No tweet time

Overheard at a restaurant: “It’s time to put my phone away. After these drinks, we are entering the time of the evening that I call 'no tweet time.'"

By Natalie Aho

People say the wrong thing on social networking sites all the time.

After an interview at Cisco Systems, Connor Riley (aka @theconnor) confessed in a tweet: "Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fat paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating the work.”

When an advocate for Cisco Alert stumbled across her Twitter account, theconnor's fate was sealed.

"Who is the hiring manager? I’m sure they would love to know that you will hate the work. We here at Cisco are versed in the web.” 

A juror in the UK was dismissed after disclosing sensitive case information on her Facebook profile and asking her friends to weigh in. "I don't know which way to go, so I'm holding a poll,” the juror wrote.

Unfortunately, I think these kinds of stories too often scare church, ministry and non-profit leaders away from using free and accessible social networking platforms to their full advantage.

With 68 percent of online adults now using social networking sites, we simply cannot ignore using the Internet for communication, but we do need a little help to be sure we know when it’s “no tweet time.”

I traveled recently to Minneapolis to attend the “Social Media Summer Camp” through an organization called SocialPhonics

Tony Jones, author of The Church is Flat, and Doug Pagitt, author of Church in the Inventive Age and church planter of Solomon’s Porch, created this business to train pastors, ministry leaders and non-profit leaders in the use of social media.

They make it their mission to “help you determine your own social media philosophy, so that you’ll know exactly why you’re going online each week.”

One year into earning a master’s degree in interactive communications, it was an informative week, even for me.

Churches need to engage with their community, and one form of community is online. Currently 1.8 billion people are connected to the Internet -- that’s the same number of humans that were living on the planet in the 1920s. The Internet is now how people connect, collaborate and share life.

We now have the opportunity and resources to communicate with the world and interact with it in unique and instant ways. We need to be using interactive communication as part of the shift in the way we form relationships and communicate. We can make these connections faster, wider and deeper than ever before.

We have been given a door straight into people’s worlds and welcomed with open arms. If we want to be the presence of Christ in the world, we need to go where the people are and love them. The Internet takes us right inside their living rooms, messes and all, and lets us share hope and peace to broken hearts.

Using social media may require initial work, and it may never come naturally to some. Thankfully, though, this community rewards any effort.

So, learn a few tips, know when it’s “no tweet time” and dig in. The world is waiting.

OPINION: Views expressed in Baptist News Global columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.