Pondering in Our Hearts or Tweeting to the World?

Like any good company, Twitter is looking for ways to increase their business. Not being a marketer or business guru I don’t know all the ways this is accomplished, but I do know that they look at usage; they want me to use, they want you to use.

English: A Twitter tweet

They look at what tweets are most popular, why they are popular, and how they can increase tweets, retweets, and new love affairs with twitter.

The NY Times published an article a few months ago called “Christian Leaders are Powerhouses on Twitter”. The article said that it was in looking at popularity of tweets that a twitter employee found out about the “faith world”, in particular the “evangelical world”.

As they studied this group, they noted that followers retweet the twitter posts of religious leaders more than twice as much as popular “pop culture” leaders, the likes of Katy Perry and Justin Bieber. While Perry and Bieber undoubtedly have more followers, their tweets get shared less.

This was a world they had largely ignored, mainly because they didn’t realize that it existed as a business prospect. Why the popularity of these tweets? What content did these leaders have that could compete with Katy Perry’s 26 million followers and tweets like “KATYCATS! It’s time for YOU GUYS to take home a trophy! Vote for Biggest Fans (and Best Female & Best Pop) at #MTVEMA.” of “There’s no place like Tokyo, there’s no place like Tokyo, There’s no place like Tokyo.”

As a business venture, this group matters. How do they increase both the understanding and use of twitter among religious leaders and their followers? How do they teach someone that it’s a “tweet, not a twit” and more?

Social media and religion are an interesting mix. One person argues that “The Bible is made for twitter” (most verses have 100 characters or less) so tweeting a verse from Proverbs on a Monday morning could be a perfect way to influence someone’s day. Others said this is a perfect way to engage, connect, challenge and encourage.

And then there is the inevitable tweeting of thoughts and opinion, no matter how intimate, twitter is the perfect way to spread to the world what we are thinking and feeling.

But it brings up some questions….

When do we, when do I, need to keep my thoughts to myself, to not spread them to the world but instead to ponder them quietly with God, sometimes in awe, sometimes in amazement, other times in searching or struggle? What should be seen by the world, and what is too precious, too personal, too “pearl-like” to cast before the world.

I’m not sure of the answer to this, but I know that we are not designed to be emotionally naked with everyone. In sharing my information with the world, I am entrusting it to a fickle and capricious audience.

And I have to wonder — would Mary, the mother of Jesus, have been tempted to tweet to the world “Wow Just had an amazing revelation that I’m giving birth to the Messiah #amazing #unbelievable”. She would have been 45 characters shy of her limit. Somehow I think she would have kept quiet on the social media front and continued the pondering in the heart.

What do you think? Ponder in our hearts or tweet to the world — what’s the balance? 

Hanging Ourselves on Soundbites

We are a society of soundbites. Having little time for the real story we are delighted when we come upon that pithy quote or 140 character twitter feed that keeps us informed.

Or does it?

I recently commented on an article that a friend had posted on a social media site. She responded graciously but pointedly “Marilyn, did you read the article?” Although she could not see me, I had the humility to blush from my toes to my eyebrows. I hadn’t read it. I had skimmed and picked out the one sentence that I disagreed with, the one thing I could become righteous about.

It was embarrassing and it should have been. I hung myself on a soundbite.

The reasons why are many. We’re busy, we’re preoccupied, we multi-task….we also want to sound informed and smart. We want to get on the proverbial band wagon, showing that we are righteously indignant by responding with piercing words through comments.

And that’s fine – except when we haven’t read the full article, we don’t know the full story. Or if we’ve just believed someone who is well-known with a powerful voice on the internet instead of critically thinking through the issue and seeking information that will inform. And then the righteous response we are so proud of is nothing but clamor in an already too loud world.

How do you frame your comments on issues? Do you read the entire story or do you respond to the soundbite? These aren’t rhetorical questions. I’m serious. How do we in a world so divided learn to respond without getting caught up in misplaced indignation and quick, poorly formed log-in-the-eye responses?

Would love to hear what you choose to respond to and how you respond in the comment section.