A Few Thoughts About Grape, err, Great Encounters

I have recently had a staggering revelation. Nearly all of the people that I have become close to over the past couple of years were once nothing more than pictures and words. Even more amazing is the fact that many if not most of my best guests on Grape Encounters got there because of contacts made via some sort of electronic medium. They were discovered or located through facebook or google or some similar way. I have enjoyed having the ability to sift through blogs, profiles, pictures and postings to learn a great deal about people who would later become friends or featured guests.

“Getting to know you” in this age often begins with chance discoveries that we could not have imagined. I remember the first time that someone that I did not know sent me a friend request on facebook. It was a woman in Georgia. I sent her a note asking, “Do I know you?” She sent me a note back explaining that she was trying to make new friends with people she found interesting. She found me using the six or less degrees of separation method… sifting through friends of friends of friends. I accepted the friend request and though she and I exchange posts, the really cool outcome of this chance encounter is the fact that I connected her with a real flesh and blood friend who had moved to her neck of the woods and they became fast friends… meeting to enjoy real human contact.

Today I have hundreds of “friends” that have wandered into my safe little cyber world. Often, something will appear on my wall that captures my attention and communication begins. A minute or two on the phone can be very revealing and I can quickly determine whether or not that person should be upgraded to “flesh and blood.”

Anyway, the exciting part is the more Grape Encounters finds its way around the internet or reaches people the old fashioned way, the more people we connect with… sometimes in very unexpected ways. We may show up on google as a link to someone who liked or disliked what we put out there–and while I tend to prefer the likes, the dislikes can be rewarding too because I recognize that I am often too close to the subject and overlook things that might be significant. In the end, we use all that communication as a barometer that helps us emphasize things that are hitting home and tweak things that miss the mark. Our growing network of friends and followers gives us instant feedback that people who worked in radio didn’t have before. It’s a wonderful thing indeed. One of my very favorite people these days is someone who did not get the warm fuzzies from a show that had hoped to deliver that response. We began communicating a bit so that I could better understand the objection. The points had merit and we now communicate in just about every way available to us, sharing ideas and insights that make us better.

Today, the web we have woven, both intentionally and unintentionally acts like a net that seems to catch and endless number of individuals eager to share what they know. Our access to people that would have been difficult to contact a few years ago is now uncanny. I regularly send messages via email or facebook to facinating people that help us raise the bar each week. Every day brings more and more great encounters.

I’ve just started writing this blog and I have to admit that it came about with great reluctance. I recognize that our show is better when presented in multiple dimensions… the spoken word, pictures, the written word and in person. I plan on getting a handle on this blogging thing so be patient with me. I don’t know all the ropes quite yet but I am learning a lot from a real pro who dishes out healthy doses of wisdom online each week and lets it do its magic on complete strangers who will spread the word.

The term “friends with benefits” has come to mean something a little sordid. But the friends we have made by making Grape Encounters more accessible have benefited us in ways too numerous to enumerate. We love these very wholesome encounters. They are endlessly satisfying!

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