Consider the sparrows... and all the tweeting that has been going on here at the Festival of Homiletics. I have been actively tweeting, rather easily from the Buckhead Theater, with more difficulty on my crappy cell phone at Peachtree UMC. Last week I was at another gathering of clergy through the Fund for Theological Education, and again, we were encouraged to tweet there. I’ve probably tweeted more in the past two weeks than the past two months.
I have enjoyed seeing the comments from others, particularly those in the other venues. It allows me to be in two or more places at once. I hope that there have been folks not at either of these gatherings who have gotten something out of my tweets and others. In that way, I saw my tweeting as a service, and I hope it has been that. It has also been an opportunity to connect with others virtually, most of whom I haven't connected with in person at the Festival. Maybe a Tweetup would have been nice, but with as many other things as have been going on, not to mention catching up with friends from across the country, I don't know if I would have gone.
And yet, my tweeting significantly changed and shaped my experience at these gatherings. I experienced being both present and not present. I got distracted by technical difficulties, page loading issues on my cell phone, and refreshing the tweetchat stream. On the other hand, during a certain worship service I was so exhausted and brain drained, but my tweeting somehow enabled me to maintain more focus on the message being delivered. At the end of Paul Raushenbush’s presentation on the Internet, he checked his own tweetdeck, and found that those of us who had been tweeting had sent him many good questions. Great opportunity for engaging the audience, but what if he had been following those updates during his presentation? He would have been all over the place and would not have covered 80% of what he had prepared. (I’m guessing. I'm sure he is a much better multi-tasker than I am, but there are human limits.)
Towards the end of his presentation, Raushenbush mentioned a statement from another author that the internet is neurologically changing our ability to think deep thoughts. As a former philosophy major and current practical theologian, this is a deeply disturbing thought (or as deeply disturbing as can be, considering the time I have spent on the internet). So what’s the verdict? Finding a balance? I’m not sure, but since I’ve been broadcasting live for the past two weeks, I thought I’d continue in my thinking out loud.