First episode is scripted! Everything’s ready to go! Recording tomorrow! I’m excited for it, but also terrified. Which brings me to my topic for today: the unique concerns and lack of example when it comes to internet ministry. On the one hand, it’s wide open! I love that about it. On the other, I’ve done lots of wavering trying to decide the best way to go about it. I think the only way I’m going to find the best solutions is to experiment and be open to failure, but I can at least share some of my ideas and questions here. Then maybe I can relax and let them go so I can finally get this thing started.
I’ve had a lot of trouble with this. Should I make an intro video? Or just dive right in? The advice I got from someone who watches a lot of video reviewers was that I shouldn’t do an intro until after I had a lot of videos, because no one will care. That makes sense, but at the same time it seems so backwards. We live in a time where people want to be entertained more than they want to understand each other. Well, I shouldn’t say it like that. Maybe it’s not the time, maybe that’s how it has always been and it’s either easier now or I just notice it because this is when I’m living and I keep hearing from previous generations that we’re worse so my mind is set up for that interpretation. It’s hard to say, since I can only speak from my own experience living in this one time period. Oh well.
This issue is pretty well solved, at least in the sense that I know I’m not going to be making an intro video. I still struggle with how much to put on the “about” page and whether I should even talk about why I’ve chosen whatever my topic of the day is. Should I just bring that over here? Hmmm…That brings me to the next issue.
Currently I have this blog and a video channel ready to go. With the youtube channel, I also have a Google+ page I could be using. I can see how that would be helpful, because I’ve occasionally thought about making a Spirit of Squee Tumblr account for sharing related things that aren’t going to make it into a full post. G+ works just as well for that and can be followed more easily if anyone’s interested. Link to new videos and blog posts I make, things other people are writing, cool new fiction, whatever.
But it does mean three separate locations for what I mostly see as one project. That’s a little weird. And sure, people following the blog will be able to see the videos anyway because I plan to post them here (more about that in the next section), and people only following the Youtube channel might not have any interest in my blog posts. In that case, it works out well that they can easily only subscribe to one or the other. And some people might want to get more involved in the conversation and comment on all the cool things I post at G+. It’s nice that there are options.
But it would be nice if there was an easy way to post to one location and just separate out sub-categories with their own feed for anyone who only wants to follow part of it. Something like G+ collections or Pinterest boards but for a blog? I don’t even know. All I know is that none of my options are perfect and I’m not 100% sure the way I’m going about things now is the best way to do it. But I suppose I’ll just try and if something pops up that might work better I’ll consider changing.
Fun vs Informative
I’ve heard that sermons should entertain, educate, and inspire. A quick Google search for the origin of this phrase doesn’t get me very far, but I do see that I’m getting a lot of business results rather than sermons in particular. Huh. Almost like some pastor that sees their church as a business and just wants to fill more seats might have adapted it. (Or someone just thought it made sense and that the same things that attract someone to a particular product might also help them engage with religion.) I also see that there is sometimes an added purpose: convince/persuade.
Well, I suppose the fact that it’s used in business shouldn’t throw me off too much. It doesn’t mean I’m a business or that I’m trying to profit off people. I just want to be interesting and put something out there that will speak to a few people, maybe give us something to discuss and share ideas. I can see why these 3 or 4 goals are useful and can help make sure my videos aren’t wasting anyone’s time. And since one of the biggest reasons I’m doing this is to become more comfortable speaking and get better at expressing my ideas, that might be helpful guideline at least to start. (And then later I can experiment and break the rules.)
It’s a difficult balance to achieve. I was told after every sermon in preaching class that I’m “too teachy” and need to be more entertaining. This is one of the reasons I want to focus on fandom and other things I enjoy – those are the things that bring out more of my squeeful, bubbly side. I’m hoping that this project of analyzing these things and then presenting them to others will help me find the middle ground.
But I’m also not quite writing/giving sermons. I’m aiming for more of a review/commentary on fiction and culture with a spiritual twist. (Occasional notes on how something might be used in values education, parallels with religious ideas, etc.) I’ve had a fair amount of practice crafting sermons at this point, none at all with reviews or with less formal talks. I worry that I don’t know how to properly analyze contemporary fiction and that it’s going to lean too far in one direction or the other. Heck, I’m sure it will. Relax, me. Mistakes are part of the learning process.
One development I’ve made so far is that I decided not to have overly “teachy” posts done as videos. For example, I’m going to be looking at a lot of stories that are retellings of the Pandora myth. Originally I had planned to do an intro video for a series on it, go over the academic background with all the research I did a few years ago before giving a sermon on Pandora. Talk about the different interpretations scholars had and what the Greek words mean, all that good stuff. You know. All that stuff most people aren’t going to care about and that I would probably not be able to discuss in an entertaining way at all, because it will instantly put me in scholar-mode.
I’ve decided instead I’ll probably make that intro post here, and then link back to it in the descriptions for any video I do in this series. In addition, I can use the blog to write out show notes for all my videos and include information that doesn’t fit the format well or would have made it too long. I think that should make it easier. And of course, I’ll still maintain this space as a personal blog and write about things other than the videos. It just means that on weeks when I post a video that will probably count as my once-a-week minimum.
And now one of the biggest concerns. I am getting so, so shy and anxious about this. I wanted to do this mostly for my benefit and also hoped that a few people who find the ideas interesting might enjoy my attempts and want to discuss it. But the internet can be horrible, and I’ve been seeing a bunch of stories recently of people being harassed for having an opinion on something as simple as shipping two characters. So part of me just hopes nobody ever sees what I post, but that defeats the purpose of doing it in the first place. Ideally I’d like a small group of friends and others who will enjoy them, not fame by any stretch of the imagination. But to have a chance at that (and to move forward with my career goals long term), I need to take the risk and put my work out there. So I’m trying to push aside that anxiety and do it anyway.
For awhile I decided I would just disable comments on the Youtube channel from the start. After all, the general rule for the internet as a whole is never read the comments, and Youtube almost seems to be worse. And that could shut down the kind of trolls who don’t want to put in any effort, just make quick “lol you suck” type posts, at least. But it might also shut out people who have something valuable to say. Maybe I could start with them turned on and go from there, turn them off if people are jerks.
I’ve put up a couple of videos before, under old accounts. One intro to Unitarian Universalism and one of me playing a video game. I don’t think either of them were seen by anyone I didn’t already know, and no comments left. So it’s not like I’m expecting a big response. Youtube is full of people making videos that will never have much of an audience. It doesn’t require much of an investment to start up a channel and post whatever you want. But every new video brings a new risk of being seen. That means an actual ongoing series that I plan to update at least once a month to start brings a lot of new risks. Scary. But I’m working on it.