I came across this rather interesting article from the personal blog of a Pastor in the US recently in which he suggests that Tweeting in Church might be a good idea. Now, I have to admit that I was something of a late adopter with Twitter (and Facebook…and for that matter with SMS texting….yeah, OK, I’m a bit of a Luddite in some respects!) but I have to say that this suggestion surprised me. I’m afraid that when I’m in Church I’m focusing on my own engagement with God, via my participation in the collective experience of the congregation in the church. Which sounds more like an academic treatise than a celebration of faith, but that’s me!
the idea was that by tweeting ‘commentary’ on the sermon and other aspects of the service it could be regarded as a means of evangelising to the outside world and so bringing the Word to others – perhaps, but I think it’s one tweet too far for me. Which then led me on to business meeting tweets, conference tweets, etc.
Perhaps it’s a generational thing but despite having a Blackberry, a Netbook and enough technology at home to sink a small boat, I still go to meetings armed with a pen and paper for note taking. As far as I’m concerned, it’s reliable, no batteries to run out, makes no weird noises, doesn’t force me to think ‘How do I do that?’, will take text, drawings and doodles and isn’t ostentatious. Pen and paper is what I like to call ‘humble technology’ – it does what it says on the tin, no muss, no fuss. I’ve been in meetings recently where iPads have been deployed, tweets have been made (as I found out after leaving the meeting and looking at twitter) with no apparent damage to the business of the meeting…but…looking at my own notes taken in the meetings concerned, I’m wondering whether the meetings were actually needed / useful as my notes are pretty skimpy, and I take good notes.
We then have the recent debacle in the UK where some aspects of an industrial relations negotiation between British Airways and Trades Union representatives was tweeted to the outside world, resulting in a ‘pitch invasion’ of the building where the negotiations were taking place. I’m sorry…negotiations are supposed to be delicate affairs between the parties involved and any mediators. If someone feels they can’t negotiate without doing the equivalent of bellowing from the window, perhaps they need to be in different jobs.
As you can probably tell by now, I’m not a fan. My own rules of Twitter are pretty straight forward:
- If I’m in a meeting, focus on the meeting.
- If I’m at Church, focus on that.
- If I’m at an event and want to tweet, I’ll wait until a ‘natural break’ and do it then.
I recently read a good tip about the etiquette of Texting and Tweeting. Basically, imagine pulling out a crossword puzzle and doing it. If you wouldn’t do that in the situation, then you really should think hard about whether you should tweet / text (emergencies excepted, naturally!!) I was at a social event the other evening and I found that tweeting is sort of like smoking used to be (never smoked so maybe on tenuous ground here…) – it gives you something to do with your hands whilst you’re nervous!
In most meetings, unless you’re there as an observer or reporter tasked with providing a running commentary, I can’t imagine a need to Tweet that can’t wait an hour or so. So just focus on making the meeting effective.