekend so fascinating to me…so powerful in many different ways; is that it reinforced my belief that as much as the Internet is an awesome tool….it can never replace the true nature of face-to-face conversations. Being able to hang out with DeweyDecimal for nearly four hours (yes she hung out with us at Café Intermezzo all morning!) reminded me of how much I enjoy seeing people’s faces;

—-) The Internet can’t imitate our facial expressions

—-) The Internet can’t replicate our accents

—-) The Internet can’t duplicate the feel of sitting right next to that person at a coffee shop

Until I met DeweyDecimal in person, it had never dawned on me that she had the cool Atlanta accent that all the women down here have. I guess that reading her blog the times I have made me think of her more as speaking like a character out of a Jane Austen book, as though she had a stuffy Victorian British accent (because she writes about a LOT of literature and she loves Jane Austen!)

So meeting her in person filled in many details that the Internet simply can’t produce for us…..

—) I enjoyed seeing the way she scrunched up her cheeks up when she would say something that she knew was funny

—)  I loved how the couple times she dropped a cuss word she said it under her breath as so many polite young women do

—-) I enjoyed seeing the seriousness and righteous anger that screamed through her eyes when she talked about some very personal things from her past

While I’m ever grateful for the fact that it was through the Internet that I’ve met so many of you……I’m also very reticent of the fact that it can never replace connecting with each other in person.

And so while I begin to work on my putting together articles from my trip to Atlanta this weekend, I’m also counting the days till I arrive to Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, St. Louis…and all of the many other cities that are coming up on my year long journey.

I really hope to meet as many of you as I can and that we can share some good stories over a cup of coffee,


Categories: Culture & Society

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79 replies

  1. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Ah, it is easy to sit behind a screen and shotgun blast the masses with our wise ideologies. But when it is all said and done…people do not care…unless, they know how much you care. Coordinated rendezvous of such care may not reach the masses, but they will reach the ones who need it. Sadly, much of social media is cheap communication that does not cost us much at all. It costs to care…

    • Coordinated rendezvous of such care may not reach the masses, but they will reach the ones who need it”

      Very well said.. And your right, obviously I can’t meet with 20,000 people ore more this year; it would simply be impossible. But perhaps in meeting with a small percentage of bloggers and readers it can represent something on a bigger scale in some way, shape, or form 🙂

    • I will be following your coffee/fellowship journey (both which I also happen to enjoy). I mentioned this post in today’s message I entitled “Search the Scriptures” at http://www.asoldiersprogress.com

  3. I love what you are doing. One of the things I like most about your blog and impresses me is how you sit in a coffee shop and strike up conversations with strangers. I cannot imagine being able to do the same thing but to go out and meet fellow bloggers too! What a fantastic thing to be able to do. I write from outside of the US but I can testify to the relationships I have built up with people through blogging and social networking. I have made connections with people so strong that I actually love them as people even though I have never met them. In fact some of them I feel closer to than my own family! I can think of at least four people I’d like to meet one day- such kindred spirits as we have become. I like blogging for the honesty . I can share more openly than with people face to face. I write out into the void and am always surprised and pleased when others connect with something I have shared. I’m so glad your doing this and can’t wait to read more.

    • Its actually much easier than you would think to talk to people at coffee shops. At Café Intermezzo yesterday there was a mother and her 20-something daughter sitting next to me and I think I made a comment to them at how beautiful it was at the café and before I knew it we were talking for quite a bit 🙂

    • I am a person who talks to people. I’m smiley so people tend to talk to me…..it’s just the thought of it I guess. Perhaps I should give it a try. What do you do? Do you just sit with your coffee? do you have a book or computer? How does it work?

  4. It was awesome catching up with you, thanks so much. I didn’t think my dialect was so strong, but I suppose I didn’t expect you to sound so Mid-Western, either. Funny how that works.
    And I’ll be honest, when I realized we were sitting with the owner/CEO of Cafe Intermezzo, I felt like a badass. But then I found he’s like that with everyone. My friend who used to work there called him by first name and knew him, too. I love people like that.
    Oh, and I don’t know if you saw the people at the table behind us. I think a guy might have been meeting his girlfriend’s mother for the first time. He pulled out both their chairs and gave mom a rose. I’ve never seen it go that far, but it was impressive to say the least. I must have told 3 three friends that we need to go back.
    Thanks again for the meet up, and I know the rest of your tour will be just as exciting.

    • Yea I saw the guy with the rose, I thought it was SO cute. Of all the things you said yesterday one of the things that made me smile the most was, “I didn’t know how you hang out at coffee shops for so long, but gosh, we’ve been here for four hours and now I understand” (my paraphrase)…. That’s the amazing thing about hanging out with people at café’s and such; is when the conversation is good time seems to be frozen and you don’t realize the minutes and hours passing by…..

