I’ve sat down to write this post several times now. Each time it’s been slightly different, with a slightly different focus, but ultimately the same thing has happened – I couldn’t finish it.
Even now, as I’m sat in my comfy desk chair in the dead of night unable to sleep, I’m thinking that there’s no point in continuing to write this.
But at the same time, I want to want to write it.
It’s been some time since I last blogged, so this going to need some back-story.
Just before Christmas I was loving social media. Really enjoying it, I had a lot of conversations going, Twitter was always a source of friendship, information and fun. I was blogging regularly, I had plans to keep blogging, and I was enjoying myself doing it.
Then it got to Christmas time. I went home from university, saw relatives, went away and generally was away from the Internet; away from the online community I’d recently enjoyed being a part of.
When I came back I found that it was hard to get tweeting again. It was like I’d broken a habit, and I couldn’t get back into it. So I thought I would blog about it, maybe explore what my month of near Twitter-silence had done to my relationships, both online and offline.
That was the first time that I sat down to write this blog post. I’d found that being offline hadn’t drastically enriched my offline relationships, as I wasn’t always online, but my online relationships – that sense of community online – had suffered drastically.
I felt a stranger to my fellow Tweeters.
This is where I realised a big difference in online and offline communities.
Offline, people notice when you leave. If you go away or don’t show up to work or uni for a month – people would notice! As Christians we know that churches strive to notice when people aren’t turning up anymore, so that we can find out why.
Online, it doesn’t happen like that. The drop-in nature of social media means that it’s hard to keep track of people. Whereas you might get a call from a friend asking where you’ve been recently offline, online you’re unlikely to be dropped a tweet from someone who hasn’t seen you tweet in a while.
I really don’t like this.
I get that the web is impersonal and the rest of it, I’ve blogged on it enough. What I don’t like is the way that the impersonal nature of the web can come across as uncaring.
As a Christian, I like to think that a collection of Christians together makes a church. So therefore, at least in my mind, the large group of Christians who interact regularly online are a kind of Twitter-church, right?
If we acted in this online church like we did in our physical churches each Sunday then we would have so many friends! In church we greet each new person with enthusiasm and warmth, and strive to make them feel as though they are welcome and are of worth in the community. If we found some way to do this online, wouldn’t it just be awesome? And on the plus side, we have that drop-in nature, and the 24/7-ness of the web on our side! It would be like being surrounded by your church family whenever you need to be.
I have no idea if anything like this is logistically possible, but I hope that we can find a way to make Twitter a huge, caring and warm church.
Reading back through this now I realise that it incredibly poorly written and has no real structure or direction. Normally this would eat at me, but today I’m going to let it slide. This was just written as I thought it, my thoughts straight to paper. Or pixels.
I was going to have an explore about the authenticity of online friendships, but I think that will have to be for next time.
I hope that this post, whilst disorganised and dysfunctional gives you some pause for thought.
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?
So the Christian New Media Awards and Conference just happened. 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?
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!
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.
Please take the time to look at Lisa-Jo Baker’s site, the thinker-upper of Five Minute Fridays, found here.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
Google are moving ahead with their development in wearable tech.
In a new video (Which can be found Here) Google shows off features such as video recording, live directions and picture taking. These features are a bit of old news, but the ‘heads up display’ type aspect – a box showing the time and weather information – is new stuff. Although why you would want weather information is just baffling, shouldn’t the wearable tech be with you when you are in the weather?
A BBC News article gives fresh details about Google’s idea. The company has is letting developers and ‘creative individuals’ get access to the devices, in an effort to create a consumer guided product. It’s like crowd-sourcing, but without the funding element.
There’s also a Twitter hashtag that’s been suggested – #IfIHadGlass. The idea is to get social media folks giving ideas of ways that they would use the gadget. Currently Google is only looking to hear from tweeters in the UK, but here’s hoping they look for some British inspiration too!
Wearable tech seems to be the new thing for developers. With rumours of Apple’s iPhone wristwatch and other similar devices springing up all over the place. But are some going too far? What about a shoe-phone? Another BBC News report highlights an O2 funded developer who has been working on recycling old phone into the soles of shoes… Is it a step too far?
#IfIHadGlass I’d be interested as a journalist. It would be great to be able to see latest news updates on the go, and to literally allow people to see what the journalist sees. The video and stills feature combined with the 3G access (Or maybe 4G? Who knows…) makes it great for journalists ‘on the beat’.
Over to you:
- If you had glass, and no I’m not talking about Meth Amphetamine (Which is a problem with the naming…), what would you do with it? Why would you buy a pair?
- Shoe-phone, too wacky?
Feel free to discuss it in the comments section.
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?
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.
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.