// twitter and the danger of simultaneous world domination

twitter-bird-blackWhilst i think Al Gordon makes some good observations on the way in which Twitter is changing church culture, i think he’s wrong to limit it to the church itself (admittedly, though, he is a worship leader so he’s writing from his own particular standpoint). Arguably it’s something much more exciting that that, as exciting though Al’s model for church is – it’s a suggestion that Christianity is moving outwards, moving out of its subculture and into… well, a much wider subculture, the ‘blogosphere’, admittedly, but that in itself is a start…

The beauty of Christians existing within blogging culture is the sheer variety that it allows; nothing is necessarily limited to a particular category, and it’s easy enough to engage with things from a ‘Christian perspective’ without being limited to being a solely ‘Christian’ blog. How do you like that? It’s like Christian rehabilitation; we’re being treated like actual human beings again. That’s something worth holding on to, incidentally – for a short while, the world might actually see Christians as sane, reasonable individuals, with a reason for their faith and the perspectives they hold, rather than just people who listen to, and act upon, voices from ‘the invisible man in the sky’.

With that in mind, then, surely it makes a lot of sense to avoid being pigeonholed. To not just let our blogs, our outputs, be ‘Christian blogs’, but rather ‘blogs by Christians’. A place where you can find out, for example, that i don’t just listen to Tim Hughes on repeat all day, but have in fact in the past week been listening to Paramore and James Taylor on Spotify as, yes, i apparently am a fifteen-year old girl.

It’s at this point that i realise that i haven’t specified that i am not actually a fifteen-year old girl. I am not. I am a twenty-one year old man, studying an English degree here in Oxford.

But i still listen to Paramore.

(I blame Guitar Hero: World Tour for this, by the way, if you’re interested. You’ve been warned.)

Anyway, i digress. But the value of Twitter comes from the same standpoint. Posting at sporadic intervals throughout the day in less than 160 characters gives us a chance to show the world that, hey, we have thoughts, just like everyone else! We also like it, for example, when the sun shines. We also like talking about the latest film, or book, or album, that we saw/read/heard (by the way, if you haven’t done so yet, i still recommend “It’s Blitz!” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs – especially “skeletons”). And we also like  telling the world about our inane thoughts. It proves that we are human beings too, and so as much as an evangelistic tool as a Twitter feed can undoubtedly be, i’d urge you to use caution before posting solely Christian stuff on it – unless you’re a professional Christian author, like Gerard Kelly, of course, but even then, i’m sceptical…

Yes, Gerard Kelly, that’s a message – stop clogging up my Twitter feed or i’ll do to you what Al Gordon did to John Mayer and Stephen Fry,

This is a great tool, and crucially, it’s also fun. It would – will – become a lot less fun if we all instantaneously decide to use it as a sort of worldwide Christian messaging service, and nothing else, so let’s be careful, eh?

Otherwise you, too, might face my blog-based wrath, and this is 2009, and news travels fast…


http://twitter.com/tjcarlisle (my Twitter feed)

http://twitter.com/gordonalexander (Al Gordon’s twitter feed)

    • Simon
    • April 23rd, 2009

    BLDGBLOG has weighed in on the pro-Twitter side, in the ongoing discussion over whether it’s a pointless waste of time or a brilliant demonstration of social power. I still err towards the former….

      • Tom
      • April 23rd, 2009

      That’s a brilliant article with some really shrewd observations (i particularly appreciate the ball-point pen thing), and one of the more reasoned debates about Twitter that i’ve heard. Thanks!

      Do you not think that this whole ‘community of debate’ just proves how out-of-control the blogosphere is getting, though? It’s like the culture of criticism that built up around the Romantic poets, only multiplied exponentially…

      I’m waiting for (a) someone to blame Twitter for driving someone to their death (cf. Keats and Croker) (b) Twitnet, when the critical apparatus turns upon us and ‘does a Terminator’, demolishing reputations in 160 characters or less.

    • Simon
    • April 25th, 2009

    Well, some kid got arrested for what he said on Twitter, but that’s hardly surprising… Blame it for a death in what way, though? The Keats/Croker thing seems pretty over-the-top (thanks, Wikipedia. Thikipedia.), but like any social network Twitter can victimise, bully, harrass as much as it can connect, introduce and support – it’s remarkable that FB, MySpace et al. aren’t being called out on this yet. Not that they should be, obv.

    The community of debate idea is good, though; for example, news as a social influence is much more effective at changing perspectives when it’s discussed and debated, and all arguing can help to purify the MSM sources. It’s intrinsically linked with the whole citizen-journalism thing, too, and that’s a fantastic development at the minute – and long may it continue, since it’s so far avoided the noxious taint of celebrity-obsessed bollocks. It’s vanity publishing for the 21st century, with the lines between professional and amateur ever more blurred.

    Like everything, though, Twitter won’t become unduly powerful for the simple reason that abuse of same is simple to spot. The same reason that Google can’t destroy a career and that the social networks can only influence decisions; rely on them at your cost, because they’re too fickle to base your knowledge on. I hope employers twig that sooner rather than later, though.

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