Recently at our Austin Q gathering, I asked the participants to consider limiting their real-time tweets or live-blogging during sessions. Our hope was for each person to break away from the usual noise and take advantage of an opportunity to be fully present, engaged and reflective. Instead of “recording” the moment, we asked them to consider what this exposure to innovative ideas and new relationships might mean for them. Not their followers or readers—simply them.
My point wasn’t to suggest that these technology mediums were bad, but rather, to make a clear statement about the kind of gathering experience we are trying to create with Q. We were up front and honest about how certain technologies are prone to distract us from fully engaging. Instead of promoting it, we cautioned against it. This was our way of emphasizing how much we value embodiment...fully aware, in the moment, reflecting and responding to our surroundings.
Consider N.T. Wright’s recent thoughts that underscore the unintended consequences of social media.
NT Wright on Blogging/Social Media from Bill Kinnon on Vimeo.
As our team at Q maintains, the issue isn’t the technologies themselves, but how we manage them that’s critical. It seems to me, this is an area in which the church can offer something of great depth to a society struggling for authentic relationships and significance. Instead of blindly following the trends, what if we changed the conversation? What if we promoted the values of being fully present, fully human, and fully embodied? Not in word, but in the simplicity of actually showing up. Where technology helps us to do that better, we manage it. Where it doesn’t—tread carefully.