Phew, well, it’s been much longer since my last post than I anticipated when I posted it! The world has moved on (considering the title and topic of my last post I’m happy to let that comment stand as a pun!) Yet I actually want to go back to what I had originally planned on blogging on that evening before the News of the World scandal went from bubbling to exploding. As you might have noticed if you’ve read any of my posts relating to the recent annual Methodist Conference, here or here, you’ll be aware that the social media interaction at that event, or rather during that event, impressed me hugely. In fact, it didn’t just impress me but had a massive impact on my thinking. And I know I’m not the only one. Pete Phillips, Simon Sutcliffe, Digital Mission and others, including my good friend Katielou, have posted on it and related matters – like the Church of England’s General Synod really lagging behind its media engagement.
My own social media engagement has grown hugely not simply during Conference but since. It has been an amazing experience, involving conversations with bishops, a very switched-on group of young Methodists, and dispersed members of the Methodist presbytery amongst others. I’ve been watching closely as two new hastags (#cpol & #iqtank) start to develop ongoing conversations regarding political action and mission in the digital era – one of the questions asked of by #iqtank on “What does it mean to live in the mission of God?” is one I may well be tempted to join in on once I return from South Africa in a month’s time (see here for a brief intro to #iqtank from Simon).
As my title suggests, however, this business has caused my head to spin a bit. This has especially been the case since I have also been trying to concentrate on preparing for my trip to South Africa – one thing I am very conscious of is that my Twitter, Facebook and blog time will be severely limited in South Africa, because of time, money and internet availability (some of my time will be spent in townships, where I am led to believe internet access is not always easily available). I have seen links flash up on Twitter especially that I would love to follow but simply haven’t had the time. There have been conversations I’ve wanted to join and couldn’t. There are people I know I want to follow but simply haven’t got around to doing it yet. When I have some time on holiday (at my parents, in the Westcountry, with lovely, fast broadband) I hope to spend a bit of time getting on top of software solutions to help me keep on top of different conversations and properly monitor blog feeds. One reason I want to do this is that I starting to think that I need to throw my original idea for a Pastoral Portfolio project (revolving around The West Wing) and pick up a new one around the involvement of churches with Social Media (really need to talk to my Director of Pastoral Studies before I leave on Friday!) – and there are so many things to think about, such as social media culture, combined off- and on-line worship, virtual sacramentalism, and maintaining connections are just a few! That’s how much this social media stuff has now got me going, how much it’s got in my blood – so much so I’m actually investigating what the cheapest way of keeping me online and mobile in South Africa might be!
Seriously, social media is here to stay. Methodist Conference opened my eyes to some of the amazing possibilities such technology and media opens up for us, and some of the pitfalls of simply not keeping up. Now I want to grab it with both hands and run – which really will mean getting somewhat fitter so I don’t just end up keeping myself in the same place!
Whether you’re a virtual pioneer, just going with the flow, or desperately trying to catch up, travel well.