This is personal. I’m not criticizing anyone else. For some, Twitter might even be a necessity. But I’m out. Reluctantly, because it is possible to do some good on Twitter. But still, I’m out.
Why? I’ll make it brief.
My outlook on Twitter is influenced by these Scriptures:
“Give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Romans 12:17). Publicly obvious honor requires careful thought.
“Let your reasonableness be known to everyone” (Philippians 4:5). Christians should stand out for being reasonable people in this world of screaming rage.
“The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). Our moral fervor feels oh-so-good, but it is immoral and destroys righteousness.
“Let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26). “All things” includes every tweet. Every single one.
“A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11). A thought that often occurs to me: “Ray, shut up.”
“As you enter the house, greet it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you” (Matthew 10:12-13). Some people will never be satisfied, because they are unsatisfiable. When I find that to be so, the Lord counsels me to stop trying and, with sorrow, to turn away, allowing my peace to return to me.
Within the framework of these and other Scriptures, three considerations weigh on me:
One, the good that can be accomplished on Twitter can also be accomplished, and far more fruitfully, in real life.
Scrolling Twitter is an intense experience. But its intensity can fool us. It feels more real than it is. And the emotional demand claims too much. Twitter betrays the involvement it lures us into. We end up diminished, even injured, over and over again. For years, my own cost/benefit calculation kept tipping in favor of the benefits. I no longer see it that way.
Two, I am grieved by the behavior of Christians on Twitter. There are so many I admire! But Twitter can arouse the mean streak inside every one of us. And some of us honestly do not realize the harm we do. The reckless accusations, the eager gotchas, the angry finger-pointing, the trigger-happy reactions, the flippant slanders – I was rarely the target of such ugliness. But just observing it, my own soul began to suffer. I felt dirtied.
As I love to say, “Gospel doctrine creates gospel culture.” We all fall short of embodying the beauty of the gospel. I sure do. But when we cross the line into displaying the opposite of Jesus, repeatedly and publicly, I object. I object with every fiber of my being. I refuse to be involved.
Three, Twitter consumes time, and I have no time to waste. For a man in his 70s, I am surprisingly healthy. But sooner or later, something bad will come find me and take me out. Fine. Jesus is preparing an eternal place for me. But if I die, say, on my eightieth birthday – it’s hypothetical, but possible – then, as of today, I have only 2,677 days left in this world. And on my dying day, will I regret not spending time on Twitter? The answer is obvious.
I will miss interacting with my Twitter friends. You know who you are, and you’re magnificent. But friendship is at its best face-to-face. Wherever you are, God has given you true friends. As Shakespeare wisely urged us, “Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel!”
So why not call a friend right now and tell them how much they mean to you?
“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all” (2 Thessalonians 3:16).
P.S. I have downloaded a complete history of my Twitter activity. Everything is recorded.