Six Ways to Get Unfollowed on Twitter


    People follow one another on Twitter (and unfollow) for a lot of reasons, but in my book, these six things will get you unfollowed pretty quickly.

1)      Post too many times a day –  My general rule of thumb is that most people can post five times a day.  Even ten is acceptable if you have something really good to say, or if there is some special event that you are live tweeting.  But once you start crowding my feed, you are a target.
2)      Post too many times in a row – Some people post five or ten tweets in a row.  Sometimes it is a bunch of separate things all sent at once, and other times someone strings a long post into five or ten tweets.  If you want to blog, write a blog.  Either way, if you do it very often, I’m probably not going to follow you.
3)      Post too many pictures – I know everyone says that pictures attract attention, but if all you do is post a bunch of pictures, posters or memes on my feed, I’m probably not going to follow you.
4)      Post Off topic – I generally follow people because I am interested in what they post.  I completely understand that we are all human and a little “human interest” is fine.  The occasional post about your kids, or your nice dinner is okay, but if you say that your posts are about science, religion, business or whatever, and spend most of your time posting about something else, your days on my list might be numbered.
5)      Post ads – I understand that many of us are on social media to promote our place of business, books, or even ourselves.  But if all I ever see are ads instead of useful content, I’m probably not going to follow you.
6)      Post “click-bait” – We all have a variety of interests and occasionally we find interesting things that we want to share, but if the majority of your posts are links to “click-bait” advertising that looks like “Wow! Look at this Crazy Stuff!”  I’m probably not going to follow you.

    
I’m sure that  missed a few.

What have people done that made you unfollow them?



I tweet primarily about church, faith and religion, but also science, technology, the space program and the human condition.  And of course, a few about my kids.  Follow me @PastorPartridge

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Six Degrees of Social Media Separation


    In the last few decades, there has been much talk about “Six Degrees of Separation,” which is the idea that any person in the world can be introduced to any other person in the world, by being introduced through our networks of friends.  Statisticians have demonstrated that anyone in the US can be introduced to almost anyone else in the US by going through only two or three friends.  But as often as we hear such things, it is still amazing when it happens “in real life.”
    This week I received a private message on Facebook from a woman I never met.  And that was the beginning (or possibly the end) of an unusual series of connections through my life and through social media.  To understand the connections that led to this message, let me go back in time to high school.
    After my eighth grade year, my parents moved to the south side of Akron, Ohio.  At our new church I met Keith and Jamie Weaver, who would, within the next few years, depart for Kenya, East Africa as missionaries through Africa Inland Missionwhere they would serve for twenty five years.  After I graduated from college and began working in Cleveland, I was back at that same church and reconnected with Keith and Jamie during their occasional visits home. 
    When the time came for them to consider a return to the states, our church realized that no one (other than their children) had ever had the opportunity to visit them in Kenya.  Two women, Sandi, and my wife, Patti, volunteered and along with our missions committee, we decided that we would raise the funds to send them. 
    While Patti and Sandi were in Kenya visiting Keith and Jamie, they met Steve and Nancy Peifer.  Nancy was the librarian at Rift Valley Academy; Steve was the guidance counselor and also ran a feeding program at local Kenyan schools (Kenya Kids Can).
    With that as background, we return to the funeral preparations for my father.  As soon as it was available, I posted his obituary on my Facebook page and many friends, including Steve Peifer, posted their condolences. 
    The next day I had a private message.  The woman who sent that message acknowledged that we had never met. She had seen my name pop up when Steve had written on the link to my father’s obituary and it had seemed familiar.  She followed the link, read the obituary, realized who my father was, printed it, and showed it to her parents.
    What we discovered was that our fathers had sung together in college, he had been the best man in my parent’s wedding and my father had been the best man in theirs.  Our parents had exchanged letters and cards, but over the years had lost touch with one another.  She sent me a current photo of her parents to give to my mother, and I sent a current address so that they could send their condolences and reconnect.  My Mom was a little stunned when I handed her the photo and explained who it was.
    I know that we live in a connected world, but it was still exciting to see old friends reconnect because of two children on the Internet, two missionaries to Africa, an obituary, and social media.

