What I Learned About Twitter – A Year in Review.
Sometimes in life I can become a little cynical. For whatever reason, posts written to admonish my use of social media can make me cynical. For instance, the irony of an author using social media to tell me to stop using social media. I understand where you’re coming from, but at the same time I always think, “Hey I’m a big boy. I will Twitter and Instagram all I want, thank you very much!” But here I am. Posting an article about the use of social media.
Perhaps the whole thing can simply be summed up by reminding us all that humility is the difference maker. Not only is humility a characteristic of a good person, it is central to what God expects of us as we follow Jesus. I, for one, always need a fresh commitment to humility. My hope is by sharing what God has taught me this year, you too will be motivated to be a humble, social media users.
Don’t Vent About Sports (fanhood in moderation).
This was without a doubt the most difficult “pill of humility” I had to swallow. Social media (especially Twitter) can be an awesome platform for bringing people together during a national or global event. Yet this same platform can also be a hotbed for trash talk, arguments, and colorful language that can damage your Christian character. There is something about sports and competition that can bring out the worst in a person. Our screens can create a kind of “anonymous courage” which tempts us to write things we would never say in person. Multiple times throughout the year I would wake up the next day with a check in my spirit, having regret about a tweet I posted which included a combative attitude towards someone, a sour spirit after the outcome of a game, or a bad call by an official. Jesus doesn’t bless and isn’t impressed with your subtweets! What I have learned this year is it is far better to “make the extra pass” before sending a fan-tweet. Leave it as a draft for a minute. Come back and read it later. If you still feel passionate about it and you still feel it is a respectable tweet, go for it. I can guarantee you will never regret checking-up before sending.
Also, 80% of your followers do not care to have their timeline flooded with every little detail about your specific team. It is great you love your team – but let us enjoy your passion without being overwhelmed by it.
It Does Matter What You Post (nothing is private)
I’m old enough to remember passing notes in school. Yep, that’s how we did it. Want to ask a girl out or confess your undying, eternal love? Just write it on a piece of notebook paper, fold it up a thousand times, and drop it through the vents on her locker door. It was a simpler time… But I’ll never forget the advice my mom gave me, “Don’t ever write anything you would not want the principal to read over the intercom to the whole school.” That same advice applies to Twitter. You may think what you tweet doesn’t really matter, especially if you convince yourself, “I don’t really have the many followers.” But it does matter. What you say (and in this case tweet) communicates to the world what you believe about Jesus. Even if the tweet isn’t directly about Jesus. Your attitude, your perspective, the words your chose – they all pull back the curtain to your heart. Jesus teaches this truth in Matthew 15:18, “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.” Maybe in our modern vernacular: what comes from someone’s thumbs proceeds from the heart.
Even 280 characters is not enough to completely explain the intricacies of your thoughts – especially your attempts at being funny. Tweets are very easily misunderstood. Filter your own tweets well. Be intentional with the words you use and never assume anything.
Lastly, I recommend a “Twitter buddy” – that guy or gal you text your thoughts to privately instead of tweeting publicly. We knows, by texting them instead, not only do you prevent yourself for saying something foolish or misunderstood – you could actually get sound advice or an encouraging response that you wouldn’t otherwise get from the world wide web.
Choose This Day Whom You Will Platform (@Jesus).
Twitter is not off limits to The Great Commission or The Great Commandment. Social media is not a place where you flip a switch and have “me time.” Paul teaches us in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This includes tweeting! Through modern technology, God has blessed us with the opportunity to be the salt and light for lost and dying peoples, literally, around the globe. Twitter is a fun and awesome place to connect with others. People will literally choose to read what you tweet and retweet. How are you choosing to use this awesome opportunity? Your name may be on the account, but are you choosing to make Jesus famous? Clearly, I am not implying that we all become hardcore social media missionaries, but I am saying that we can use the medium to proclaim hope and joy. We can tweet the good news of Jesus. We can be wellsprings of encouragement to friends and even strangers. Rather than use the platform for self-glorification, arguing political opinions, or mindlessly “liking” cat videos, let’s be a generation of people who proactively engage social media for the gospel.
