There has been, in recent years, a massive increase in what is now often referred to as ‘Social Media’ – the use of networking and information sharing services via the Internet. Many people and organisations now have their own pages on Facebook, share their latest news via Twitter, or upload photos (using Facebook, Twitter, or numerous other photo sharing services). It has been said for sometime that computers and the Internet are making the world smaller – if we now live in a global village, Social Media is the village gossip enabling each of us to instantly share our news with everyone.
For some – Politicians, Civil Servants, Government Departments, Local Authorities, Journalists, Celebrities, Advertisers, and (especially) Teenagers –Social Media is now a must have. How else, in our increasingly busy and interconnected lives, are we going to stay in touch with everybody else?
Even if do not own a computer – you will have seen increasing references to Social Media in advertising, press reports, and on television or radio. We are increasingly asked to follow products on Facebook or Twitter – and it is getting increasingly impossible not to notice the increasing appearances of the # or @ symbols. The BBC, for example, likes to put a hashtag at the start of some of their programmes – #bbcqt at the start of Question Time or #hignfy before repeats of Have I Got News For you, etc. Celebrities and teenagers now use Twitter to announce everything from the mundane to latest breaking news.
You may wonder, what purpose does Social Media serve to a community like WLS; well the answer is really dependent on how we choose to use it. Many communal and religious groups are using Social Media to promote themselves, their communal events, and to identify with like minded other bodies. Since it is very much an instant medium, Social Media is a useful tool for updating information and reporting on events as they happen. Many Jewish organisations, including some Synagogues and their Rabbis, are starting to use Social Media. Liberal Judaism is on Facebook and has a twitter account (@LiberalJudaism). I suspect some of those attending the LJ Biennial Conference in April will be tweeting about events as it takes place.
Such is the spread of Social Media, that Liberal Judaism recently requested details of the Twitter accounts used by the constituent synagogues across the movement. Liberal Judaism uses Twitter to keep its followers up to date on various activities involving the wider movement, its staff or rabbis, and related organisations. By following the Twitter accounts of its constituent synagogues, LJ can keep up to date with their latest news. When LJ made their request, WLS was not using Social Media in anyway – although we did have a Facebook page or group for the 50@50 celebrations. WLS does send out a weekly e-mail message with details of forthcoming events, including services, and our website is updated every week. However, we have no mechanism for spreading urgent messages or passing on information and requests from other organisations – other than the weekly e-mails or via Bimah. Nor can we tell others what we are doing and share our news or successes with the wider world. For these reasons, we have now created an account on Twitter and we are tweeting; so if you are on Twitter please follow WLS @wls_info
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and peaceful Pesach