Going Viral with The Doctor

I attended the Church and Media Conference in Swanwick last week. As together we enjoyed the good food and convivial atmosphere, we shared in sessions about the future of the Media.

Our opening keynote address was from Elaine Storkey. Among other encouraging words, she reflected on the way people use social media, and the sheer scale of the thing. One statistic stuck in my mind – that one in twelve of the world’s population is a regular user of Facebook.

Tweets

I had my own taste of the power of social media as the Conference came to an end. Our speaker Danny Cohen, the controller of BBC One, covered a wide range of topics in conversation with Andrew Graystone. He promised that Songs of Praise would still be around for its sixtieth anniversary in ten years’ time. He also revealed some news about Doctor Who, that there wouldn’t be a full series of the sci-fi favourite in 2012 but there would be more for Who fans in 2013. I was one of several people in the hall who had been tweeting through the Conference, sending out short summaries or comments on what speakers had said. So I tweeted what the controller said about Doctor Who. I hadn’t realised just what I’d done.

My tweet was retweeted by a hundred people, whose retweets were then retweeted hundreds more times. I received responses from other Twitter users, some grateful, some mocking and some insulting. Then the BBC’s entertainment correspondent wanted to speak to me, and then the story started appearing on dozens of blogs and fansites. My tweet was made a “top tweet” by Twitter. Eventually Doctor Who supremo Steven Moffat commented on the story, a story that had started with one comment at a Christian conference and one tweet.

To my mind there were two more significant stories in what Danny Cohen said, which I had also tweeted about. One was Songs of Praise and the other was to do with the representation of Christians on television in everyday situations, but sadly it was the Doctor who grabbed the time and space.

The internet is a big scary place, but it’s a place where we can all make a difference. Our unconsidered tweets and status updates, our blogs and podcasts can influence people. Our responsibility is to make sure our influence is for godliness, for righteousness, and for the coming of the Kingdom of God.

One and Many

My final thought comes from my recent readings in John’s gospel. In John 6 Jesus speaks to many thousands of people in one big crowd. But in the preceding chapters his dealings are with individuals: a woman at a well in Samaria, a royal official with a poorly son, a disabled man at the pool of Bethesda. Sometimes we reach the many, but more often we speak to individuals, and individuals matter. Whether we broadcast or write for millions, or speak to one colleague or one person in need, every word we say matters and can be for the blessing of the ones that God loves.

One Response to Going Viral with The Doctor

  1. Dear Wayne,
    Praise the lord. Couldn’t agree more with your words.I’m a newish Christian, I came through alcoholics anonymous,. I now work in the field of addiction and also facilitate a 12 step prayer group at Ivy Machester, we help ANYONE who has anything in there life that’s causing a problem. It’s amazing, all God given. Thanks again for sharing your gift.
    Kind regards clare Kennedy

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