Tagged: media

Authenticity #3 – Privacy Online

Recently I was shown this video from Greg Benson of MediocreFilms on YouTube.

It’s a great video, and I do recommend that you check out the rest of his videos over on his YouTube channel. If you’re someone who is sensitive about foul language though be warned, not all of his videos are as peachy-clean as the one above, although a lot are!

Watching this video made me incredibly aware of the amount of information that we put out online, and that we don’t necessarily know who can actually see that information. I’m pretty sure that it made you think about it too. Apart from being humorous, I’d guess that’s one of the intentions of the video.

The amount of information that we put online is staggering. Our names, addresses, pictures, videos, holiday destinations, birthdays, last night’s dinner… The list is nearly endless. What’s worrying about this is that according to the eConsultancy, only 46% of UK Internet consumers consider privacy an important issue that they consider regularly. Also, that a high percentage of people think that the government, or website owners, are responsible for regulating their own online security – rather than themselves. (Source: eConsultancy Blog)

Private!

With social media growing, we are finding more and more ways to share our lives and also creating more forums in which to share. Obviously being safe online is important, particularly when it comes to card details etc etc etc… But our payment details aren’t the only thing that we need to watch out for, and the video above really highlights this.
Do you follow any pages on Facebook that could access your details like this? That could find out where you live and turn up to your house? Know where you have been on holiday? Know the names of your children? (If applicable, of course) It’s worth thinking about.

Here’s another question though: do measures to keep our information safe and private online affect our authenticity in the digital space?

It comes down – again – to the idea of a ‘photoshopped-self’ online (Thanks to @pmphillips for informing me of this term). By cutting bits out online, we are editing the material that represents us; therefore affecting the possible ways in which we might be viewed by others.
We are changing what people can think of us at conception, therefore restricting the way they that we can be viewed at consumption.

The way I see it, everything that we do online changes the way that we are received, and so editing what can or cannot be seen will definitely influence our online authenticity. It seems to me that there is a balance to be found.
How much do we hold back, and for what reasons? Could this information compromise your safety? Or is it just going to compromise your image?

There’s also etiquette to consider here – could what I’m about to say be seen as spiteful, mean or nasty? Might be best not to put it out there.
Recently I’ve started to think this before I tweet:

  1. If I am replying to someone, I think – ‘Would I say this to this person in a face to face conversation?’
  2. If I am tweeting in general I think – ‘Would I say this in front of a crowd?’ (Assuming I wasn’t terrified of speaking in front of groups, of course).
  3. And finally, I take a minute to look at how it could be read and try my best to see if it could be taken the wrong way.

That’s just what I do. Anyway, I’m sorry again for the lack of definite answers to anything here, but I’m not sure there ever will be any. I hope you enjoyed mulling this over with me.

What do you think?

  • How conscious are you of the information that you put online? Do you know who can see what?
  • In what ways do you try to be authentic online?
  • Any ‘Twittiquette’ tips to share?

I would love to see your comments!

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What Would Jesus Tweet?

I do apologise profusely for the cliché-esque title, but you just can’t turn down an opportunity like that!Twitter

This is a topic that’s been bouncing around the Twitter-verse for quite a while now, and I’ve been spotting it again recently, so naturally I started to think about it. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

When Jesus was here he used a variety of ways to communicate. Obviously he didn’t whip out his iPhone and start organizing Facebook events – as much as I’m sure that would have been useful – but he still did find several ways to communicate with people.

Talking would seem to be the most common form of communication that Jesus used, there are countless parts of the bible that mention Jesus speaking to an individual or a group. It also seems that Jesus sometimes wrote, also. In John 8:6 Jesus writes in the dust and dirt on the ground for a group of Pharisees in the temple.
Also worth noting is how Jesus might shout to speak to a crowd – for example in Matthew 5 at the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke to 5,000!
And then there is Jesus’ disciples. This is a thought that I am glad struck me. As much as it is not a direct form of communication from Jesus, he used his disciples to communicate the message in his place. They acted as a platform that allowed the good news to spread further.

Nowadays there are many different ways for us to communicate. We still have talking and writing obviously, but we also have a postal system, on a global scale! And then of course with new technology we can make calls, faxes, texts, emails, instant messages, video calls! The list is continuing to expand!
Of this long list Twitter is a current favourite of many people in terms of communicating online; with roughly 555 million users, there is a lot of information twittering about!

