Emilio rises at six and starts coffee. His RSS reader has many blogs to read, plus links to a “Bible in a Year” website that sends him daily updates.
He took the weekend away from the internet, kind of a forced tech sabbath. He would have loved to have the willpower to walk away for a whole weekend. Other people do it regularly. Other people don’t feel like they have a spiritual responsibility to stay connected. Because he is so aware of the relationship element of his work as a pastor, Emilio has a hard time disconnecting from his social networks, whether face-to-face or online.
This time, however, Emilio didn’t have much choice. His parents didn’t have wifi anywhere close to their summer home and he needed the weekend away to see them. He considered the $9.95 connection at the hotel, but decided that if he needed to pay to connect “just to find out if anyone wrote to me”, then he probably needed a break.
Back in his home office this morning, recovering from being away, among the 200 new items in his reader was one that would change the week significantly. Emilio had a vanity search set up with Google, looking for his name on the internet. Usually it only showed his own writing. Today he discovered that Chris Brogan and Jon Swanson had been talking about him.
As he scanned through the post, all his social networking struggles came rushing to the front of his mind, not the least being, “What if someone from the church reads this?”
Emilio regularly wrestled with what he called his “living in two worlds” question. He had his “real world” congregation, the people he saw and talked with and cried with every day. But then he had his “digital world” friends, the people he saw and talked with and cried with…every day. To call the latter a congregation was a stretch. But they were friends, he was their touchpoint for questions about God and church. He even was in conversations once about doing a wedding for a couple he only had contact with through twitter.
If he were hired to work full-time in social media, working as campus pastor for an online campus, for example, it wouldn’t be so hard. The worlds could merge that way. Instead, like most of the people he knew in social networking, whatever their occupation, he had real world responsibilities. He had to manage a facility and visit sick people and teach and preach. He had to spend time in meetings and in counseling. He struggled to keep up with reading and silence. And he didn’t even want to think about that tech sabbath question.
He was torn: one of his worlds paid the bills. Both of them were full of people that he cared about…and for.
And now people from both groups might be reading about the other. And the people in his ‘real world’ might look at the time of his posts and think, “is he writing that on work time?”
Emilio had a funny feeling that now that people were inside his head, there were going to be a lot of conversations. Some of them were going to be pretty uncomfortable.
“But maybe ministry is supposed to be uncomfortable,” he thought. “Maybe transparency will be healthy.”