Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Musing to Myself: Information Overload

Yesterday at one of my favorite facebook pages, there was an invitation to join a tweetchat for a discussion on social media and ministry.  As I read through the comments, I thought, "Hmm.  Maybe I should take another look at Twitter.  This may be vital to doing ministry in the 21st century - even in a small rural community. 

Now, I had first become aware of Twitter while I was on internship.  My internship congregation was dipping their toe in the social media pool - beyond the website.  So I signed up and started to tweet.  Once.  Or maybe twice.  I don't remember.  I 'm the type of person who doesn't update her facebook status much because I can never think of anything cool or pithy to say.  So the very tell-all premise of Twitter was a bit much for this dyed-in-the-wool-introvert.

But I hung on for a week or two.  I thought being able to follow various news outlets and my favorite shows and authors and charities would be wonderful.  And I love facebook for keeping me in touch with friends and family.  I hope twitter would do the same for me.

Even with the small number of people/things I followed, I was quickly overwhelmed with information overload.  I started to panic - I mean a full blown anxiety attack.  I couldn't breathe - how was I going to keep up with all these tweets and still have a life? 

But that was 3 years ago.  And the trends say that the way to reach the under 30 group is through twitter.  And the promised tweetchat sounded so beneficial, I just had to try again.

So I set up a new account.  I have to admit, twitter has improved in the last 3 years.  It's much easier to set up an account and much easier to find people/things to follow.  On the other hand, it's been about 18 hours since I set up my twitter account, and I'm already on information overload!

Some of that is due to my choices of who to follow.  There is one news organization which, as much as I love it, I will have to unfollow (is that a word?) - they just send too many tweets.  So there's apparently a balance to using twitter -how do you decide who you want to follow, how do you sift through the informational deluge to attend to tweets that interest you? 

It's a question for our age:  how do you balance the overwhelming amount of information available with your need to know what you need to know, and having a life outside of the Internet?  I would suggest that this is a spiritual question.  It's about balance - striking that happy medium between work and play, worship and rest, time with family and time with God.  Basically, it's asking, "what is important to me?" and not allowing interesting but ultimately extraneous information (as a rabid trivia lover, this a huge trap for me!) to get in the way of focusing on the important.

In other words - sometimes there are things, good things, we choose to let go in order to do/have those things that we really want or need.

BTW - once I figured how to tweetchat, the advertised conversation was very thought provoking.  While I am not nearly as social media sophisticated as those who did the tweeting (I mostly lurked), it was enlightening to hear the experiences of those integrating social media and ministry.  And while I'm not ready to take tweets from the pulpit - my imagination has been set on fire! 

Time to dip a toe in the social media pool.

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