Yesterday, the internet was caught up in rumours and gossip suggesting that Twitter, one of the main social media platforms people communicate on could be about to completely collapse. Elon Musk appears to have picked up the Liz Truss playbook at the same time as taking over Twitter leading to complete chaos with many key employees either being sacked or resigning and key investors withdrawing their finance.
The other day, employees were told that they would not be able to go into the offices until early next week. I’m no sure if this is just a bit of drama about locking up over the weekend or again reflects something more serious, perhaps a fear of industrial espionage before people attempt to set up rival platforms. It was this last announcement that caused panic that everything was about to unravel leading to #RIPTwitter trending.
Now, if Twitter were to die tonight (having survived Friday), I think we would all cope. There are plenty of other social media platforms around to communicate on. Those of us who have built up followings on twitter in order to promote things like our blogs and websites might have to start rebuilding from scratch but it would be doable. It’s hardly the end of the world.
Yet, all of those people talking about their last tweets, and writing up premature eulogies to the site and friends they had met there got me thinking. We sometimes ask the question in evangelism: “If you were to die tonight, would you get into heaven?” It’s a good diagnostic question.
So, what if twitter were to die? Of course, Twitter is not itself a person so not going to heaven in that sense. However, we do sometimes talk about the renewing of creation meaning that the good and worthwhile things of here might be present there. Further, if we are known by our fruits, then our tweets, as well as our Facebook posts, our YouTube videos, Instagram pictures and Tiktok dances are fruit that either point to God’s redemptive work in our lives or to human rebellion.
Or to put it another, way. If your tweets were being used as proof that you were a believer in a hostile country, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Now, we are not talking about perfection here. However, I have long been concerned at the way in which people have argued that they can speak how they like and treat others as they please online because social media isn’t real life. That is simply not true. It is no less real life than writing a letter. The words you say to others on Facebook and Twitter are real words.
And whilst we often hear that people are not like they are on Twitter in real life, I suspect that most of us are very much like we are on social media when face to face. Or at least, we are like we would be if we thought we could get away with it. And usually, those quick to jump to the defence of people as being pleasant and lovely in real life are also their friends online. It’s rare for someone to say that “oh yes Jim is an unpleasant thug and bully who is rude and mean to me on twitter but we love to get together for coffee and a catch up.” Now, that might be challenging. Some of you may find me annoying and irritating online (though I’m not sure why you’ve read this far into my blog yet). Truth be told, you would probably find me irritating and annoying in person too. In my defence, we cannot expect to get on with everyone.
However, this doesn’t get us entirely off the hook, because we should want to be working on our sanctification and challenging each other. Further, there is a difference between just causing offence and irritation, rudeness and the type of bullying and abuse that we sadly see too often on social media.
Furthermore, there is the vital question about whether or not our words online act as a positive or negative witness. Does what I say glorify Christ? This isn’t just about the negative things I might say. It’s also about whether I am using my time online profitably and being a positive ambassador for the Gospel.
So, whether or not Twitter dies tonight, and whether or not you are on that specific platform, perhaps its prematurely rumoured decline gives us all a good opportunity to reflect and review how we use social media.