This was another tough dose of humility for me because I am a huge fan of social media and am tempted to overshare. There is a fine line between using the platform of Twitter and Instagram to celebrate life and blessings and it is another thing all together to make it a world in which you are king. According to FeedingAmerica.org over 41 million Americans struggle with hunger, including 13 million children – the global hunger statistics are even more staggering. A reality like this makes me think twice about posting that Nashville filter of an 8oz filet…
Earlier in the year I was looking into the ministry of an associate pastor here in the States. I was excited to connect with him for the purpose of gleaning great ministry wisdom. It took scrolling back nearly eight months(!) for me to find a tweet that was spiritually edifying. I didn’t have time to attempt to find one that actually included the name of Jesus in it! Now, I in no way mean to dog-on this fellow pastor, but I will say it was a strong lesson for me to learn. Don’t be that guy!
**Side note: try to prevent yourself from being a Twitter Crusader. Yes, by all means, use the media platform for all these things discussed above, but remember to maintain a Christ-like spirit. I think of Zacchaeus – Jesus established relationship (come down from that tree) with the man, engaged him in meaningful conversation (I’m coming to your house), and in that process identified and rebuked sin. It will be rare for you to make a meaningful difference in a person’s life (especially a non-Christian) if your timeline is like a prudence cannon. Try not to be @JudgyMcJudgerson all the time.
It Is Addicting
This isn’t a cliché or an overreaction, this is 100% true. I honestly did not believe this until my own experience. An addiction to social media is something with which I confess to struggle. There is no sense in re-inventing the wheel here. Instead I’ll share what has greatly influenced me. Please take a moment to read some great resources from professor and friend, Dr. David Murray on the subject: Digital Heroin. Also, Andy Crouch wrote a new book in 2017 called, The Tech-Wise Family which I highly recommend. You can buy it on Amazon here: buy now.
It Is a Slippery Slope (let’s not help the Devil)
This is a very real and honest lesson. As mentioned earlier, there is something about the screen that gives you a false sense of anonymity. But the truth is, even if who you follow and what you read were private, nothing is private to God. Luke 8:17, “For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.” I’m not just writing about porn, here. I’m encouraging you to consider the first steps of a slippery slope. I began to notice this most in the sports world. There are accounts and people who are fantastic sources for the latest and greatest sports information. But it is also true there is a strong link between sports and sexual immorality. Not for a moment am I declaring all beat writers are sexual deviants, I’m simply saying my experience has shown it is easy to be tempted to start with articles on sports and be distracted by the content posted by people with a different moral standard.
If you know a sports writer or sports account has a history of posting inappropriate content in addition to sports content, have the courage to unfollow. Find your information somewhere else. Usually individuals are the best follow for sports information, but if you should need, limit your follows to organizations (i.e. ESPN, Yahoo, Fox, etc.) instead. Corporate accounts are less likely to interject their favorite pictures of players’ wives and girlfriends or other extracurricular content like that.
Sports might be the most obvious, but it is not an isolated concept. Many married men and women have fantastic social life safeguards for their marriage. But in the world of social media, they are guilty of following anyone, no matter who they are. The excuse, “it is just Twitter” is a lie from Satan. If you are a married man, would you have a daily friendship with a “single blonde bombshell”? I hope not. Then why are you following her on Twitter?! Because you like a movie she was in or she writes “good” articles on your favorite sports team? Married or single, male or female, don’t lie to yourself and say “it’s only Twitter.” Little by little, Satan will do anything he can to chip away at your marriage and your relationship with God. Do the difficult thing and purge your “Following” list; commit to following only those who help make you holy, not happy.
As I led with, this list is not meant to be pious. I am not holier than thou. This list actually comes directly from lessons learned from and truth taught to me by the Holy Spirit. My hope is that it will bless and encourage you to think, pray, and take action where the Holy Spirit leads.