I’ve never watched “Pretty Little Liars,” but the show is helping change television forever. Its marketing and publicity teams huddle in a conference room while the show airs to tweet live with fans. As a result, their show was ranked number one for the week of June 16-22.
Tweeting during live TV shows is here to stay, for five reasons. First, it draws younger viewers, creating conversations and driving ratings. Second, live tweets make viewers more likely to watch the show when it airs rather than recording it and skipping the commercials. Advertisers think that’s a great idea. Third, tweeting during television draws in people who wouldn’t have watched otherwise but follow the Twitter feeds of those who do. Fourth, live tweeting constitutes a free focus group for writers and producers. Fifth, those who follow the show on Twitter when it airs are more likely to follow news about the show year-round.
Other social media channels are being used during live TV as well. Network employees monitor Pinterest during the show and pin fashion tips. They take snippets of scenes to show on Tumblr. And actors take selfies of themselves to post on Instagram while live tweeting.
How does all this innovation make you feel? Computer scientist Alan Kay defines technology as “anything that wasn’t around when you were born.” Young people have grown up in a world where Facebook and Twitter are as commonplace as radio and television. On the other hand, the “new media” is still new to me. I’m old enough to remember the day when television consisted of three networks and an invention called UHF (my sons have no idea what that is).
As the saying goes, we’re down on whatever we’re not up on. The music we liked as teenagers is the kind of music we’ll like for the rest of our lives. We all want a sense of normalcy amid the swirling vortex of our technological age. It’s easier to ignore innovation we don’t think we need than to keep up with it.
I’m conflicted on this issue. On the one hand, I’m convinced that Jesus wants us to use every means at our disposal to share the good news of his love. If a doctor discovers a cure for Alzheimer’s, she will want to share the news on every media platform she can. On the other hand, immersion in the media of our day can drown out what matters most. Americans watch 34 hours of TV a week, but spend five hours a week socializing with others.
The “low whisper” of the Spirit is hard to hear over the wind, earthquake, and fire (1 Kings 19:11-13). We need time to be still and know he is God (Psalm 46:10). So let’s make space to listen to God’s voice in our souls, then use the technology of our day to share his word with our world.
Aldous Huxley worried that “technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.” How do you feel about the moral trajectory of our day? Pablo Picasso added that “computers are useless. They can only give you answers.” What the world most needs is hope. And there’s only one “God of hope” (Romans 15:13). How will you seek and share his love today?