God Loves Women

A blog sharing my love of God, the love He has for women and my frustration that the Church often doesn't realise this

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CNMAC: Some Thoughts...

Posted by God Loves Women on November 11, 2013 at 7:05 AM

You may have seen a blog I wrote last month about the Christian New Media Awards 2013 (CNMAC). At the time I began formulating some thoughts about the Christian Twitter World (not sure if I should capitalise it, as if it were an actual organised entity, but I have… ). Many conversations with some lovely people and some time with the Lord later, I thought it would be good to try and formulate my thoughts into a blog. So welcome along to the thought train (begins dancing around the room singing about the thought train to the tune of “love train” by the O’Jays…sits down calmly and begins writing.)

 

I’ve been on Twitter for a couple of years and I love it! I have met many of my Twitter friends, meeting for dinner, going to their house for tea (Mr GLW was rather concerned about this one, but it turned out she was a great cook, fun friend and not a raging psychopath), meeting at events like The Gathering of Women Leaders, and other such frivolity filled places. I would consider some of my best friends to be people I met through Twitter. Alongside meeting people offline, Twitter is a place I have been challenged and encouraged, prayed for and loved, and where I hope I have offered such things to others. A significant amoung of where I am spiritually, politically and philosophically has come through interactions on Twitter and through reading people’s blogs. All in all, I think Twitter is fabulous.

 

However, (there’s always a however, isn’t there…?) when the experiences I have online become labelled with a hashtag, talked about in terms of increasing my “platform” or when people I consider to be my friends and fellow travellers on the journey of life (those whom I follow or who follow me) are turned into a currency of either influence or a measurement of my value, I feel sick.

 

You’d have thought that my love of Twitter would have led me to feel excited and hopeful about the CNMAC conference last week. However, after aring my view on the awards I began feeling uncomfortable about the conference as well. I did attend the conference in 2012 and although the Twitter banter through the day was amazing, I only briefly connected offline with a couple of people I knew from Twitter. I found the conference really hurt my brain (not in a “good and thinking” type way; in a bad, “I can’t read twitter, follow a twitterfall, respond to Twitter, and listen to a speaker all at once” way.) I felt lonely and sad and disconnected all at once. The best point of the day was randomly having tea with some fun people, who had to endure my moaning about needing food *immediately*.

 

Why is it that Twitter can be such an amazing place, but CNMAC, a gathering focussed on doing “digitally better” can leave me feeling lonely and alienated? Then a thought struck me (not like actually physically hit me, more like a slow dawning realisation… ).  There are two main groups on Twitter.

 

  1. The Car Enthusiasts. They love their car, they like to make improvements on their cars and have the best cars they can. They want to attend car conventions to talk about how amazing their cars are and visit stalls which give them handy tips on maximising the output of their cars. They polish their cars, talk about their cars and enjoy their cars.
  2. The Journeyers. These people like hanging out with their friends. In fact, they like journeying with their friends. And to do that they need a car. The Journeyers, don’t really care about the car, as long as it doesn’t breakdown. But all the car is to them is a vehicle with which to go on a journey with their friends.

 

I’m always a bit worried about labelling people. In fact, I refuse to be labelled, hate “Myers Briggs” and even mute my SatNav so it can’t tell me what to do (you may laugh, but I am following the map, not being told where to go. Hmph!!). So please don’t take my two categories as rigid, immovable ideas. They are purely an illustration, and I doubt many people fit into either of the two categories fully.

 

I am a Journeyer. Twitter and blogging for me is about enjoying the journey with a group of people, some I agree with fully, some I rarely agree with, but still they all make the journey what it is, and actually together our discussions may change the direction of the journey and I find myself going on a whole new route because of the conversations going on in the car.

 

I feel that the CNMAC agenda and organisation is run primarily by Car Enthusiasts. Their explicit aim is one of excellence. One which makes sense for having a good car, but less so for having a good journey (I guess having an excellent car may make the journey smoother, but actually for me an old banger adds to the character of the journey, even if it is a bumpier ride). I feel disengaged from the CNMAC conference and awards not because there is anything wrong with them per se, but because their aims for social media are not my aims and they get excited about totally different things than the things I get excited about.