      Dude, I AM SO GLAD you were the first ‘official’ blogger I met on the trip! You were totally cool! (sorry you didn’t get to meet Molly, she is a total blast and in real life she is exactly the way she sounds via her blog)

    • Glad you saw that guy. He was working the Gentleman Skillz. Happy to kick off a great tour!

  5. That’s great Kenneth — lead a good life — have a great time! Life is short.
    ~ Eric

  6. “For the past year I’ve kept asking myself the question; what kind of connections do social networks and the blogging world really allow us to make?”

    Indeed…my question, too. They are easy to make and can be ubiquitous. But, like a spider web, there is often little substance. It is easy to fool oneself into thinking they are the real thing. They are not. Too much is missing.

    • “it is easy to fool oneself into thinking they are the real thing”

      Jim, I totally agree with you…… its easy to think they are something that they are not.

  7. Wow! 🙂 You should write a book about your tour someday… I would definitely read it! ^^

  8. I see that you will be in cities surrounding Ohio. Any chance you just might stop somewhere in southern Ohio (hint, hint) 😀

  9. I LOVE this project. For real connections to be made from the social network. Inspired. And for you to be such a capable conversationalist. Of course people want to meet up with you, you dag (not an insult from an Australian). Waiting to read the book.

    • Fatmaphat,

      Well a book is obviously into the works, but it is far down the line at the moment, right now just trying to get through each day of my journey :0)

  10. You stated what I always believed, face-to-face is something we need and want just so happens to take less time doing it online (read, meet more in less time)
    I am amazed and smiling. And admiring your journey. I honestly loving it and glad to be able to read all about it.
    Cheers on the coffee.

    • Ranting Crow,

      Thank you so much, I know its not the same as going on a journey for oneself, but I’m trying to do my best to relay the information related to my trips for those who are reading 🙂

  11. You are having a blast. Good for you. The expressions, antics, accents, ect are something that just can’t be put on paper. Stay safe!

  12. We may find all sorts of gadgets, software & accessories to ‘make communication easier’ but there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. It is the key to being ‘successful in just about anything we do.

    Some discover that; some don’t.

    Keep telling people that & showing them how & why it makes a real difference & I don’t think you can go far wrong 🙂

    Take care ….

  13. If you ever come to Milwaukee I will gladly buy you a coffee! This idea of yours is inspiring! I love it!

  14. Amazing. I’m starting to get to know your blog and I really like it. I rarely read blogs and am usually here just for photography, but there are some……… 🙂

  15. Must have been a pleasant surprise to meet a blogger in real life, a character from mind came alive and laughed too. Good Wishes 🙂

  16. Online Dating: you can message all you like, but face to face is the “real thing.” Glad it went well.

    By the end of the year when you each this neck of the woods, you will be jaded, have high expectations, and doing it because you have to. Sob sob.


    • Paul, you’re cracking me up this morning; no, by the time I make it to London I will be just as joyful as I am today….. staying joyful is the only way to make it through this life 🙂

  17. It was so great to meet you!! I loved learning about parts of your world I didn’t know anything about : ). You are super cool and I can’t wait to see you on the next tour!! XO

  18. It was a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. The formerly homeless man had some good stories. Unfortunately, only so much can make it into one conversation. The next time an *official blogger* comes to a coffe shop with free parking, I will think about stopping by.

    • Thank you! It was nice to meet you, and yea, the formerly homeless guy and I had been talking for nearly an hour and had led quite a life! According to him he had been awarded three purple hearts in Vietnam and when I get back I was going to see if I could look up his name to verify his story 🙂

    • My side of the story is now up at the blog. It was not written three months ago.

    • I’ve had a look, and I left you a comment… I say to the others… it’s worth checking out 🙂

  19. I’m glad you had fun & interesting weekend. True that “people want to connect” humans desire to express and share their happiness & melancholies. It’s the way you approach and interact others that makes the connection interesting, because not everyone can do what your doing. I’ll imagine your book full of amazing stories about the secrets of human’s connection, relationships, the chain of life. Love to hear all about your surprises.
    Be safe!

  20. You sound like you are having such fun doing this!! When are you coming to Brooklyn:)

  21. I continue to be crazy jealous that you have taken on this tour. While I love talking, writing and socializing, I feel like I am particularly bad at social situations. I’m equally curious to find out if a connection made in the blogging world easily translates into real life.

    I’m happy you had such a great time and I look forward to your coming to Chicago. I apologize in advance for talking too much, too fast and with a dash of social awkwardness. ^_^

    • Ha ha I am looking forward to meeting you too TK! I’m just glad that I at least know of ONE blogger in Chicago 🙂 I still can’t figure out why i know so few bloggers in my hometown city…. but maybe Chicago isn’t big enough to house any other bloggers than ChapterTK 😉

    • You flatter me too much. I can’t believe I am THAT good of a writer/blogger (but I am trying really hard).

