Is it Wrong to RT Yourself?

Recently, I wrote about “your best image now” based on a WSJ essay on bragging and social media.  The piece raised many good questions for me, including one I’ve been turning over in my mind for a long time: is it wrong for me to RT material about me?

So you know, “RT” doesn’t “Remotely Tazer” or “Radically Transgress.”  It means “re-tweet,” and so it applies to Twitter.  If someone says something nice about you–”@collinhansen wrote a great story”–should you RT it, and pass it along to all of your followers?  Is that fine, or is it a violation of Proverbs 27:2, which reads: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips”?

This is a complex matter, as I said a few days ago.  Social media has changed things.  It’s tricky to know where to find exact boundaries.  Some would say, of course, that you should never RT material about yourself, because yes, it is a direct violation of Proverbs 27:2.  I get that.  I’m sensitive to it.  In fact, in many cases, if someone has said something complimentary about my writing/speaking, I purposefully do not re-tweet it.  I suppose that this is a policy rather than an unbroken law, but it is indeed my general rule.

But other situations raise more complex questions.  If a news outlet, say The Gospel Coalition, has sent out word to their followers about a piece I’ve written, should I RT it?  Or if a small media company has done a video with a pastor about sanctification that aims at building believers up in the faith, should he RT it?  In both of these instances, I can see an argument for passing on word about it to people who might want to see it.  There is, after all, a ton of media produced nowadays.  If you want content to be consumed and actually helpful to people, you may feel a desire to do your part and notify people about it.

I do this with Facebook and Twitter.  If I blog here, I’ll post it on both of these outlets.  That lets people know about it.  And if a site is running a piece I’ve written, I’ll often let folks know about it.  In doing so, by the way, I feel a tension.  There is a gray area in such decisions.  Am I being self-promoting?  Well, maybe.  I can be honest about that.  Is that my primary motivation?  I certainly hope not.

So I guess I can say this: I understand never RTing yourself.  But many of us who want to edify and strengthen God’s people and promote the gospel find ourselves in a brave new media world where publishers and sites actually kind of count on you to publicize your content and put it before its target audience.  Many of us who are not currently blockbuster authors must therefore travel to the aforementioned “gray area” with regularity.  To RT or not to RT?  That is the question.

Here’s where I land.  I want to be scrupulous about self-promotion.  So that’s my first priority.  (Feel free to sound off in the comments–is my model self-promoting?)  My second priority is to try and put good resources before people in a non-invasive way.  That seems to be part of the work of writing and contending and speaking today.  I see the gray area, and I try to focus on getting out gospel-driven material, much as doing so–like preaching or pastoring or leading or almost any human activity–places me in the possible position of self-exaltation.

In all of this, I am aware of my sin and human penchant for self-deception.  I am constantly reminded by the nature of questions like this one of my need to confess sin to God and to ask the Spirit to continue changing me into the image of Christ in a comprehensive, holistic, across-all-plaforms kind of way.


  • Dustin Ellington

    This is a good model because you are trying to be responsible both with self-examination and with your stewardship of what you do indeed have to say to people. At the same time, you admit it’s gray and that you might make mistakes with it.

  • John Watson

    Good word, Owen, thanks for sharing. I believe you are in good company with your concerns and your desire to be God-exalting and God-glorifying. I recall some similar posts on Jim Hamilton’s blog several months ago. Might be worth a look and helpful to others wrestling with these important issues:

    And this one too,

  • bbbbarry

    It seems that we can all profit from distinguishing between different kinds of self-promotion. As a business, it’s great to advertise. If you owned a grocery store, you’d never wring your hands about whether it’s ok to tell people there’s a sale going on.

    As an individual, it’s not great to say “Hey, look how great I am.”

    So – if you run a blog, a blog that covers topics of importance, and a national paper carries your story, I say that’s more like the grocery store.

    Couldn’t we come up with two different terms for this? To catch it all under “self-promotion” seems like a guarantee that we’ll never get beyond the hand-wringing.

