That is the question, apparently.
I’ve resisted Twitter for a long time, but I did register an account a few months ago. I finally decided to start using it the other day and I’ve been feeling my way forward with it.
It may sound silly to act so skeptical about a wildly popular form of social media. But my skepticism is about the nature of social in these online forms of connection. For instance, I’m currently engaged in ministry at the Duke Youth Academy for Christian Formation, where 70 high school students and adult staff live together, eat together, worship together, and work together. It is only for two weeks, but I can assure you that no one here can escape the reality of life-in-community during the time they’re here. Real community is something that happens ‘in the flesh,’ and it involves complicated relationships that must be navigated with care, sensitivity, and ultimately love.
Twitter doesn’t require any of this. Nor does Facebook. Nor does this website, for that matter. They’re all forms of so-called “social media,” but the form of sociality they allow is virtual. It is not embodied, and because of that it can never arise to anything other than the level of the thinly social from my point of view.
All that said, I’m giving it a shot (just as I gave blogging a shot, and Facebook a shot, etc.). It has its place, and it can be useful so long as we don’t kid ourselves into thinking that it can take the place of real, authentic forms of community.
So follow me on Twitter, for goodness’ sake! (My handle is @andrew72450). And if you want to read a good analysis of social media in Christian ministry, check out Shane Raynor’s chapter, “Internet Ministry: Delivering the Message in Cyberspace,” in my book Generation Rising: A Future with Hope for the United Methodist Church.