      I can think of just one other blogger I know in the Chicago area. Maybe it’s just not a hub of writing. Or, maybe everyone is too busy freezing to death in the wind and cold to bother writing.

  22. “—-) The Internet can’t imitate our facial expressions

    —-) The Internet can’t replicate our accents

    —-) The Internet can’t duplicate the feel of sitting right next to that person at a coffee shop”

    Very true. I like blogging but recently I attended a group I found on meetup.com in my area. There are advantages to really being with people who are open to talking. Besides those that you mentioned, there is another thing I enjoy: laughter.

  23. Congrats, Kenneth! I’m happy for you especially because the first “blind date” went well and you did not give up to the follow meetings.Then I should wait for the end of the year. 🙂

  24. wow Mr. Monk – how awesome the Atlanta part of the tour was – 🙂
    and while there were many things in this post that streamed out with affect – this was my favorite part….whew – nicely said.

    “Perhaps that is what separates bloggers from the average person who merely makes little post onto Facebook about what kind of cake they ate earlier in the day; perhaps blogging attracts the kind of writers who have really lived life. Men and women who’ve experienced tragedy, ecstasy, or a little of both; and now they want to truly talk about it.”

    hope you have a nice rest of the weekend! ~y.

  25. I love blogging because even though more of those I know in real life read me, the vast majority don’t. I enjoy the semi anonymity. However I think meeting someone we “know” online is an interesting idea. If you’re in Ireland feel free to look me up. It would have to be a cup of tea for me, but plenty coffee shops here.

  26. Meeting people from online is an interesting experience, I’ve done it for probably a good 15 years or so to varying extents. Typically, from my experiences, the positive outweighs the negative. It’s more that the news only tends to focus on the negatives that it tends to be seen in a negative light. Of course, it is important to always have an eye to safety in anything you do.

  27. The only tough thing was your post is that I feel like packing a bag and doing exactly what you are doing. Enjoy!

  28. When are you coming to NYC?

  29. Very cool project and good luck on your journey. Enjoy Philly!

  30. Kenneth, love your blog and what you are doing. Yours is the only one I read faithfully and look forward too.

    I love Atlanta and I think you’re in for a real good ride. I spent three months in the inner city working on the streets with the homeless and fell in love with the people and culture.
    Stay safe my friend and keep up the good work…people just love having a listening ear and you are a good listener. ~ Dave

  31. There is a sterility that we are afforded by sitting behind computer keys. We don’t see the pain, hurt or anger caused by key clicks. Thanks for a good read. I am smiling.

  32. Awesome deal Kenneth! It’s awesome to hear that you’re making those connections and that you’re able and willing to share them with us. I am looking forward to hearing more about your adventures. Connections are important and I totally agree, face to face is so much better. As you said, it’s about all the little things that you can’t get from words on a screen. FaceTime or Skype or whatever helps bridge those gaps but only if the technology is working properly. Even then you can’t get a hug or a kiss or whatever the case may be. I hope many more people remember that the human connection is what it’s all about. 🙂

  33. It’s always a pleasure to meet people that are as genuine online as they are in real life. I met some people from an online community I used to hang with (actually, the community was one of the very last BBSes still running– yes it’s still running 15 years later– a zombie relic of the past). Some were like that– even though meeting them always added details I couldn’t get online (much as you’ve said), they were still pretty much the same people. Others, they wound up being different. A few weren’t even 100% authentic even when I met them– they changed their colors again. And a few I never did meet– oh, they would make a 4Channer weep with jealousy, they were so mean and cruel online.

  34. When will you be in St. Louis area? St. Charles (about 30 minutes west of St. Louis)has some great cafes and coffeehouses. Let me know if you need the names. It would be great to meet. And you’re right, we’re all social creatures who love to share stories.

    • April 19th ——————————– St. Louis, MO
      •9:30 AM @ Chronicle Coffee
      •2 PM @ Kaldi’s

      I’m excited, I’ve never been to St Louis before, only drove through it quickly….

  35. Great post! Truly nothing can replace face to face interaction, but at least the web can connect people who would otherwise have been oblivious to the existence each other. I’ve made many great friends this way. Enjoy your tour, I look forward to reading about it

  36. Wandered over from Mollytopia.
    I’ve been lucky to meet about five people I know online in real life, and every meeting was a good time.
    Despite all the trolls and other unpleasantness, I’ve been relatively lucky in the people I associate with here.

    • El Guapo,

      Yea I definitely know what ya mean by trolls….. but so far everyone I’ve met has been pretty cool. Now its on to Chicago and a zillion other cities and I guess I’ll see who I meet next

  37. There is an amazing ease meeting bloggers, not the whole -what to wear, what if I sound like an idiot- insecurities leading up to the meeting, but the interaction starts with a connection that has already happened and moves easily past the -what do we talk about- awkward that happens with strangers. I’ve met three bloggers in the last year, and each time it was comfortable right away. Have fun with your adventure!


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