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Sexual Predators: The Hunters and the Hunted


    I suppose it isn’t news that there are sexual predators on the Internet.  Most of us know that we live in a dangerous world and we do our best to protect our children from the worst of it.  I am an engineer and have a natural curiosity about technology.  As a result, I’m pretty comfortable, and good at, computer stuff.  Our computers at home have a firewall between the world and our little local network, another firewall on each computer, everything is password protected, we have anti-virus and anti-spam programs, and we have a fairly effective parental control program that further limits the ability of our children to roam the dark and dangerous neighborhoods of the Internet.  I thought we were doing pretty well… until Saturday.

    On Saturday my wife and I attended a seminar and listened to Detective Bobby Grizzard (pronounced like ‘lizard’ except with a ‘g’) from the Massillon Police Department.  Detective Grizzard knows more about the dangers of the Internet than your average person.  Why?  Because for five years, Detective Grizzard,  who is six-foot something and who is built more like a linebacker than an office jockey, has been “undercover” as a teenage girl pursuing online predators with the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. 
    One of the first things that Detective Grizzard told us, was that before the end of the day, as a demonstration, he would go online and engage a predator in conversation, and, if possible, would get that person to call us.  For the next several hours we learned about privacy settings, which I knew pretty well, but also about cell phone apps and devices that could give my children a shortcut around our firewalls, security settings, and parental controls.  I learned about smartphone apps with built-in virus hacks that can force your phone’s camera on so that a predator can watch and listen to what is happening in your home.  I did not know all of this and, with three teens in our home, I realized that I still have a few things to learn.
    At the end of his talk, Det. Grizzard did just as he had promised, but the demonstration was more than I expected.  He went online and within seconds had engaged several predators in conversation (posing as 15 year old girl).  In less than ten minutes he was “chatting” with ten or more of them and more were added every few minutes.  In ten more minutes he had two of these begging for his (her) phone number to call and talk live.  One of the women from the seminar volunteered to be the voice of the girl (at work, Det. Grizzard had software that changes his voice) and spoke with the man for a few minutes.  I couldn’t hear everything that he said over the speakerphone, but it was obvious from the looks of shock on the faces of some of the women in the room that the man wasn’t talking about the weather.
    When Det. Grizzard finally picked up the phone the predator immediately hung up.  It didn’t matter.  The phone number that he had called passed through the police department before being routed to our seminar.  The police department had already captured the name, address and phone number of the man before he had said his first word.
    I have always been active in maintaining the security of my children at home and on the Internet.  I thought I was doing pretty well, but I found that I have more work to do.  I always knew that there were people out there who wanted to victimize my children, but I discovered that there are more of them than I imagined.  There is new technology coming out every day.  Much of it is good, but there is some really evil stuff out there as well.
    I took two things home with me Saturday.  One, there is evil in the world that is smarter, sneakier, craftier and more persistent than we give it credit for.  Predators are cruising the Internet in search of victims.  As parents in the twenty-first century, we must me more vigilant than ever before and we must educate ourselves in order to keep our kids from becoming victims.  Two, I thank God every day for people like Detective Grizzard who go to work every day and spend time hunting for, and chatting with the vile, loathsome, scum that prey on children.  Because of men and women like Detective Bobby Grizzard all of our children are safer and we can all sleep a little better.  Thanks.

Christians are Wrong; Atheists are Right

    This week, in the span of twenty four hours, I received two invitations; one from an Atheist friend, and a second from a good Christian friend.  The atheist invitation was for International Blasphemy Rights Day (held on September 30th of each year) which “is a day to promote the rights to freedom of belief and expression and stand up in a show of solidarity for the liberty to challenge reigning religious beliefs without fear of murder, litigation, or reprisal.”  The Christian invitation was to sign a petition to force Youtube to stop a video that was blasphemous to the name of Jesus Christ. 

Wow.  

    It isn’t often that this sort of thing drops into my lap.  What’s more rare, is a situation in which I agree so strongly  with the atheists and so clearly disagree with the (well-intentioned) Christians.  To me, the atheists ‘get it’ and these particular Christians just don’t (however well-intentioned) particularly in light of recent events in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East.

