Tweaks for Better Twitter

This is another attempt to speak a little grace and hope into the way you think about social media, particularly Twitter. If you use Twitter instead of Facebook, you already have an advatage. Twitter doesn’t require a follow back or “friending,” and this means you can follow whoever you want. Conversely, people can follow you without you having to follow back and see everything they post.

If you are frustrated with Twitter itself, chances are some of your frustration could be allieviated by changing a couple settings: uncheck “show me the best Tweets first” and use the mute feature.

First, I don’t think many people realize that Twitter allows you to mute certain words or hashtags. This means you can filter out just about everything you dislike about social media. For example, I have #SCOTUS, #POTUS, and the word “Trump” muted. Chances are that my Twitter experience is much better than yours because of three simple mutes. Anytime there is an annoying flare up of tweets you don’t like, just add another mute word or hashtag. It takes about 10 seconds. To access the mute settings go to Settings and privacy > Privacy and safety > scroll to the bottom and you will see Blocked accounts, Muted accounts, and Muted words.

Second, the Twitter app tries to show you the tweets they think you will be most interested in based on those you interact with most. You can adjust this setting in the Twitter app, but I don’t think many people know (1) that their timeline isn’t in chronological order by default and (2) they can change it. In the Twitter app, go to Settings and privacy > Timeline and uncheck “Show me the best tweets first.” Now, if you are following a live event, your timeline won’t be interrupted with old tweets. More info on adjusting your timeline settings can be found here.

The only remaining hurdle is ads (“promoted tweets”), and to fix this problem you will have to turn to an app like Tweetbot. Tweetbot is a solid, great looking app that can do all of the above and more. Check out their website for more info.

Should I Tweet This?

I hear people ask that frequently, but it’s something I rarely consider. Maybe I should, but I think people who ask this question have a different perspective on the function of social media than I do.

I get it. People are concerned that others will perceive their tweets as attempts to brag or show off. Maybe you just finished a major reading project and you want to say, “Hey, guys! I did it! I finished (insert book name)!” So you hesitate, and likely do not post. But do you hesitate to share things like that with your day-to-day friends? Should you hesitate to share things like that with your friends? What is a friend if you have to stop every time you want to speak to them and think twice about your words? This is where the breakdown in perspectives comes into play.

In my opinion, social media is for sharing things you love and are excited about. You don’t hesitate to share things you are excited about with your spouse. And what do you do when you sit around a fire pit with friends? You talk about things you are excited about, victories from the week and things you look forward to. You also note things you are excited about in a negative sense. There is a place for both the positive and negative in social media. There is a place for critique; it’s essential for reviews — reviews of products and ideas, not ad hominem attacks. But for me, the stated purpose of social media at the top of this paragraph is primarily intended to be positive. Social media is for sharing things you are happy about with people who are interested in those same things.

Those last few words are where the online platforms are so helpful. You see, you could just share things with people who are physically in your life. But how many people do you have in your day-to-day life who are genuinely stoked out of their mind about WWDC? I have 1. How many people do you see everyday who get more excited about the release of a new lexicon than the latest Marvel movie? I have maybe 5, but I don’t see any of them every day now that Shawn moved across the country. Social media connects you with others who share your niche interests.

That’s who I’m posting for, and that’s why I don’t often ask the question “Should I tweet this?” Posting to Twitter is like pulling up a chair by the fire pit and saying, “Guys, check this out!” You’re with friends. If anyone else is listening in, they can keep scrolling or unfollow.

A Benefit of Blogging and Tweeting

We frequently hear about the perils of social media. I want to point out one benefit. Regularly blogging and tweeting thoughts about Scripture helps one overcome the fear of publicly taking a stand.
As I begin to think about a potential blog post or compose a new tweet, I frequently feel a bit of fear. It’s very much like the fear I feel as I labor over a paper for a seminar. What will they think? Can I really make a good argument for this position? Can I support this from Scripture? Am I being too critical? Have I eliminated all those pesky typos? It’s a good fear, but it can be paralyzing. The secondary literature is endless. There is always someone out there who has read the Bible more, who knows the languages better, and has been active in your field longer. At some point, you have to stop the research and put pen (or keyboard) to paper (or pixels). At some point, the nuancing must come to an end, and your position must be stated.

The only way to overcome this fear is to speak up and try to humbly learn from critiques.  Social media offers us the opportunity to rehearse the process of overcoming anxiety and speaking up.

Perhaps in a couple hundred more tweets and fifty or so more blog posts I’ll get up the nerve to post my paper from last semester’s Septuagint seminar. 🙂