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Is Twitter narcissitic? A response...

Recently, Justin Taylor posted these excerpts from a blog about the inherent narcissism of Twitter. I did not feel that this article really gave a gospel-centered approach to the phenomenon that is Twitter (and other forms of social media), so here is my best attempt at a gospel-centered response:

I find it ironic that he blogged about his Twitter angst.  You know it wasn’t long ago that blogging was considered the “telegraph of Narcissus,” etc, etc.  Blogging also wraps itself and its users in an infantile language… bloggers blogging on blogs. In fact, any communication medium worth being called a communication medium creates its own language – that’s the whole point of having a communication medium – newspapers, television, preaching, cell phones, email, papyrus scrolls – all inherently create and profligate a new language. Not surprising is the fact that he is, by his very admission, using the wood from his own rickety bridge that he’s standing on…to build a fire.  (But that is what post-moderns are good at - castigating and eviscerating the very language their rants are written with…)

And I disagree that the community is merely symbolic. For him it may be, but for me, at least, it is not.  Case in point… I run into a guy at one of our gatherings… he’s a group leader… we’ve never met before in person before that day, but we’d exchanged “tweets” and I’d been following his Twitter stream. Interesting thing happened… I asked him about his family (the family he “tweeted” about) and his family outing the week before (that he had “tweeted” about)… In a matter of a few moments we were able to go from “small talk” to “big talk” because of a history of relationship (however thin and surfacy – but, then again, isn’t that what all “small talk” really is…).  (A wise mentor told me a long time ago that you have to go from “small talk” to “big talk”…)

I can’t tell you how many times that scenario has happened in ministry with me… these are real people that I’m able to connect with and love and pray for and listen to and keep up with because of, yes, Twitter.  My friend had to take his newborn to the doctor… how did I find out and why did I pray? You got it – Twitter.  And not to mention the countless births, hospital visits, chemistry tests, birthday parties, etc., etc. 

I would not say that the “great paradox of ‘social networking’ is that it uses narcissism as the glue for "community."  I would say that the great paradox of human communication and existence is that it uses narcissism as the glue for community… The problem is not Twitter, the problem is the human heart.  The problem is not money. The problem is the human heart.  The problem is not sex. The problem is the human heart. 

So I won’t spend any more time or energy exegeting Nicholas Carr’s myopic view of Web 2.0… Is it narcissistic? Yes… But isn’t all communication inherently narcissistic, unless redeemed by the gospel?  Aren’t there 4 things we as Christians know about everything in the world?  1. It was created by God, 2. because of the Fall it’s been broken/ganked/abused/narcissistic because of sin, 3. it can be redeemed, and 4. it will ultimately be renewed.  (Creation – Fall – Redemption – Renewal… the plot-line of the Bible, and the bedrock of a gospel worldview...)

I think that our gospel worldview is big enough to handle Twitter… but I don’t expect his to be.

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  • Blogger Jacob Vanhorn says so:
    10:21 PM, April 23, 2009  

    Nice post bro. The Twitter haters have not seen how useful it can be to build/maintain community and extend our reach with the gospel top

  • Blogger Rev. David Lawrence says so:
    6:10 AM, April 24, 2009  

    I like the post, but the one problem with Twitter is that it's exclusive. The digital divide is huge. I don't dispute the advantages of tweeting, txting, fbing, etc., but the downside is that they widen the divide. top

  • Blogger TexasRivers says so:
    8:30 AM, April 24, 2009  

    I am blessed by learning more about my brothers and sisters at the Stone. What a great community. I like the comment about going from small to big conversation. that has happened with me as well, through facebook. top

  • Anonymous Jeff Patterson says so:
    9:27 AM, April 24, 2009  

    Great thoughts. Totally agree and share similar experiences as a pastor as well.

    Thanks for pointing us past the medium (and the symptoms) to see the central heart issue. top

  • Blogger .terra says so:
    2:04 PM, April 29, 2009  

    well done; well said. i have been so disappointed with the rash of articles, live and in person comments, and blogs such as the one you mention for the way they utterly miss the potential and possibility of much current practice with blogging, facebook, and twitter. our call as shepherds for all believers in general is to be salt and light,to be part of bringing the kingdom and restoration to every encounter. fb, blogging, and twitter are part of real postmodern community. it is vital that we move past the new and not improved neo-luddite thinking that you are making a case against. top

  • Blogger stew says so:
    8:56 PM, May 01, 2009  

    thanks for the feedback! top