Not too long ago, one of the staff decided we needed to be on Twitter, as Circle of Hope, to talk to Tweeters. About 20 million Americans access Twitter about once a month. A lot of them are in the age group we like to influence. A lot of them influence the age group we like to influence.
So the staff got excited about this initiative and put the word out on the Dialogue List. We are @CircleofHopeNet. They even put a tweety on the announcement! They didn’t mean it to be a major use of their time; just more fun ways to get the word out.
Not too long afterward a person wrote in to the Dialogue List and said, “This is sad.” Not too long after that another person wrote in and said, “Unsubscribe!” We had a micro-protest about Twitter! No doubt there are many other people who would have protested or unsubscribed had they checked their email!
I would like to make a gentle defense of Twitter-using. In the interest of full disclosure, I am @rodofcircle. I use it mainly for fun. The fact that I wrote this blog will also be made known to my few “followers.”
My main defense is this: Twitter is a tool. You don’t have to be a tool of Twitter. It is like
Using a tool implies that you are making something. In this case Twitter could be building some community with people who use Twitter.
Not using Twitter is fine. Just because the staff is communicating that way doesn’t mean we have all succumbed to virtuality or that Joshua will be on a jumbotron next week at the PM. If you know of someone who is addicted to Twitter and not making relationships face-to-face, please do what you can do to help them. But not using Twitter out of some prejudice or knee-jerk reaction to anything faddish seems kind of ungenerous, maybe even fearful.
One the other hand, just going along with every social-networking thing the world produces isn’t necessarily action, either. Being tossed by every whim of technology could corrupt your soul. We are being assaulted on every side by some new invasion of our humanity by communication devices. Resisting is important.
I am not sure the Apostle Paul would have used Twitter; but it wouldn’t surprise me if he loved it. When Paul is working on how believers relate to the world, he has a lot to say (just do a little search of “world” in the internet Bible program). To the Corinthians he said, “I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.“ He finds it kind of obvious that we would lose our purpose if we left the world, somehow. He’s all about the mission.
I suppose the Twitter-objectors might be judging the Twitter-users of the church and deciding not to associate with such immoral people. I doubt it. (But I am checking.) I suspect they are more concerned that we are becoming like the foolish people of the world, sucked into our devices and calling it relating. If that is their point, I think they have a good point. I think Paul’s point is that we don’t need to leave the world before our time. We’ll be associating until the time for associating is up. I think I am agreeing with Paul when I say that we don’t need to be “of” the world, but we do need to transform it. If God can be a baby and end up a slave to the world, I can hold my nose and use Twitter to communicate with the Twitterians.
Actually, I think Twitter is kind of fun. But I don’t recommend it to people who don’t want to use it to communicate for some eternal purpose. I don’t really do much, consciously at least, that doesn’t have some connection to Jesus, so Twitter is just one more thing. If you aren’t able to use it for mission, reject what you like. If I am trying to make an eternal difference, just pray for me if you think I am using questionable means. For me, Twitter is just another chance to give some news, be vulnerable, share a small touch of love or joy. It is like a tweet, but it is still music.