Methodists and Social Media

by Richard on February 2, 2010

Pete Philips reports the outcome of the Methodist Council discussion of social media

he Council has accepted the guidelines with a couple of amendments - firstly to remove the phrase ‘after the meeting’ from the citation of the Chatham House Rule. This allows for discussion of public documents prior to the meeting which would otherwise have been banned. The second amendment allows for an ‘open review’ of the guidelines now accepted and the development of a summary version of them similar to the Civil Service guidelines.

This second amendment is really important, I think. The summary will be the thing that’s actually used by most people and it will need to be very carefully worded. More important still will be the open review. Bloggers will have a key role in this. Let’s keep it gracious.

Update: Dave Warnock posts his own summary of the Council meeting

However, I hope that as we work through the review process we will also be able consider how we can engage with social media during meetings in ways that are healthy from a governance perspective while improving our openness, transparency and immediacy. For example my experiences of blogging and tweeting in meetings is that they greatly increase the care with which I listen, something that is surely to be welcomed.

And Dave Faulkner adds his thoughts

I find this hopeful, too. We shall see how Conference debates this in the summer. I might have preferred more than an ‘invitation’ to the Connexional Team to keep the guidelines under review, but I trust there will be people in the Team and on the Council who will take sufficient active interest in the matter to ensure this is not forgotten. I also think the summary will be a good move – so long as that concentrates on values, not legislation.

I’d like to echo Richard’s call for gracious participation by bloggers in monitoring and discussing this. There is no reason why that cannot be so. Indeed, it should be so for us as Christians. I know there are times when I’ve flown off the handle about something and clicked ‘publish’ or ’send’ too quickly, but a Christian approach would involve consideration before publication. That needn’t mean a lack of debate, as I see it. We don’t need to become like the Chinese public looking over their shoulders at the secret police when weighing their words for the western media.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Dave Faulkner 02.02.10 at 12:58 pm

Just to say I echo your call for graciousness, and have posted about that and other related issues on this subject at greater length. It’s about time we managed robust debate without wounding each other.

2

Tony Buglass 02.02.10 at 1:18 pm

Agreed. “Ad hominem” attacks on the person just indicates that the attacker has lost the argument already.

3

fat prophet 02.02.10 at 7:36 pm

I fully agree with both the comments above and always try to be almost a voice of reason when posting or responding to other peoples posts. Unfortunately I have been subject to one or two very sharp responses which I could so easily have responded to in like manner and started world war three in the blogosphere. I have been close to stopping blogging because of this.
I may not agree with someone else’s view but I would not insult them and would not expect to be insulted or treated harshly when I disagree any more than I would be insulting or harsh.
It is I believe always helpful to step back and consider before firing off a comment or email and considering the best way to respond and get your point over.

4

Richard 02.02.10 at 8:45 pm

Can’t argue with that, FP.

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