I was intrigued by Fr. David’s piece concerning Social media and the church and the linked article there, a good piece it is as well. This, and Mr CatOLick’s blog, ‘Who do you reject?’ got me thinking a bit more bout our experience of ‘gossiping the Gospel’ at church and ‘twittering the gospel’ online.
A major difference is simply that we can continue a conversation or a ‘thread of thinking’ online in a more cohesive way than is usually possible in our weekly church cycle of contact. Life is made up of snippets of conversations, often loosely connected between different people during the day or the week or even the month. The opportunity to return to the moment in a conversation that we were having with Mr Smith at the church door last Sunday morning and carry on from there is something that happens infrequently. There is no record of what we said then and Mr Smith and I have moved on since then and were not especially bothered about what we said anyhow.
Which leads me to the next difference which is that; online, we do not have to stand and chat with the boring and long winded guy who always makes you late and as a consequence, crotchety?
Online the conversations we choose to follow are more honestly controlled by ourselves. Now I don’t believe this is wholly true, as we may choose to be polite and engage with others online when we would rather not for other reasons, but nonetheless we are not ‘trapped and cornered with one hand holding a cup of tea and the other a biscuit! Online, for many of us, we have more autonomy regarding with whom we ‘speak’. Fr. David’s ‘Lions’ may prowl around seeking whom they may devour, but you can put them on your ‘ignored’ list if you want to.
I did wonder about Fr. David’s idea that “social media should be a means, never the end” but here I am quoting him out of context! So that aside, I do think there are those of us for whom social media may be our prime, and in some cases almost our only means of socialising in the way online socialising can be. For me there is a ‘reality’ to the online which is every bit as much a reality as the ‘temporal’ arena Fr. David mentions.
This is to ask the question, ‘what is reality’. Well this blog isn’t about that but it does point us to the fascinating questions that online ‘life’ might raise. I often think that many of those who are hampered in their understanding of religion are hampered by their difficulty with the concept of reality.
What is it? Jews seek signs and Greeks seek wisdom (Corinthians 1:22). I have spoken about that elsewhere but not in this context. Reality is a fascinating concept and for us, I imagine, it all starts with that first breath, and the fascinating struggle thereafter, life. That first breath that you took when you were born was reality and you have been breathing and drinking in that reality ever since. However you knew another reality before that, in the womb, and have been made aware of other realities since, through fairy tales and good books, through paintings and films, in faith and now online life.
Each ‘reality’ its own rules and requirements for participation, and online life is no different. Everything, fairy tales, books, films everything on heaven and earth is encompassed by God, and in that sense, I imagine, made real.