Tuesday, 26 April 2011

At the Church Tweeting

I was reading a totally spurious poll the other day, which I won't link to because although allegedly a piece of research it was actually a puff piece for a dating site. But cutting to the chase, the main conclusion was that people who use Twitter have on average shorter romantic relationships.

Well, what are we to make of this? We could write off the entire thing as the publicity drivel it certainly was, but that would deprive me of the chance to write this blog-post. Or I can run with it for instructive purposes as to the pitfalls of Social Networking. Imagine a quiet candlelit dinner.

SHE: "Are you all right?" 
HE: "Yes."
SHE: "What are you thinking?"
HE: "Thinking?"
SHE: "Yes. You just gave a little smile. I saw you"
HE: "Oh, it's that @PhilRitchie comparing Wayne Rooney to a potato again."
SHE: "You've got your phone under the table? I thought you were reaching out to hold my hand. Is this what our relationship has come to?"
HE: "Look, shall we go outside for a moment?"
SHE: "After tweeting during our dinner you think this is the time for that sort of thing?"
HE "No, it's just that according to @VirtualAstro, the International Space Station's about to go over".

Well, you can see how long that kind of relationship is going to last.

And it can be disconcerting in other spheres of life. I mean, in the old days if you were preaching and somebody was sitting with their head slumped forward you were safe to assume they were asleep. But now it could be worse. They could secretly be paying attention. They could be accusing you of the ancient sin of Triclavianism live on-line, while you're merrily working your way towards your third point, and getting advice back from their Twitter mates (who'll meanwhile be dissecting their own pastor online) as to which form of penitence they should prescribe for you.

And the use of Faceback via smart phones in services has a lot to answer for as well. The other week we had a couple go from "friend request" to "like"-ing each other's statuses, to "In a relationship"", to a jealous dispute over an old school friend one of them had just found, online and all the way back to un-friended, all between the lighting of the first tea light and the pouring out of the last beaker. They weren't even in the same row of seats. Still, it makes the sharing of the Peace a lot easier these days. We just get everyone to stay in their places and "like". It's a lot more hygienic.

Twitter in meetings doesn't help, either. It used to be amusing a year or two ago, when people just used to tweet about how boring it was. But in these post-Ordinariate days, when any wrong move is the potential cause for another splinter group, it's a nightmare. You go into the Moot meeting thinking it's just some routine stuff about removing the moss from the gutters this month. You make a loose remark about Rob Bell being a good communicator, and it's in the outside world before you are. And because you're chairing, you're the only one that can't see what's going on in cyberspace. You come out at the end of the meeting to discover half the Folk have joined the Guinea Pig Worshippers and the other half have elected Burton Dasset as Pope of Woburn Sands.

So I'm taking action. Young Keith's been working on this for a week or so and the Beaker Blocker, a high-powered mobile-phone jamming device, is now thoroughly installed and working. There's been some complaints from the local authorities, but there's not a "dislike" button on Twitter, so what are they going to do about it?


  1. love it, no need for jamming devices up here though, I say twitter to my congregations and they do, like birds...

  2. The cutting edge of my communications technology is still email and blogs. I feel deprived ;-)

  3. Beaker Blocker... excellent! I want one!

  4. Please do not use a blocker - you could be stopping emergency services from communicating!


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