I see from my profile that I have been a member of Twitter since 2014. That’s eight years of tweeting. I pulled back from Facebook two years ago and now I am at the point of pulling back from Twitter.
Here’s why: First of all, I value twitter because it is a brilliant idea. I like the challenge of communicating quickly and concisely. I like the interaction and the humorous light hearted banter. The word “twit” means idiot or “shallow jerk” in English slang. To “twit” someone is also to tease or to lightly mock them. I’ve valued this side of twitter, and the possibility of connecting with thousands of people–to share my thoughts, to share the faith and to encourage, enlighten and sometimes to annoy. That, it seems to me is the genius of Twitter in a nutshell.
However, over the years a toxic element has entered in. As contemporary comedians have found, it is increasingly difficult to make jokes without someone or other getting themselves all worked up because you’ve offended them. Over the years some of my jokes have received this treatment and any attempt to explain the joke to those who are offended is a wasted effort. This reveals the downside of Twitter–that a very concise and pithy statement is all the more easily misunderstood. It is all too easy for folks to read it through their own lens and from within their own context, and if they are biased, it is understandable that they will not give the benefit of the doubt, but will jump to the wrong conclusions. That’s ok. I understand that. It’s human nature.
I think there are very few people who use Twitter who actually set out to offend, but offense is taken despite their good intentions. It therefore gets very complicated and it becomes a minefield through which one has to tiptoe. If, like me, you are a Catholic priest, then everyone also expects you to be Jesus, Mary and Joseph 24/7. It’s a tough one. It’s sad when one does not wish to offend, but it happens anyway, and it is all to easy to tweet out an opinion without considering how everyone out there in the twitterverse might possibly take it. This has certainly happened to me from time to time and I apologize for any offense I may have caused. I don’t step on peoples’ toes on purpose.
Therefore, I am taking the advice of our holy Father St Benedict who counsels silence. I’m stepping away from Twitter–I’ll still check in to read other folks tweets and perhaps will retweet or comment from time to time, but mostly my presence will be simply to post links to my blog posts. Those who wish to follow my writings are always welcome here on the blog.
The comment box on my blog, if you are interested, is only open to subscribers. This is because I don’t have the time to monitor a busy combox and also because, when I had an open combox I not only got haters posting their hate, but others who, realizing I had a significant audience, were using my combox as their soapbox. Having the combox open to subscribers still allows for discussion and interaction among readers, and if people want to be in touch with me, it is possible through Twitter DM and email.
In addition to stepping back from active tweeting, I’m planning to boost my regular, free, email newsletter. Folks can sign up for that on the blog and through the newsletter I’ll continue to link folks to my content–which will be posted here on the blog and on the other websites for which I write.
My other problem with Twitter is that I was simply wasting too much time on it. I’m sure I am not the only one with that problem. Stepping away, I hope, will give me more time for the blog and more time for my various writing projects. I’m working now on my second novel and have another non-fiction book in the slow cooker between my ears.
If you enjoy my work, I hope you’ll bookmark the blog or sign up for the free newsletter and continue to be an active reader.
It’s interesting you’ve mentioned St. Benedict’s counsel on being silent. I am presently reading Card. Sarah’s book The Power of Silence. I rarely underline in books (preferring to read it again without only seeing what I saw the first time), but I have underlined much in this one. Your decision certainly resonates with what he writes.