My 30,000th Tweet
Today, I tweeted for the 30,000th time.
30,000 x 140 characters = 4,200,000
That’s 4.2 MILLION characters typed and broadcasted to whomever risky enough to follow and listen.
Over 4 million clicks on a keyboard or iPhone touch screen. And just on Twitter alone.
Yeah. I honestly don’t know whether to be proud of that or embarrassed. Maybe a little of both!
That last line right there was going to be what I tweeted for the monumental occasion, but instead, it turned into this blog post. Because I never EVER tend to get the least bit reflective or melo-dramatic in moments like these. ;)
But as I reflect on all the madness which started April 4th, 2008, I am filled with mixed emotions. And ultimately, I’ve decided that it’s time to take a step back from Twitter.
(at this point, you may have more important things to do. I know I do. So the bottom-line is this: I’m taking a break from Twitter for an indefinite amount of time. If you are curious as to why and if I’m completely abandoning the social network altogether, then you can keep reading this suspenseful novel of a blog post.)
Why I Love Twitter
There is a lot I have to be thankful for when it comes to Twitter and social media. It’s allowed me to meet and stay in touch with so many like-minded artists who share many of the same passions and convictions…as it relates to worship, church, visual media & projection technology. It’s also allowed me to interact with people who do not share the same view as me, which is always a good opportunity for growth and realizing that I may not be asking all the right questions.
Twitter has also been a good way to pass the time in boring situations, such as standing in long lines when traveling. Traveling can be an adventurous but lonely business. There’s a lot of hurry-up-and-waiting: transit shuttles between gates, bus rides, trains, taxis, and waiting an hour for the plane to get off the tarmac. Twitter has become a great way to pass the time.
I could go on about all of Twitter’s wonderful benefits, but lately, I’ve been more tired and weary of it. And it feels like the bad is starting to outweigh the good… so I’ve come to a conclusion…really more of a conviction…that I need to step away for a season.
I hadn’t planned this until earlier this week. I didn’t wait until the magic 30,000 number to step away, as if this was some well-scripted, dramatic scene in a movie. I have taken regular breaks from social media, but I’ve felt a growing discomfort with it all…especially Twitter…and I can’t quite put my finger on it.
And then last Friday happened.
The Tragedy of Newtown & the Tragedy of Twitter
What I thought would be a fun day of obnoxious and unapologetic tweeting about #TheHobbit turned into one of the darkest days of our lifetime. And though I learned of all the news via Twitter, it was cluttered up by more arrogant and prideful noise than I could bear.
You would think that Twitter could be transformed into a digital candlelight vigil of sorts…an online sacred space to lament and come together in community to mourn the deaths of innocent children and teachers. Instead, it became a battlefield of righteous, political, religious and philosophical debate. Tragedy and crisis normally brings on a sense of humility and unity…but instead, Friday’s tragedy was quickly followed by all sorts of gross divisive statements.
Don’t hear me say that the conversations and debates taking place aren’t important. THEY ARE. They are incredibly important; I definitely have some thoughts about gun control, mental illness, and the rest. But what I saw take place on Twitter last Friday sickened me. And it made me want to avoid my feed all weekend long.
Scott McClellan did a great job of describing the type of tweeting that took place on Friday: Descriptive vs Prescriptive tweeting.
Last week it was Newtown. This week, it’s Instagram. A few weeks ago, the election. A few months ago, Chick-fil-A. Who knows what it will be tomorrow. And everyone’s opinions and arguments are just plain exhausting me.
I’m not saying that I am above this; I’m not. I have failed multiple times in communicating in generous, loving ways. And I have surely added my fair share to the noise. But the overall divisive, opinionated noise has grown too loud.
So in light of what I believe to be an unhealthy and annoying culture of prescriptive tweeting, I am stepping away. I don’t need to subject myself to the trails of tweets that I know will set my mind into a sinful path of judgmental thinking.
As I pray “Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil…” I am starting to hear a whisper. A whisper that is nudging me to take a step back.
Guarding the Inner Fire
Another big reason I need to step away for a season is the need to focus my thoughts and writings towards a large and daunting project… my book: “Illuminate: A Tale of Visual Worship”
I have come a long way with the book, but I still have a ways to go. And to finish the task, some sacrifices will need to be made. And two sacrifices/disciplines I need more in my life is SPACE & SILENCE.
I once heard a quote by Henri Nouwen on silence:
“Silence – protects the inner fire. Silence guards the inner heat of religious emotions. This inner heat is the life of the Holy Spirit within us. Thus, silence is the discipline by which the inner fire of God is tended and kept alive.” - Henri Nouwen
I have found that consistent tweeting & feed reading is not helping me tend to the inner fire that God has placed inside of me. Not only do I desperately need that inner fire for myself personally, but it is also that fire that fuels such passionate thinking and writing for my book. And if I am to leave anything behind … a legacy of sorts… then I’d rather it be something more long-term and effective like a book instead of thousands of disconnected and decontextualized tweets.
Focusing on the “little ‘c’ church”
As I sat with my church last Sunday, I was overcome with love for them…more so than I’ve ever felt before. As I walked around our space while we were singing, praying and receiving Communion, I thought to myself “These really are my people! This is FAMILY!” And all I could think is how I long to spend more time with them. I love to travel, but I am homesick for Journey more often than not.
Travel can take place in many forms. Traveling is the action of moving your presence from one place to another. There’s the travel of the body… when you physically take your presence from here to there.
But then there is also the travel of the mind. You experience this when you cease to “be present” over a conversation with a friend and your mind travels elsewhere, usually on the bullet train of Twitter, if you’re iPhone is handy. I have definitely struggled with this and have worked to get better at it.
But in a broader sense, when I am home in Nashville, I want to be fully present. I want my mind and heart to be more occupied with my own church family…not “my tribe.” Sure, a lot of “my people” are on Twitter…and I certainly interact with them there. And they all don’t live in Nashville, either.
I really don’t know how else to explain it, other than I feel the desire to spend more time thinking about and hanging with the people God has placed in my real, offline life. And less time with the avatars of people whom I barely know and am not in invested relationships with.
I still want to serve the “Big ‘C’ Church.” But for me and for now, the best way to do that is not via Twitter. Twitter is good, but what I have in mind for the next season is better.
So What Now?
I’m not leaving forever…nor am I 100% quitting Twitter. I still have a business to run, and I realize that not everyone who tweets me will read this post. And I want to be respectful, courteous, & helpful to those who have questions about (fill in the blank). I will still check in from time to time, just not very often. I’m thinking once a week…maybe. We’ll see.
I’m not sure when I’ll get back into a regular routine, if ever. I definitely have a few exciting projects in the works, including my book and a brand new site. I’m sure I’ll tweet a LOT when those are ready to release. So enjoy the silence while you can. haha!
And hopefully having this extra space in my life will allow me to create that art in the manner in which it deserves.
Signing off for now…
~ the artist formerly known as @worshipVJ