What is the point?

twitterWhy bother being a Christian on Social Media? What are we trying do? Who are we trying to talk to? (Yes, I do know the grammar is dodgy.) These questions, articulated or unspoken were lurking in a debate I was part of last week. They gave me pause for thought.

I started blogging and tweeting as a new curate. The blog started as a way of keeping my former congregation in touch with what I was up to – and to help them understand what kind of stuff a curate in the Church of England does. The tweeting started because I thought the time might come where any self-respecting Incumbent might be expected to have some idea about the weird and wonderful world of social media. But the reasons have changed over time.

These days, I blog to help me think, and sometimes to speak into situations I know a little bit about from a particular perspective. I tweet to stay in touch with valued friends – and to stay open to making new friends too. I read twitter streams to get a range of opinions on all sorts of issues. So am I a “Christian” blogger and tweeter? I would argue that I am, even though my tweets contain much more about coffee, cake and Strictly Come Dancing than they do about theology. I didn’t used to wander about at work yelling “I’m a Christian: Love God and love your neighbour as much as you love yourself” even though I believed then as passionately  as I do now that it’s the best way to live life. My kind of Christianity is relational – I seldom broadcast “belief instructions” – through Twitter or by any other means.

Blogs and Twitter are only tools. They are useful for different kinds of communication.  The result is that I have built some much valued relationships through twitter, in much the same way I would in any other place, particularly my former workplace. Sometimes relationships form over a shared task, sometimes over a coffee machine, sometimes because people are introduced by mutual friends, sometimes because people “like the look” of each other. All as true on twitter for me as face to face. My blog tends to be used to explore ideas that require more nuance than is possible on twitter. A blog has context in a way twitter doesn’t.

So who am I trying to talk to through my blog, and through twitter? Anyone who wants to read either, and if people want to answer back, so much the better. If you want to answer back with well thought through reasoned comments that help me to develop, then my day is made. And what is my underlying message? Er, well, I’m a Christian, so I’ve got a particular perspective, and I’m happy to talk about it with you. But on the whole, people live stressed, complicated, difficult lives. I’d like to offer a bit of encouragement at the difficult moments, and if that’s via daft offers of virtual coffee, that’s fine with me.  Or red wine or a decent malt if it’s later in the evening. I talk to people through twitter and my blog because I am human and so are you.

9 responses to “What is the point?

  1. thanks Claire. I don’t “do” cake, wine or malt – but could use a hug just this minute… and a shoulder to cry on… a reall one’d be best but there isn’t one within 30 miles of here. Can you spare a virtual one?

  2. thanks but hold the lemon! getting through tissues like nobody’s business… not sure what good it’s doing though… just finally admitting how much stuff I already know about hurts… still cant’ see any way out or through though. and be a _real_ pal – don’t tell me to hang on in there and trust God… please, please don’t do that… I already know that He’s holding tight to me and I hate Him for being so bloody _nice_ at times like this. Me trusting is neither here nor there. I j-u-s-t w-a-n-t the p-a-i-n to go a-w-a-y!!!!!!

  3. Like you I blog to help me think, that anyone reads it is a bonus! Twitter has been good to highlighting what else is going on in the world, to remove me from my ‘bubble’ so to speak, and to expose me to different ideas. The latter has also been a good way of seeking support and both show that there is a ‘new’ form of community and church family, the digital family that crosses international borders and not just parishes. Keep going, you are appreciated!

  4. There can be a number of reasons for writing. For me, I started simply as a means to thinking out loud. At least, blogging is slightly more socially acceptable than walking around talking to yourself (though I have noticed that the latter seems to be common practice around Brixton, since moving nearby).

    One might try to respond to another – as you have done recently. 😉

    You can also aim to prompt others into thinking. This can bring with it a danger of being preachy, and I have probably slipped over the edge at times.

    • I love it when blogs get into dialogue – just hope that we don’t end up speaking in very small and decreasing cliquey circles. 🙂
      I’ve discovered that singing aloud is sometimes more acceptable than talking, but it can be difficult to fit the words to anything other than plainchant.

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