This is a great idea which I first ran into here at Patheos, but have also seen rolling out across the internet. The idea is that you have a face to face chat with someone you don’t normally talk to that way. Internet video chat is a fine way of doing this, so distance is no object.
Talking in person changes things. It’s not so abstract as internet exchanges tend to be, it’s slower, and there are often more cats involved. I am much less self conscious when I’m typing, I prefer not to have to pay attention to body language etc, so doing anything real time is a lot more involved for me.
Last week I had a really interesting chat with Naomi, who has written about this and other Pagan Tea Time exchanges here. I’ll do my best not to duplicate it too much!
We neither of us came to the conversation with any planned topics or things we wanted to ask, so it just wandered around. I like that, as a general approach. I do interviews now and then, where people have clearly thought about what they want to ask. Sometimes, when they’ve done their research and we’re on the same wavelength, that works really well. (Pausing to mention Christopher Blackwell.) Sometimes it can feel like swimming the wrong away against a tide (naming no names) when what seems important to them makes little or no sense to me. I like conversations that evolve, and range about randomly, and go unexpected places, and we did a lot of that. I like being surprised, as a general approach to life, so there not being a grand plan often suits me well.
If we’d been all organised, there would probably have been more intent, and more poking about to get specific information on which to base a blog. Naomi is a really interesting person, I’ve been following her blogs for some time now. She has a different outlook on Druidry to me, is exploring ADF teachings and re-con, and is a vocal advocate for disability rights. We could have picked out some places of difference or overlap and prodded them to extract raw material. It would have been a workish and deliberate sort of process. I’m glad we didn’t. We shared cat stories. Mine always likes to show his bottom to people who Skype. I have a lot more sense of Naomi as a person, rather than just as a blogger, and while that’s tricky to pin down in words, I have a very keen sense of it as a good thing.
Slowed down, face to face, real time with no agenda, communications between people are a good thing. We need more of that, and less of the shouting of opinions and getting grumpy which so often happens online. Have a Pagan Tea Time with someone. If you don’t have any Pagans, have a cup of tea with someone. Maybe in person. Talk about stuff. It’s revolutionary and also incredibly retro, and strangely like having a real life!
Nimue Brown was featured in the Patheos Public Square discussion on the ethics of drug use this month — check it out!