Every other Thursday, I moderate a Twitter chat, focused on the Next Generation Science Standards. The chat started a number of years ago, when the standards were first being designed, and it continues to this day. I build questions for the chat along with an excellent co-moderator, who has taught me a tremendous amount about leading and learning in our time working together.
During this past week’s chat, one of the participants (@ehoffman) joined by tweeting, “First time chatter,” which made me think of the staple greeting on radio shows, “Long-time listener. First time caller.” She totally meant that, by the way, and it was funny how it made me recall the many times when I had been listening to the radio in the car, that I had heard that phrase (Car Talk, in particular, was a show where almost everybody seemed to say that. . .how many first-time callers can there be?).
What’s so interesting about that greeting is it almost seems to be an apology. It is almost like the person calling needs the host to know that they love the show, and that though they haven’t called in yet, they have been with the host through thick and thin.
There are two sides to this approach. On the plus side, it showcases the tremendous value to letting others know we have been with them through everything. We all need support to get through the tough times (and sometimes even the good times). Even if we aren’t physically “there,” we are “there” emotionally, and it can be great to just let others know that this is the case.
On the other hand, I wonder about the “need” to let others know we’re with them. Why do we feel we have to do that in order to reach out in the first place? Do we need to apologize or ask for understanding for why we haven’t reached out previously? Does that seem to showcase that we’ve done something wrong when, in all honesty, the person might not have even thought about it or us? There are times when we need to apologize for our actions (or lack thereof), but as a whole, we tend to be a very apologetic society, sometimes, without needing to be so.
There isn’t a right/wrong aspect here. Simply an interesting saying that made me reflect on how sometimes what we do can be interpreted in multiple ways. And just like “Long-Time Listener. First-Time Caller” there is nothing wrong, or right, about that.