So I hear tell that the Kentucky Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church wants its pastors to sign an agreement so the conference can monitor all pastor’s social media (at least they list Facebook and MySpace, but I don’t really know of anyone who uses MySpace anymore.) At first I was very mad about this. After all, can the conference force me to include them as my friends on my Facebook so they can monitor all my posts? What do they actually think I put on Facebook?
Many of the comments by pastors across the country point out how silly this is (see link above) and also point out that whoever came up with this in the Kentucky Conference doesn’t seem to really understand social media at all. I have decided that whoever came up with this idea is supremely ignorant (yes….I said it) for more than the many reasons I have seen on many pastor’s blogs. My argument for the level of ignorance reflected here can be boiled down to simply this…do they even know the kind of stuff people put on Facebook?
Now, I am friends with many pastors on Facebook. I also am friends with many church members (of my church and other churches), so I can’t really tell you what a hard-core, hedonistic, non-Christian might post on Facebook (I only have a few of those kinds of friends and we don’t fellowship by Facebook). As a part-time Facebook junkie, I can share with the Kentucky Conference the level of interesting stuff they will find on Facebook.
Here is my list of what the “watchers” in the Kentucky Annual Conference will see when they observe pastor’s Facebook accounts:
- Pictures of pastor’s kids (on vacation, at restaurants, riding bikes, hanging out on the beach, sleeping on the couch)
- Pictures of pastor’s grandkids (on vacation, at restaurants, riding bikes, hanging out on the beach, sleeping on the couch)
- Pictures of pastor’s nieces and nephews (you guessed it, on vacation, at restaurants….)
- Links to great YouTube videos like the Annoying Orange, Charlie Bit Me, and the Chewy, Chewy, Chewy, Chewy Bubblegum Song
- Quotes from long dead theologians that people will “Like” but not really understand or try to live out.
- Status updates that tell where the pastor is, what they are eating, how great the fried chicken was at potluck, or how bad they need a cup of coffee (seriously, doesn’t everyone NEED a cup of coffee in the morning…and another thing – why are you posting anything on Facebook before a cup of coffee???)
- Links to pastor’s blogs, which…let’s face it…is really boring stuff. This is why pastor’s blogs don’t make money. Snooze fest – this one is no exception.
- Self-portraits (where people take their own picture with their cell phone) at really exciting places like Applebees and Lowe’s.
- Happy Birthday wishes in as many ways as one person can imagine without actually having to say, “Happy Birthday”
- Pictures of pastor’s new running shoes. Seriously Benny???
- Comments on the day’s news that turn any mild mannered pastor into “Captain Obvious”. “Wow! Did you see that goal????” “The world is really messed up!!!” “I can’t believe it!”
- 2,435 family vacation photos from the trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama or Boise, Idaho.
- An announcement about how super duper excited the pastor is about church tomorrow! It’s gonna be scrumdiddlyumptious awesome and you don’t want to miss it! (By the way, no one in South Georgia does this Tom Carruth!)
- Obvious comments about the weather. “Wow, who turned on the heat????” and “Please rain, we need you now!!!”
- Google+ invites
- Continuous observations about what’s wrong with the world. (After all, it’s everything but us, right?)
- Pastors who need materials for Farmville or have a poor puppy that you need to adopt.
- The occasional, “I clicked here and found out who’s stalking me on Facebook. Click here to see who’s stalking you!!” (You do know that’s a bug, right??)
- Pastor’s run, bike, or swim time. How come no one puts how long it takes to eat an 8-ounce filet? Next time I eat one, I’m posting my time!
- Narratives of family vacations…along with pictures.
- Pictures of dinner and dessert. After all, you can’t post a picture of dinner and not post a picture of dessert, right?
- Scripture quotations, and not the obvious ones. It’s like pastors think they might find one no one ever heard of before, like, “Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!” Exodus 4:25
- Vacation countdowns!!! Yay!!!!! “Only 1 Week til Bahamas!!!” “Only 6 days til Bahamas!!” “Only 5 days til Bahamas!!” I’m sorry, where are you going again?
- What a pastor is watching on TV. “Really fascinating Special on the Secrets of the Secret Service on Discovery!”
- Not just narratives of the weather….but….wait for it…..PICTURES of the weather!
- And for the overly ambitious, “I need a pat on the back” pastor, a list of all the work they actually did that day. “Woke early for hospitals, wrote sermon, changed tires, visited nursing home, prayed with mission team, worked on Habitat house, and served lunch in Soup Kitchen.” All before lunch.
- And finally…….pictures of kids.
There you go, Kentucky. This is what you get after thousands of hours of combing through Facebook posts. If by chance this makes it down to South Georgia, let it go on record that I do not want to serve as one of the watchers! I get to see this stuff everyday! (Where do you think I got the list?)
And one more thing…Can’t church folk police this themselves? Logic dictates if I have church folk on my Facebook page, they will keep me in check. If I don’t have any members or other pastors, then what is the worry about what a pastor puts on Facebook? Who’s gonna know?