Doing Church in a Digital Age, Part 5--A Media "End Run"
I can tell I've been musing a bit too much on this subject of doing church in the age of the internet: now I'm getting thoughts come to me in the middle of the night! Last night, after having routinely checked my Twitter account to read up on Lance Armstrong's experiences at the Tour of Italy, it really smacked me: Lance is giving us a dramatic example of how it's now possible to do an "end run" on traditional media. At the moment, Lance is refusing to speak to the news reporters in Italy. Instead of giving them a few comments after a stage is finished, he goes straight to the team bus. (The reason for this has to do with apparent criticisms the media have made of him after he allegedly prompted the stage in Milan to be neutralized after he and other riders felt it was too dangerous to ride.) But just because Lance is refusing to speak to the world media in Italy doesn't mean he's silent! No, he has his Twitter account, followed by over 925,000 people (many of whom are reporters who quote from it!). Furthermore, Lance has linked his Twitter account to his Livestrong.com site, where he uploads videos he and his friends make directly from the team bus, the training table, his hotel rooms, wherever. If you follow Twitter and link to Livestrong, you actually get more (and more personal) news on Lance than was ever possible before. And...(this is the great part, for Lance, at least)...he gets to control exactly what you see and hear. It's customized news reporting! All of us have been watching the end of printed newspapers; well, now we're watching the end of traditional news reporting in general! Talk about flattening! As more and more news consumers get used to this form of media (and reject the traditional forms of reporting, even those on the web!), how will churches keep up, I wonder? It's incredible: in the past six months, since Lance has been Tweeting, we're watching a major change in how news get reported. Along with this, across the world, YouTube videos are now posted by amateurs about news events well before traditional cameras ever get to the scene. Dizzying, eh?