This leads on to the real question: If Jesus were here today, would he be tweeting?

Communication was, and I suppose still is, crucial for Jesus. His message is everything – so he went about explaining it in the way easiest for everyone else to understand. Even in his use of language, it is reckoned that he spoke the tongue appropriate to his audience.
Considering this, it is likely that Jesus would be on Twitter. The platform is capable of reaching many, and is one of the main ways that people are communicating in this digital age.
Twitter is great for sharing, and that is what Jesus did a lot of. He shared his stories and words of wisdom, and with Twitter he would have 140 characters to do just that!

Then again, Jesus might not be such a  fan of tweeting. He might find it to be impersonal, or that there are too many opportunities for the meaning of his message to be misinterpreted.
If Jesus were tweeting however, I’m fairly sure that he would use it in ways that are different to a lot of us. I certainly wouldn’t expect any pictures of his lunch!

One thing we can be sure of – he would use it in ways that we never could.

And the trolls wouldn’t win.

What do you think?

  • Do you agree with any of this? Would Jesus be a tweeter?
  • Did I miss any other ways Jesus communicated in the Bible?
  • What do you think would happen if Jesus were tweeting today?

Another authenticity blog – inspired by #CNMAC13

So the Christian New Media Awards and Conference just happened.#CNMAC13 For anyone not aware of this event, it’s about equipping the church in this digital age, and teaches it’s delegates how to make the most of technology and social media as Christians.

I’ve come away from the day not only shattered, but inspired. I attended the conference as a volunteer, and therefore didn’t manage to listen to most of the talks – so the inspiration for this blog on authenticity online actually comes from me physically being a volunteer.

Being a volunteer was hard for me. It really pushed me and stretched my limits. What was it that I was doing that was such a challenge? Interacting with people.
To get to the point I’m going to have to explain myself to you a little bit. I am not a confident person, and I’m not a terribly good people person. I’m introverted. I like video games and listening to music with huge headphones so that I can block everyone out.
So when we were asked as to man the registration desk and be human sign-posts for the day, I was… apprehensious. Particularly when we were asked to be ‘positive, outgoing, smiley and helpful’.

Not my thing.

But yet I persevered and if I’m honest I am quite proud of myself for it – I think that it was a push I needed.

How does this relate to being authentic online? Well as far as I’m aware, online I’m not like that. Online I can be more outgoing and open, more confident. Heck, online I can even manage ”public speaking” through my blog.
You’d never catch me doing that in person.
Online I am thrilled to be making contact with people and meeting strangers, whereas in person I find the idea of speaking to strangers terrifying. Particularly a group of them!

What I’ve realised is that in terms of typical online authenticity – I am not authentic. Sorry. You’re reading fake words right now, I hope that doesn’t disappoint you.

This is where I begin to get confused. Because despite what you just read, this isn’t fake. It’s real, it’s my thoughts put into my words.
Does the fact that I probably would find it difficult to say this to you in person (particularly all of you at once!) make my words have any less weight, or authenticity? NO!

So if online me is still authentic, but not the same, what does that mean?
In another blog post I brought up the idea that ‘online versions’ of ourselves could be MORE authentic than our offline personas. I would really like to be more outgoing and confident, and online I am. Does that make it a truer representation of me? It’s the me I can’t bring myself to be offline, a look at the inner me?

I have no answers – sorry. I guess that another way to look at it would be to say that – as long as there is no intentional deception – we’re authentic everywhere. It’s just that we can express ourselves differently through different mediums.

TL;DR, I have no answers on online authenticity for you. Do you have some for me?

Truth – Five Minute Friday

So I thought I’d try this out.
Having a blog with quite a precise focus this could be difficult, but for at least this week I’ll face the challenge! Here goes!

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Truth.

The truth is something that can avoid us online. There are so many ways to decieve and trick, in terms of identity and otherwise.
Some thrive on the anonymity of the web, concealing who they are they feel that there are no consequences to their actions. Trolls, are basically who I am talking about.

There have been some pretty nasty incidents online regarding trolls recently. The problem is that no-one really knows what to do about it, should internet access be cut? Comments sections abandoned?
It’s a shame that the trolls are out there, because they often ruin what could be a perfectly happy system of communication.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this, I think that really it just makes me sad to see what people are doing online, and to also know that it is mostly my generation doing it.

Personally I think that the best thing to do is to ignore them, not to taunt or annoy. If you do that, then surely you are no better?

