I Think Before I Tweet … Way Too Much

Like most social network users, I have occasionally given in to the temptation to post something that I later ended up regretting. The rush of being the first, of saying something funny or edgy, got the better of me. Within minutes I went back and deleted the tweet or Facebook update hoping and praying no one had seen it.

Over time, I’ve gotten better about trying to think through whether I really need to tweet something and if I’ll later regret it. If it passes the “regret later” test, then I’m free to tweet.

I’m so going to tweet that…

But I’ve noticed an interesting side-effect of this “think before you tweet” rule. As I go about the day, I find myself thinking of things about which I could tweet. When I see a strange person in line at a store, I think about something clever I could say. When a company offers me poor service, I think about how I could slam them and get something back from it. When I read about major world events, I think up little jokes to make light of them.

In other words, I’ve started to see the world through Twitter.

When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail

When I was a youth pastor, I was always on the lookout for good illustrations. If something funny, sad, or interesting happened I made a note to use it in my next sermon for the kids.

Eventually, I noticed that “Illustrations” had become the lens through which I looked at everything and I decided I needed to turn it off sometimes, so I could just enjoy the moment. Now, I find myself needing to do the same with Twitter at times.

All of this illustrates that the tools we use tend to color the world we see, and sometimes we need to take a step back from the tool to see things as they are. In the mean time, come follow me on twitter: @johndyer

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John Dyer

In my day job, I work at Dallas Theological Seminary, and at night I write Bible software for countries whose leaders could be called "overlords." This one time, I wrote a book about technology and Christian faith. You can find out more about what I'm up to at http://j.hn/.

7 thoughts on “I Think Before I Tweet … Way Too Much”

  1. I’ve sometimes enforced twitter fasts when I realize I start thinking in 140 characters. It makes for some very shallow thinking and proves that my head is not where I am physically, but rather with those who follow me on Twitter. Twitter fasts have served me well. I’ve used this personal example as a way to challenge teens to consider how technology shapes them.

    1. I have recently started using TweetDeck. The switch to tweet deck has allowed me to create a tweet and send it out later. That gives me a lag time to think over and consider the power of my words.
      I have found this pondering on my tweets to have a reverse impact of what Josiah is saying. As the tweet runs through my mind in the time between when I create and when it is posted it often improves. It becomes deeper, more full and hopefully more holy and Christ like. Thus, I find TweetDeck actually makes the 140 characters deep, real deep and not shallow at all.

  2. Very good advice. I was thinking of some witty comeback like “I tweet therefore I am” or “What would Jesus tweet?” but I thought about it a bit and decided against it.

    I actually don’t use Twitter all that much, so that isn’t one of my particular lenses through which I view the world. But I do make anagrams as a pastime and hang on on the Anagrammy Awards forum online (anagrammy.com). It does often shape the way I view the world. When I see a ridiculous or outrageous or important headline, my first instinct is to anagram it and post the result. It does tend to trivialize important news, raise trivial news to people’s attention, and cause me to be on the lookout for good names, phrases, and sentences to anagram, rather than making deeper observations about what it going on in the world. I do fast from anagrammy.com (and news and other “non-essential” Internet use) during Lent, and it’s a good time to reset my focus.

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