 

I worry that by posting this blog, I may upset people.  They may feel a) I’m falsely dividing people and b) I’m wrong. However, I feel in order to clarify my thoughts, this blog explains where I’m currently at. But hey, hop in the car with me and let’s discuss it further.

Categories: The Church, Revelations

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5 Comments

Reply Claire Maxim
7:44 AM on November 11, 2013 
Great, thought provoking post. I went to CNMAC13 (& 12, & 11) primarily to meet people I don't otherwise see. And this year I took the decision not to tweet, to sit at the back so I couldn't read the twitter fall, and actually listen to what was being said. And because I am not very good at sitting and listening, I did some simple knitting. It worked well for me, and avoided the input overload I'd have suffered (and that you get too!)
I don't relate so much to your excellence point, simply because I take that aspect of CNMAC with a huge pack of salt. The conference is trying to reach a huge range of people - some of whom adore their tech, and some who don't do tech at all - I met one lady on Saturday who was taking note of twitter names so she could follow some people if she ever set up an account. I share your concerns at the awards - I am all for sharing good website design ideas, I am less clear that awards for blogging and tweeting Christians are A Good Thing (even though I love Benedictines blog). But on the other hand, encouraging Christians to do what they do as well as they can seems like a sensible idea. I'd rather be encouraged to drive better by a driving instructor petrol head - so it makes sense to give a bit of space for people who genuinely want me to do better - even if their idea of better doesn't align exactly with mine.
This year, I felt like a bit of a rebel at CNMAC. I left sessions where I didn't engage with what was being said, I didn't join the parallel twitterstream, and I didn't agree with everything I heard. But I did meet some old friends and some new ones, which is surely the point of any gathering.
To end this long ramble where I began, thanks for writing this post, thanks for the thoughts it provokes, and thanks for your twitter presence too.
Reply God Loves Women
8:44 AM on November 11, 2013 
Hey Claire,

Thanks for you comment! Really appreciate your thoughts! I can see what your saying, especially helpful to think about a "petrol head driving instructor :-)

I really appreciate your presence online too!! :-)
Reply Eddie
8:57 AM on November 11, 2013 
I've had my reservation about the awards side of this event since they were called the Christian blog awards - I probably first blogged about them six or seven years ago. The Car Enthusiast side of me sees those reservations as still relevant and as time has moved on, I'd add one or two more.

However, it is as a Journeyer that I've been struck by the event this year.

A number of people involved with the event have been hyper-sensitive about any engagement which was seen as even slightly critical. This is odd coming from an event which is predicated on judging the work and engagement of others. The highpoint of this was the tweeter who opined that everyone who was critical of the event was just jealous because they hadn't been shortlisted for a prize. "FACT"

Thankfully, I know that that sort of opinion is not representative of everyone who attended, but that it should even be a minority position bothers me.
Reply Esther Emery
9:00 AM on November 11, 2013 
I appreciate these thoughts. they seem wise and genuine. I struggle a lot with this. I left the Internet entirely because I was fed up with the Car Enthusiasts. I came back as a Journeyer. But now I am working on publishing a book, and that's a pretty shiny car. I do get distracted sometimes from the journey. Thanks for being honest about where you are. It's helpful.
Reply Neil
11:02 AM on November 11, 2013 
I think the car enthusiast illustration captures this well.

I considered going to the event this year as I'm interested in Social Media, blog (though naming the blog here would be self publicity) and do twitter. In the end I didn't go but followed some of the twitter comments, something I've done for other events as well. My observation from following an event when you are not present is that fewer tweets which capture the main points and offer personal reflection are much easier to follow than huge numbers of tweets which give running commentary. Of course people tweet at events for different reasons, some to tell people what they are up to, some to interact with the people at the event. But sometimes, too much noise detracts from what people are saying and events encouraging tweeting might actually be self defeating.

I suspect pan-christian gatherings and events like CNMAC tend to create a sense that because everyone has put in loads of work and because we are striving for excellence anything you tweet or say 'can't critique' and 'must be positive'. Or to put it another way, the car enthusiasts exert a subtle pressure on the journey people not to suggest the car needs washing. Which is odd because I suspect many of the contributors are folk who enjoy engaging and debating with people.

The seeds of the problem may lie in its apparent success. As the event grows, budget's get bigger and the need for good publicity increases because next year we've got an even bigger venue to fill - all of which makes the event seem more like the Motor show.