I think that’s what I’m trying to get at here, that we should all try to be considerate online, and to really try to act as if we’re talking to real people – because we are.

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Please take the time to look at Lisa-Jo Baker’s site, the thinker-upper of Five Minute Fridays, found here.

Please also take a look at the blogs that persuaded me to take part in this, Thorns and Gold and JamesPrescott.co.uk

Can our blogging be evangelistic? Or are we stuck in a Christian Twitter huddle?

Well hello there. It’s been a while, quite a long while.

I realise that this blog has been somewhat neglected over the past few months, but here I am hoping to not let it happen again. If you’re interested, here’s some personal updates since I last posted:

  • I’m a married man now! I got married in July to the most wonderful young woman; we couldn’t be happier!
  • I’m no longer a journalism student. The shorthand was too much for me, obviously. I jest, I could have kept at it, but I suddenly felt that it wasn’t for me anymore, and that I have more skills that could be put to use in my new degree: Entertainment Technology. It’s a lot of video editing, animation and things. I am glad to have done the year of journalism, and I really think that year will help me out with the rest of this new course!

Now, on to the blogging. This is going to be a pretty short blog, partly because I’d like to just ease back into blogging but mainly because I have no conclusions on this – and I would REALLY like to hear from you, hear your opinions.

Blogging is great. Christian blogging is also great.
It’s encouraging, thought provoking and explorative, but could it be more?Facecross?

It seems to me that when it comes to Christian blogging communities, that’s exactly what they are, Christian blogging communities. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it just seems that we can get stuck in a – prepare for a cliché – holy huddle.
On Twitter particularly there is a very strong community of bloggers who support each other, write for each other and critique each other. It can be a really encouraging and welcoming group.
The thing is, we only ever seem to be writing for each other.

Do you think that there is a way to blog, with evangelistic intentions?
I understand that just by putting our blogs out there we are doing some form of evangelism, and may evangelise in ways that we hadn’t forseen, but is there a way for us to intentionally evangelise through our blogs?

I really have no answers, and that’s why I’m hoping to hear from you about this.

Over to you:

  • Can we evangelise through blogging?
  • Do you agree that there is a bit of a ‘holy huddle’ situation going on?
  • Am I completely wrong?

Who Are You Online? #SH2013

So I’ve been at Spring Harvest the past few days, and for the next few days to come. It’s been great, awesome worship and brilliant speakers.

That was a lot of positive adjectives.

The highlight so far has been the Click Zone, run by Bex Lewis.
It almost seemed too good to be true – a click zone, a zone focused on the discussion of technology and social media in relation to faith – a zone that fits in exactly with this blog?

Luckily it is more than a mirage and indeed a reality, and so I’m going to take the chance to blog about the topics we’ve discussed. Or some of them. We’ll see how many I squeeze in.

First up – online authenticity.

This blog isn’t going to hold any answers, advice or any similarly useful bits. It will just be some of my musings on the topic, influenced by what we’ve heard here at Spring Harvest.

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Being authentic online is difficult. After-all, how authentic are we offline? And what does it mean to be authentic?
I would think that most people would describe being authentic as acting the same as we would do in person, offline.

But from what do we judge our authenticity?
Some people look out-wards when creating their online personas, trying to be as others wish them to be, or to fill a social gap. Is this authentic? No, it’s not really a person being themselves, is it?
I guess it could be seen as authentic, in a way. If a person is the type who automatically adjusts themselves depending on social situations, then this kind of behaviour is natural for them. It is authentic.

So it could be said that people can be authentically false… Great. This isn’t confusing at all.

Other people seem to do the opposite, they try too hard to be themselves.
The truth is that we don’t really know ourselves completely, so when people look inward to try and be authentic online, they end up acting how they think they act, which may or may not be true.

So now by trying to be yourself you might end up being unauthentic? Not helpful.

My recent realisation about this topic was that in some ways, you can be more authentic online than offline. That’s right.
Offline, I’m pretty timid, I don’t like socialising much at all, I’m pretty introverted. Online? I like to make new connections, and be confident in what I say and do.
So, my online me is false? Not at all!
I really wish that offline, I could be the confident online me, but I can’t.
Being online removes boundaries that potentially allow us to be who we wish we were. It allows us to project our ‘inner selves’ in a sense.

Is that not more authentic? Does the freedom of the Internet allow me to display a truer version of myself?

