About 2 and a half years ago, when I learned that I had only 3 months
more at my position as Web developer with United Methodist Communications,
I applied with another UMC agency for a “Social Media Director” position.
Despite my packed resume dating back to 1991 – focusing on everything
from which Social Media is derived today, back to its roots (like pre-
Web, online communities such as Ecunet, an ecumenical, 1980′s -founded
conferencing system accessed by dial up), Web work in e-commerce, content
management, online community evangelization (meaning attempting to run
“PR” for the idea that church organizations can and should always be
building an ecosystem of Web communities around EVERYTHING (“Social Media
predecessors” or early evolutionary incarnations of Social Media), and
constant immersion in the constant flow of new Web standards, tools, and
possibilities – despite all that, I never even received a call or an indicator
that there was an interest in what my experience meant for them.
Despite this 20 years of experience, and despite that it was all in the
context of and BECAUSE of the church that I was constantly engaged in
looking at the present and possible future of the Web and its tools, Web
shops in denominational agencies seem to be of the mind that “Development
is development” and unrelated to theological issues or in need of
theological forethought or “theology of databases”. Data , for the
church, should and MUST BE deeply theological. It goes back to the
concept of “Social Graph” introduced by Facebook. For Facebook, the
“graph” seems to be giving a layman’s perspective of the relational
database. One set of data is linked together sets of data by keys. It’s
all ONE database, linked together by users, types of users, their
“interests” and “locations” and “Likes”. The latest iteration “Social
Search” (to which I have still not been granted access), is a further
opening of that data to users to selective filters by user.
I’ve been writing about this for three or four years, and I’ve had
exactly ONE person exhibit any kind of technical or faint theological
interest. Nobody in church communications, nobody in IT; all I hear is
Where does the “old” come in here? Well, its that problem with how
“Social Media” is taken to mean “Young people are going to be the best at this”. That itself is WRONG. While its true that this is true of the overall population, it is NOT true than any given young person will understand and converse with social media as well as any given “older person”. And this is even more of a problem when it comes to theologically aware institutions/organizations, since theological institutions are supposedly making conscious efforts to be a communal effort; open to the knowledge carried about by its experienced members, as well as to the insights of the young. Even more crucial is the insight of the development of the “hyperconnected” expectations of the human mind as a result of new communications technologies. Those who have been paying attention, and being simultaneously affected by those changes as well, and seeing “changes” through lenses “fine tuned” to see the spiritual/social/psychological/cultural affects and effects will have invaluable insight into what tools show most promise in leveraging our ecclesial maturing. In other words, it is a grievous oversight and naivete to miss ANY of this. Why is it that church organizations don’t think it is even an issue that its development visions for the Web and Social Media would need theological insight?