Thursday, November 26, 2009

thanksgiving for social media

On Thanksgiving, words of appreciation for this medium that at present has connected us in cyberspace.

1. In the Methodist world, I am thankful for Methoblog and the Wesley Report. I know these guys must spend an enormous amount of time sustaining these sites. Thanks Jay and Shane.

2. I am grateful for on-line resources that have welcomed my submissions, especially Day 1, Theolog and Ooze.

3. I appreciate the use of the internet by activists and reporters who are "repairing the world", especially Nicholas Kristof, Bill McKibben and Paul Farmer. The former makes especially good use of Twitter.

4. I like the work of Gretchen Rubin, whom I follow on Twitter. She is writing a book on happiness, and is amazingly literate about Christianity---we had a brief conversation recently about Flannery O' Connor's The Habit of Being.

5. I have been on Facebook, I think, for approximately one year. It has been a great way to connect with friends and stay in touch with what is going on in other places. In particular, I have been able to re-connect with a close friend from high school, divinity school and my first parish. And I know more about a number of people in our congregation (all good things).

6. I use Gmail chat to talk to our daughter in China, and sometimes we communicate via Skype as well. The time difference is twelve hours, so this is usually on the weekends, but this is great.

7. I have a few favorite sites that I return to---Huffington Post, No Depression, ESPN, Duke Basketball Report, Lifehacker---and I find that these have in fact replaced our daily newspaper. I really learn all I need to know about local and national politics from NPR and Morning Joe.

8. I really like the new Faith and Leadership site at Duke Divinity School. I read widely in a few other places---First Things, Daily Kos, for example----and may not agree with everything I read there, but I appreciate the diversity of thought in their religious and political coverage.

9. Electronic communication has been a gift that I have needed to learn how to use, over time, and this is what I have come to: I do not open my church email account before 8:00 in the morning or after 8:00 in the evening (and twelve hours of focus on work a day is sufficient). I recommend this practice to my friends. I have a cell phone that is very accessible in the event of an emergency, and the email, I have learned, will be there waiting for me. I do check in with Facebook much earlier than this, and also later, but this is more relational and requires less time and thought. This gives me more time to be present to my family and for reading. Not to mention Monk, The Office and 30 Rock.

10. I gave my wife a Kindle last Mother's Day---she spends a great deal of time in Haiti---and I think she likes it. She has been reading Suzi Welch's 10-10-10 and Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big To Fail.

11. A closing thought: social media has not replaced personal interaction with people----I still love getting together for meals or conversation with friends, I still make pastoral visits. I walk into the offices of other staff members, we sit down and we talk. I also subscribe to Christian Century and The New Yorker, and I often buy the Sunday New York Times. I buy more books than I should. So it is not an "all or nothing" endeavor. The point is that social media has been a positive element in my daily life, and today seemed a good time to express gratitude for the particulars.


Blogger Andy Rowell said...

Lots of good recommendations. I have added Wesley Report and Methodblog and Lifehacker to Google Reader and Gretchen Rubin to Twitter.

All the best,

6:29 AM  

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