Information and the Future

This is the blog of the Information and the Future task force of the Rolfing Library at Trinity International University. The IF task force exists to explore the role of libraries in the future of Christian higher education.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Youth Ministry Connections Discussion of Blogging and Networking

The Youth Ministry Connections group on campus hosted a lunch session on Monday, 10/23, to discuss blogging and social networking websites. Information was presented by Divinity students and youth pastors Justin Bailey and Justin Young. Justin Bailey began the session by giving an overview of the history of blogging and discussing it from a Christian perspective. He mentioned that the paper on which his presentation was based should be published next spring in the book, Everyday Theology. Justin Young followed by discussing the pro's and con's of blogging from a youth pastor's perspective. I have placed a copy of JB's powerpoint on the F drive at F:\DATA\Tech Services\Administration\IF task force\Blogging. JY's presentation is available at http://www.snipurl.com/blogworkshop.

There were a few things that struck me from the presentations. JB discussed the point that many people, youth or otherwise, seem to use their blogs as confessionals. Cut off from a priest, pastor, or significant religious community, people will invite their readers into their lives to hold them responsible for their actions and to provide encouragement and exhortation. This is something I've seen in my own blog "community". Someone will confess to an action, thought, or feeling and the commentors will offer encouragement and often some form of absolution. JB also discussed the danger of "emotional promiscuity" on blogs, especially teenagers' blogs. Teens will take many risks in letting their emotions hang out on their blogs for all the world to see.

JY discussed the authenticity provided by blogging as one of the pro's and the anonymity as one of the con's. Blogging offers an opportunity for bloggers to present their whole selves to view and scrutiny. For a youth pastor this can be a blessing as it allows others to see him apart from his position. At the same time time there is a disconnect between the person writing and what appears on the screen. Because a blogger does not have to provide her real name or any factual information about herself it can allow her to take risks she might not otherwise take. The combination of these two points reminded me of a comment movie director Kevin Smith once made on his own website. Often people would think they knew him because of his postings but he pointed out that they only know what he let them see. The authenticity of the blog can be tempered by the knowledge that the blogger does not have to be telling the truth. Are you seeing the person or, as in the Matrix, only the digital projection of their mental self?

Following JY's presentation there was an opportunity for questions and discussion. While the presentations focused more on blogging and its usefulness for youth pastors, the discussion emphasized the use of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. It was noted that rather than being content-driven like blogs these sites functioned more like instant messaging with continuous conversations. There was also a discussion of the concept that even though blogs are public postings on the web students retain a sense of privacy when posting so that a youth minister reading students' blogs or lurking on MySpace conversations might be seen as evesdropping. JB mentioned that he lets students know that if they join the youth group blogring he will read their posts and gives them the option to lock him out if they prefer.

1 Comments:

  • At 8:32 AM, Blogger Matt said…

    I think that the pros and cons of blogging starting on slide 28 of Justin Young's powerpoint are especially interesting. Unlike the first 27 slides they are mostly self explanatory.

    We also discussed at the session if blogging is a tool to promote community or a distraction that keeps people from experiencing genuine community. Which obviously leads to reflecting on what do we really mean by community anyway?

     

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