This last weekend saw my inaugural voyage in the great ship The Christian New Media Conference.
Now, you will either fall into two camps: those who went or would have been interested in so doing, or else those who have no idea what sort of conference that may be. If you are of the latter disposition, then think prayers and know that we were described as "geeks" with alarming frequency, added to which we were all sporting a dozen gadgets apiece, and you will get the idea. It was, basically, a gathering of bloggers, Tweeters, Facebookers and those who aspire to such levity.
One of my own concerns with social media as a 'world' is that it connects with tangible reality in the way that Kermit the Frog's legs and arms do - which is to say, they are never in the same shot at the same time. It is, without doubt, a part of reality as real people have real interactions. The matter and the fruits of social media are very real and for that I love it, embrace it and do all I can to compel others to come in.
Then we went and had our "Geeks Gathering" where I met three people (among many others), and to whom this post is warmly dedicated. They are three Christian ministers, who, alarmingly, seemed to be on the wavelength that I seem to exist on. It was the first time I had met them in my life, and I am glad that I did. Through social media, they are gentlemen with whom I had had various quantities of interaction through the gadget-mitigated world - but Saturday was the first time that I had ever actually met them.
And it was good. I venture to say that it was better. We had lunch together and a couple of beers apiece and we sorted out the world. It was a truly wonderful time - so it begs a question. In the great meal of life, is social media a good hearty starter? Nothing beats that 'face to face' stuff for me, the main course - and I doubt I could have engaged with those people from Saturday over a month of Sundays on Twitter and cover the ground that we did in an hour behind a pint!
Social Media is one tool among many, in the various modes it exists, to bring people into contact with others. To be fair, I may not have been sat anywhere with anyone on Saturday without it, so from that point of view, I am endlessly grateful to my social-media life. I will always wonder though, if in the end, we are always called to move on to the main course and be with people, in proximity, like wot we used to.
I want to thank the wonderful people with whom I spent time of Saturday, the lads and others who didn't bother joining us for lunch and everyone else who tolerated my tomfoolery, modest rages and all those other little facets of 'me' that emerge in lecture theatres. I was delighted to have met you!