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Twitter is big. Really big. To date there are over 175 million registered users. As I write this, Lady Gaga has more Twitter followers than anyone, even Barack Obama. This popular microblog is used by everyone from celebrities (Oprah, Ellen DeGeneres) to recording artists (Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift) to news corporations (CNN, New York Times).
Christians are no exception to the twitter-rage. It is used by pastoral giants like Rick Warren, prolific authors like Donald Miller, and guilty pleasures like Petra.
But how should Christians react to Twitter? Is it nothing more than a mindless annoyance? Narcissistic? Self-indulgent? Pointless personal trivia?
Let’s be clear: Twitter as a digital network is none of these things—it is only a technological tool. On the other hand, Twitter as a social phenomenon and a personal outlet has all the trappings of a digital skinner box. For some, there is the urge to over-follow: to track the minute-to-minute thoughts of hundreds of cherished friends and celebrity favorites. For others, there is the urge to over-tweet: shouting painfully meaningless and incriminating phrases into the dispassionate darkness of cyberspace.
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Status update: It is not your Facebook page; it’s Facebook’s. You will be a lot happier if you can remember this.Once upon a time Facebook did not exist. There were forerunners but it was only with Facebook that everyone suddenly took full advantage of the chance to re-engage with people we’d spent the past decade forgetting; school friends with whom we never had that much in common; that couple we met on holiday but probably wouldn’t like if we invited them to dinner.
This fabulous new opportunity to stay in touch with people we didn’t care about very much came free of charge. Yes, free; this is important. Facebook took its payment in kind by using the data we gave it to make money selling adverts. As it tightened its grip on our lives, Facebook started changing its conditions to maximise its revenue. Each time, we complained because those Facebook weasels, were messing around with “our” site – for which we didn’t pay – in order to make money. The rotters; perhaps we should have sided with the Winklevosses, after all.
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