Monday, August 29, 2011

Hot Topic: Social Media and Worship

Here's a hot topic practically guaranteed to make good Christians go bad: social media and worship.

That's right -- mention "worship" and "social media" in the same context and then push away from your monitor. Within seconds on Twitter and a bit longer on blogs, you'll see folks getting amped up about whether anyone should be "allowed" to use social media during worship.

Those opposing this practice usually argue that doing so is too disruptive and diminishes the worship experience. I, who am generally ok with using social media during worship, would agree this could be true. But as the song lyrics go, "it ain't necessarily so" because arguments against using social media during worship seem to be grounded in these three assumptions:
  • Everyone who is not actively using social media during worship is being fully attentive.
  • Everyone who is actively using social media during worship is not using it wisely and well.
  • Everyone assimilates information and is inspired during worship via auditory means.

For me, this raises the following issues which I'll focus on in subsequent posts:
  • Do we respect and trust people to worship in reverential, meaningful and appropriate ways? If not, why not?
  • Do our concerns about using social media during worship come from love or fear? If from fear, fear of what?
  • Do we believe in and trust the Holy Spirit? If so, then what's the real issue?

 Come Holy Spirit...
Whisper Discernment in the midst of confusion;
be Wisdom in time of trouble;
Reverence in the face of diversity;
Patience with the unfolding of life...


Mary Shore said...

Looking forward to this conversation. I am too old to be the demographic likely to tweet in worship, but I've done it. Once, I was taken to task (during the sharing of the peace before Communion in a Lutheran setting) by a younger nearby pew mate, who informed me that whatever I was doing with my phone was really distracting. Alas. It had been a way for me to concentrate and engage with the sermon, but the price paid by another was too high for me to keep up the practice.

Meredith Gould said...

Wonder what would have happened if you had gotten into a conversation -- maybe during coffee hour -- about why you were tweeting. (Maybe you did?)

Not the same, of course, but I might have used this analogy: What if I needed to use a hearing aid or a ASL interpreter to concentrate? Would you deny me that assistance?

Brad said...

I'm all for "checking in" and maybe tweeting the days readings or theme of those readings, but not a fan of use during the Mass. That's a special time in which we should be very attentive and reflecting. I guess I'm not seeing the benefit to use during. Before and after . . . absolutely.

Meredith Gould said...

Brad...How about during the homily/sermon as a way to take notes?

Richard Littledale said...

Was thinking about this earlier this year when research came out about use of the "second screen" by under-25s. See "tweeting from the pew":

Meredith Gould said...

Richard: Reading the comments on your blog post has served to reinforce my thoughts about the assumptions everyone makes. As a sociologist, I cannot help but wonder what's going on underneath it all whenever an issue triggers such passionate positioning!

RevWik said...

I'm currently considering adding a new time in worship (during the offering) in which people are encouraged to think of folks who aren't physically present and then, if they wish, to tweet or text them (or just hold them in their hearts).

Meredith Gould said...

RevWik: Interesting! I'm in the process of crafting a pulpit and service booklet announcement for my wedding (coming up on 11/5) to invite folks to tweet or text if they're moved or inspired by anything in the liturgy or homily...or my dress!

Pastor David said...

RevWik -

What a great idea!! I love that, it is a great way to incorporate new media in a way that integrates it with a solid theology of worship.