I think so. But at the same time, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to see just how authentic we are online, or in any circumstance. All we can do is try our bests to be who we think we are, or should be, or to be the best version of ourselves.

I think.

Over to you:

  • Do you think we can ever be authentic online?
  • what efforts do you make to try and be authentic online?

 

It would be great if you could comment and help get a conversation going, so that we can learn something from it!

So, Why Blog?

Since the Web 2.0 boom in 2002 web-logging or blogging has taken off massively.

NM incite, a company that monitors social media trends to provide marketing tactics to businesses conducted a survey of the global blogging industry. In their results they showed that since 2006, the number of blogs online has increased from 35 million to 108 million at the end of 2011.

That is a huge amount of blogs. So why do they do it?

I asked Twitter users Tanya Marlow (@Tanya_Marlow) and James Prescott (@JamesPrescott77) three questions about their blogs.

First I asked: why do you blog?

James said: “I blog because I love writing and because I feel like I have a message I want to share with the world. I blog because I want to share my experiences and lessons from life in a way which can really help others. Blogging is an outward expression of who I am.”

Tanya replied: “I started writing because I could no longer speak. I had been made housebound from severe chronic illness, and was unable to work or see friends more than twice or three times a week. I felt like I’d had eighteen months of silence. Blogging for me, was my way of declaring to the world, ‘hey! I’m still here! I have thoughts!”

My second question was: how has your blogging affected you?

James told me that: “Blogging has had a huge impact on me. It has helped me build relationships with people I would never have known otherwise, it has also allowed me to discover more about myself as I have explored ideas and written about different issues. It allowed me to have a positive impact on the world – I am always so encouraged when i hear stories of how my blog has impacted people. It’s allowed me to become a better writer and discover my writing voice. It’s become a way I can use my gifts to serve God. I love blogging, and don’t want to stop.”

Tanya said that blogging has, for her “been a really healing process, emotionally.” She went on to say that: “I think it has enabled me to do something constructive with all the thoughts and debates whirling round in my head. I’ve rediscovered a love for creative writing, and even though it wouldn’t be my ‘first choice’ for doing ministry, I’ve realised it is a powerful opportunity, and it feels like I am still able to use some of my gifts to serve God and others. (I hope that’s not too grandiose! It doesn’t feel that way when I’m writing – I feel like I’m writing because I have to – because I have an idea and I need go get it out – but as I reflect I realise it’s an important way of connecting with God and others.)”

Finally I asked: what is your favourite thing about/ aspect of blogging?

James thought that this was a “Tough question!” but went on to say that “Its a tie between building new relationships, creating new work and discovering more about myself and God. All of these are amazing blessings from blogging – if I really had to narrow it down to one, it would be building relationships.”

Tanya says that she has two favourite things about blogging, one is “the sense of achievement. I’m rubbish at practical stuff, art and craft, but I can shape words.  Perhaps there is something about being in the image of God, and the sense of pleasure at creating something from nothing.”

Her other favourite thing is: “the support and community that comes through blogging. When you publish something, you take a risk. Writing is quite a vulnerable business, and what I write carries a big investment of energy and emotion. If you write a book, there are months between writing it and getting positive feedback; with blogging, it can be mere seconds.  The length of time between panicking, ‘oh no! What if I’m the only one who thinks like this?’ to reading, ‘you too? Me too!’ on the comments is gratifyingly small.”

A huge amount of thanks to both James and Tanya for taking the time to give such genuine, informative replies.
Just from these two responses you get a very positive glimpse on blogging. I love this quote from Tanya, “Blogging for me, was my way of declaring to the world, ‘hey! I’m still here! I have thoughts!”. To me it really demonstrates how much blogging can impact a life. And I for one am glad that they have found their voices, it’s great to read what both Tanya’s and James’ have to say.

Your turn:

Maybe you could answer the same questions?

– Why do you blog? If you don’t blog, why not?

– How has your blogging affected you?

– What is your favourite thing about/ aspect of blogging?

 Tanya runs a fantastic blog, Thorns and Gold. She is unfortunately a sufferer of M.E (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), and has been for over 6 years. Spending most of her time at home with her toddler, Tanya writes beautiful blogs that I very much recommend you check out.

James also has a fantasic blog at jamesprescott.co.uk. James is a great writer whose blog is incredibly encouraging. He hopes to leave a positive impact on the world, and is passionate about encouraging others in whatever way he can.