So, yesterday I went to the Christian New Media Conference. As a blogger I've planned to go to this for the last three years and for one reason and another I've never made it, so it was great to finally get there yesterday.
These days there is a lot of talk about how 'real' the digital world is and whether virtual relationships can replace real ones. But the thing is, and anyone who uses social media and embraces the digital world will tell you, it's not about replacing it, it is just a part of it. The curve of development in technology in recent years has exploded (mixed metaphor alert...) and there's no two ways about it, technology, social media, digital communication are here to stay. Like it or not.
As a soc med fan I have made some wonderful and useful connections online many of whom I would refer to as friends even though I've never met them. This is a new way of connecting with people and we all need to learn new skills to get the most out of it. Virtual relationships are never going to replace those we have with the people who are physically around us and we needn't be fearful of that.
So yesterday for me was like two worlds colliding. I met a whole load of people who I have 'known' online for quite some time plus I made a heap of new friends too and I think that was one of the most valuable parts of the day. Like Pete who I met on the train and Laura who had tweeted me in advance to say she'd travelling up on the same train as me. We'd never met before but we all became buddys for the day. Or like Anita whose blog I have followed for some years now, we first 'met' in person when a fellow blogger invited us both to lunch and yesterday we met over lunch for a quick catch up, and she then introduced me to others who I 'know' from the blog world.
It was also great to be in a room full of like-minded people. So often people just don't 'get' social media, especially in the church, some are so anti and often their reasons for being anti it are completely valid, but like anything we need to embrace the positives and learn from the negatives. We can all give examples of people posting their life histories and intimacies on Facebook and I'm sure we've all been guilty of that at some point. In the church we have to be even more careful, especially in leadership that our use of social media is 'appropriate' but we must be careful not to 'throw out the baby with the bath water' too.
I've loads to reflect on from yesterday and took copious notes so I'm sure there will be several posts to follow but for now I'm just excited about the future of digital communication and how we can harness that within the church...