The Twitter Debate: To Use or Not to Use?

Yesterday’s blog drew a good number of reactions from thoughtful folks. Here are a few responses to comments from yesterday’s post.

Many Christians will use Twitter or their Facebook status relatively responsibly. Many, for the most part, won’t be narcissistic, self-promoting, time-wasters, and so on. Great.

Many others, however, will not. And thus Facebook and Twitter and their blog will often be used, as much of life in our day is, for narcissism, self-promotion, immaturity, and time wasting, while really important things go undone.

facebookAfter a while of thinking about Christianity and culture, I’m not one to say that all things are worthy of engagement by Christians. I’m in no hurry to see a movement of Christians embrace jello-wrestling as a means of evangelism, for example. Can Twitter be used for good? Yes, it can. I think it will take some effort and intentionality to do so, though, because I think it’s inherently structured to share generally needless information. I’ve done some research in thinking about this, reading various folks’ Twitter accounts, and I can say that rarely do I find them edifying or meaningful. They’re sometimes funny, sometimes amusing, but rarely are they really edifying. Often–most often, I would say–they focus on mundane things that in my opinion do not need to be shared. I have yet to see a good case for why you, the reader, need to know that I just drank a hot chocolate and that I like hot chocolate. Why do you, the reader, need to know this?

As technology and other factors fragment society, it seems to me that we need to focus a great deal on meaningful face-to-face interaction. This doesn’t preclude email, blogging, or whatever, but I don’t think the answer to a high-paced world is an avalanche of rather unimportant communication about mundane things. Doesn’t it seem natural to a Christian to focus most of their attention in such a situation on the cultivation of real, substantive communication? Maybe it’s just me, but that seems obvious.

If our world makes it difficult for us to meaningfully connect (and it does), why accommodate? Why not push back?

The public nature of Facebook and Twitter concerns me. It’s one thing to text a friend. It’s another to tell 500 people. I don’t need to stand up in a crowded cafeteria and shout, “I JUST BOUGHT THE TATER TOTS! THEY’RE SMELLING GREAT!” Why should I do this on the Internet? How does this help my Facebook friends to know and love me? I personally don’t write my parents, who live far away from me, with a list of what I eat or do in a given day. There is no need, and the communication of such things may, it seems, ultimately cheapen the sharing of real news. If I don’t tell these things to my parents, why should people I barely know learn these things?

I’m not against Facebook or blogging or texting. I use and do all of these media. But I don’t believe the modern myth that all technology has to be good simply because it’s new and fun and simple. I don’t believe that. I follow David Wells in seeking to understand that the use of technology can shape our souls. It can make us thin, it can make us distractable, it can make us shallow, it can make us narcissistic. So I’ll use some new media, but very carefully. Other new media I’ll just avoid, especially when it seems to give as little payback as Twitter does.

With all this said, many of the people who disagree with me are mature, godly, helpful, insightful, faithful people. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go scratch my back. After that, I plan on pacing the room for a bit; then, I’m contemplating maybe getting some water; after that, who knows? The possibilities of minutiae are endless!

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  • Al

    Yes, I use facebook, and I do try to add a new comment each day. However, I try to state, at least some of my comments, in a way that would show my connection to my God. I have avoided add-ons,for the most part, and doing games.

    I am turned off by the number of Christians you do post regarding the need for coffee, for example, and how great their day is going because of the coffee. (Is this really their testimony??) Etc.

    Thoughts of quitting it have crossed my mind. Yet also here are opportunities to be a light.

    I do pray that I might do this well.

  • Thanks for these thoughtful posts bro. I recently pulled the plug on facebook, and don’t miss it a bit. It was just one more un-needed distraction. Twitter. . . call me old school, but I just don’t get it.