Some people think I'm a technological genius because I blog, Tweet, etc. But here's a little secret: I'm only technologically advanced when it comes to other middle-aged priests. Many of my colleagues make me look like a veritable Steve Jobs -- the only real similarity is that we both wear a lot of black shirts.
I'm not sure how I ended up behind the technology curve. Granted, some of it has to do with my age. My two teenage boys look at me like I have three heads when I tell them about the computers we had at Gilman Middle School in the early 1980s. Actually, that should read computer (singular) since we only had one. It was named Hughie(sp?) and it was basically a refrigerator-sized calculator. Please don't tell Ben and Zak that the only reason they exist at all is because I wanted free at-home tech support.
The irony is that my late father was always ahead of everyone else with these things. We were the first ones on our block to have a Betamax. Remember those? You could record TV shows to watch later! Unfortunately VHS won that battle and we were stuck with a Betamax. But he was also the first one to get a CD player. Some of this was practical because his first recording (he was a symphony orchestra conductor) came out on cassette, LP, and this fancy new thing called a compact disc.
I remember walking into Tower Records in Manhattan to buy my very first CD and seeing a tiny section of them maybe the size of your average church altar. I brought it up to the counter (it was a Cars CD as I recall) and the girl behind the counter looked at me and said breathlessly "You have a CD player?" I was a playah! Well, I would have been if girls didn't terrify me.
All of which is a preamble to the fact that I now, years after it came bursting onto the scene, have an account on Instagram. Frankly, I joined it as a way to calm my nerves during the Ravens playoff game against the Patriots last Saturday (we will not speak of the result).
I'm still figuring it out but I like it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram all have their own languages and
vibes. Instagram is all about images and it's fun to take pictures of odd or unusual things as you move about the day. Mostly they're things I'd notice anyway but not give any real thought so Instagram seems to heighten one's awareness, not take away or distract. Ultimately it's just another way of being connected to people and that's a gift.
Granted some people post nothing but selfies (unfollow) or post way too often (unfollow) or post nothing but pictures of their cats (unfollow). But there are also many imaginative and beautiful images that people share, offering insights into their days or their lives. It also allows me to see some unique perspectives from the lives of some of my parishioners. I have a policy of never following or sending friend requests to folks in my parish -- I always say yes or follow back if they send me a request. I just never want to put anyone in the position of having to say no to their priest.
So, if you're on Instagram, look for me. You can follow me @Father_Tim. I'll be the one posting pictures of coffee (unfollow).