   
    The United States is an amazing place.  Our Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of speech like nowhere else in the world and that gives us, as Christians, an unprecedented opportunity to compete in the arena of ideas.  I believe, as the Apostle Paul did, that Christianity is absolutely able to stand on its own in any such competition if it is given the ability to speak clearly.  Our freedom allows us to do exactly that.  My atheist friends may disagree with me on matters of faith but they understand that this same freedom allows them to disbelieve without fear of punishment or reprisal, whether from Christians, or Muslims, or anyone else.  My Christian friends want someone to protect Jesus from being defamed when, I believe, Jesus doesn’t need protecting.  First of all, Jesus is completely able to defend himself if he chooses to do so and second, Jesus chose not to defend himself when his accusers defamed him face to face.
  
    In recent days the entire Middle East has been in an uproar over a video produced by an American and released on YouTube.  In it, the Muslin prophet, Mohammad, is presented in a negative light.  This, the Islamists claim, is blasphemous.  They demand that YouTube remove the video, that the United States government require that the video be removed from the Internet and pass blasphemy laws preventing such things from happening in the future (sound familiar?).  Free speech on the other hand requires that none of this happen.  Free speech allows any of us to say things, to present a range of ideas, even offensive ones, without fear of punishment or reprisals.  If the government were to prohibit us from blaspheming Jesus, then why not do the same for Mohammad? 

    Already our friends in Canada have passed hate speech laws that make it illegal for Christian pastors to preach what the Bible says about homosexuality (even if preached compassionately and not being deliberately inflammatory)  but that same speech, unpopular or not, is still legal in the United States.  If free speech is constrained to protect Christians today, it may very well be used to harm us tomorrow.  I don’t like it when people burn flags, but I believe that it is a protected form of free speech that I am willing to protect.  I don’t like it when the KKK or other hateful groups march and spout their venom from the public square, but it too is an important example of free speech.  Just because I don’t like it isn’t a good reason to make it stop.  After all, I have things to say that other people don’t like very much and I wouldn’t want someone to decide that my speech was no longer legal.

 In this case, I think the Christians are wrong and the atheists are right.
 
Jesus is not threatened by the people who oppose him.  Christianity doesn’t need the law to protect us from blasphemy.  Jesus is more than able to compete in the arena of ideas.
The atheists are right. 
Free speech is far more valuable…
                                                           …for all of us.

A New Digital Divide – Who wins, who loses?

    As an electrical engineer as well as a pastor, I still belong to my professional society and from them I still receive a monthly magazine that keeps me up to date on current happenings and trends in my field.  This past month, one of the articles I was reading speculated on the coming of a new “digital divide” because of rising smartphone usage.  According to this article, current trends indicate that by 2013, smartphones will represent 50% of the American market.  Since, at present, 82% of all Americans (not 82% of adults, 82% of all Americans) currently have cell phones, I take this to mean that by 2013, 41% of us will have phones in our pockets that will allow us to do our banking and watch YouTube anyplace we feel like it.  
    Even worse, our cell phones are likely to see a new feature in the next generation or so.  Technology has existed for a while that allows something as small as a credit card to act as a “key.”  You may have seen these as “smart cards” where your credit card can be used to “tap-and-go.”  Until recently, cost has kept this technology from becoming widespread but recent developments have dropped the cost so significantly that it is likely that we will soon see this technology added to our phones.  The end result is that, once widely implemented, we won’t need to carry our wallets; we will be able to use our cell phone to “tap-and-go” at McDonald’s instead.  Shoot, once this is widely adopted, this same technology might be used so that our cell phones take the place of our car keys.
So why is this a problem?
    What about everyone else?  Our church has recently begun digging into demographic information about the people in our area to give us an idea of how we can better minister to their needs.  These are the people in our community and the people that God has placed in our care.  Folks around here are not well off.  We live in the foothills of Appalachia.  When I saw these articles about a “new digital divide” I got to thinking and I started digging through the demographic information of the group that makes up the large majority of our local population.  
The results are frightening.  
    To give you a better idea of who I’m talking about, here are a couple of facts.  Seventy-six percent of this group earns less than $50,000 per year and 38% less than $25,000.  Two thirds of them live in homes valued at less than $100,000 and more than half in a home valued at less than $75,000.  These are not wealthy people.  Many are retired; most have a high school diploma or less.  While more than half own a computer less than a third have an Internet connection and less than 7 percent have broadband.
    