  • BC

    I’m not sure that I’d worry about this all that much. People’s responses offer a fairly persuasive corrective, if necessary. If you’re out there shouting, as it were, “I’m awesome!” and you’re not, people will stop paying attention. If you’re out there shouting, as it were, “I’m awesome!” and you, in fact, are, more people will pay attention. Now, if the former is the case and you continue to go around shouting “I’m awesome!” there might be a problem.


  • Geoff Lanotte (@glanotte)

    For what it is worth, I follow several authors on twitter. Several of them with RT positive reviews of their book(s). My only issue is when that is all that they do or they do it in excess. I have stopped following two authors of books that just cluttered up my stream with 10+ RTs every day. I don’t know where that line is where it starts to rub me wrong, but it is there.

    I admit that I am a bit persnickety when it comes to my twitter stream, so I am sure others have different thresholds.

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  • Joseph Sunde

    Often times I think it’s good to inform “the tribe” on what others are saying about your stuff, good or bad. It can certainly get overkill if you cross the line, but much of the time I don’t see it as much different than including testimonials on the back of a book. If others are recommending your work, why is it that much different than recommending your own? I actually think someone else’s opinion can often be more valuable and tactful than recommending it yourself. As another commenter noted, there is certainly a line, and I’ve unfollowed plenty of people whose Twitter feeds are that and only that (Eric Metaxas and Jonathan Merritt, I’m looking at you).

  • Dane

    Thanks Owen. Good post. A few thoughts come to mind that I submit to your wisdom…I’ve been discussing these things with a friend so it’s fresh on my mind…

    1. I have at times retweeted a link to something I’ve said on the other side of the online universe. Doubt it was sin but I still felt a little dirty.

    2. An important factor here, infrequently discussed, is conscience. The weaker brother/stronger brother of 1 Cor and Rom has lots to say here. Self-retweeters should not ‘despise’ (Rom. 14:3) non-self-retweeters. Non-self-retweeters should not ‘pass judgment on’ (Rom. 14:3) self-retweeters. So, Is there a parallel between Corinthian eating and digital self-retweeting? 1 Cor 8: ‘[Retweeting] will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not [retweet], and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge [retweeting], will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to [retweet tweets] offered to [his twitter followers]? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.’ (1 Cor. 8:8-12) Sounds silly. And it’s not a one-to-one parallel; tweets are universally visible: unlike eating, you don’t tweet to a group of people all of whom you see and who all see you. But still worth pondering, I think.

    3. As you say, this is a gray area, not black or white. It’s an issue that requires wisdom, not reductionistic rules, certainly not reductionistic rules imposed on others. One result of the fall I think is that we are way too quick to view that which is morally neutral as morally charged (akin to thinking, say, extroversion or introversion are more or less sinful). While we want to avoid the mistake of not calling a sin that which is a sin, we also want to avoid the opposite error of calling something sinful that is not chart-able on a sin scale.

    4. Given the grayness of this, why not err in the direction of blessed obscurity, to which the Lord delights to draw near?

    5. I suspect we young evangelical bloggers have a less-than-acute awareness of how profoundly the attention-clamoring world of advertisement in which we are immersed informs our instincts as to what is honorable online protocol for followers of the One who said in about 30 different ways that self-humbling is the path to self-exaltation.

    6. Proverbs 27:2, ‘Let another praise you, and not your own mouth,’ should be complemented with ‘But whatever anyone else dares to boast of–I am speaking as a fool–I also dare to boast of that’ (2 Cor 11:21). When the situation demanded it for the sake of the gospel and truth, Paul self-vindicated–self-promoted–in a sense, self-retweeted. That said, which of these two equally true texts do you think is a more pungent word-in-season for the evangelical blogdom and twitterdom?

    7. Let’s do all we can to be an HT more than an RT online evangelical community. Thanks for your good example in this.

    8. Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.

    9. Your comments box is annoying. Can only see three lines of text at a time.

    10. Appreciate you more than you know amigo.