    While full of numbers and statistics, this begins to describe a group of people who are being left behind by much of our society and culture.  While the experts predict that smartphone penetration will exceed 50% of the market in the next two years, it won’t here.  Currently only 49% of this group even owns a cell phone, far less than the national average of 82%.  Even worse, less than one person in twenty can send and receive text messages and less than one in ten has Internet access on their cell phone.
    The development of technology and our culture are not going to slow down to let people like these catch up.  Before you simply write off the less-well-to-do in Appalachia, you might also remember that many of our parents and grandparents fit this description as well. Nearly a third of these folk say that computers confuse them and they have no plans to learn how to use them.
    So what happens when your cell phone is your car keys, your wallet, your road atlas, and all-around information portal?  Worse, what happens to grandma and a whole lot of others people when they can’t?  This isn’t simply a matter of training.  We can’t just offer class to help people catch up.  These folk simply can’t afford to get on the train.  What happens when technology and our culture leave them behind?  From a ministry perspective, how do we minister to the people who are being left behind?  I’m not sure, but we had better figure it out soon. 
    This train is already leaving and we don’t have much time.

Why the Church should be on the Internet

    I was recently asked to speak at a men’s prayer breakfast and address what I felt was the future of ministry.  In my short meditation (we did want time to eat breakfast after all) I shared a few words about why I felt that the future of ministry was on the Internet.  Since this helps to explain why I invest my time and energy posting sermons online, worrying about office connectivity, podcasts and blogs, I thought that it was worth posting here.  In this way, the folks who read this blog (which admittedly isn’t a lot) can understand a little better who I am and why I do what I do.
    First of all, I admit that I’m a geek.  I was the kid in school who was smallish, bookish, played in the band and tried the chess club for a while.  I did eventually grow a few inches and put on a few pounds during college and ten years in the Army Reserve but with a degree in electrical engineering, my fondness for computers and electronic and science related toys remains obvious.  Regardless, there are a few facts (statistics) that we all need to confront.
    Ninety-Eight percent of all homes in the United States have a television but the television people are seeing a noticeable decline in television ratings as more and more of their audience members are leaving to spend time on the Internet or watch movies delivered in the mail or over the internet.  Today, 35 percent of all adults in the US have a profile on Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn.  This is already a lot of people but also understand that this number has quadrupled in only three years.  Nearly 90 percent of students access the Internet every single day and spend an average of 28 hours per week doing it.  Of these, 65 percent (students aged 12-17) will log on to social networks such as Facebook and MySpace.  While the younger age groups use social networking more and older Americans tend to use it less, these numbers are growing across the board.  (See more of these statistics here: http://en.kioskea.net/news/11805-social-network-use-by-adult-americans-on-the-rise-survey)
    Obviously, scripture doesn’t say anything specifically about television or the Internet but it does have something to say about where and how we do ministry.  Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4) and her entire village came to faith.  Jesus met her where she lived because a Samaritan would have never been welcome in the Jewish Temple, the church of its day.  In Acts 2, we read about the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God came down from heaven and entered into the followers of Jesus Christ.  What they did next is instructive.  Instead of remaining where they were and celebrating the great gift that had been given to them, every one of them, both men and women, left the place where they had gathered and went out into the streets to tell others about  Jesus.  Because this happened on Jewish feast day, the streets were full of people from across the known world.  
    Throughout the span of the New Testament, Jesus and his followers preach the good news in synagogues, in marketplaces, in the temple courts, in the street and in the countryside.  In Acts 17, Paul meets the men of Athens where they have gathered to discuss philosophy.  In each case, Jesus and his followers demonstrate by their example that the good news should be taken to where the people are and not wait for unbelievers to come to them.  Two hundred years ago, John Wesley (the founder of Methodism) broke from the tradition of the Church of England and dared to preach outside the four walls of the church.  Wesley felt that the church had abandoned many who no longer felt comfortable or welcome in the church and so he went out and preached in the open air in parks, near coal mines, and anyplace where he could find people who were interested in hearing the words of God.  The preaching of Wesley and his followers resulted in many thousands coming to Christ and was instrumental in launching the Great Awakening.   
    The common thread remains that the Gospel message was taken out of the church and out to where the people were.  Today, the public gathering place is electronic.  For our society, the place where people gather is no longer the synagogues, the markets and the temple courts but on the Internet.  
    If we are to be true to the example of Jesus and his followers, we need to be there too.