I’ve been using Twitter for more than a year now. I can honestly say it’s not my favorite social networking tool, but because of what I do and how our office communicates, it’s one more way to have a voice among women’s missions and ministry leaders.
When I started using Twitter, very few of the students I work with at church had an account. In fact, the research I had seen showed Twitter wasn’t really attracting teens, but older adults. Until recently.
For the past few months, many of the students in our ministry have started using this social networking platform. I follow many of them and several of them follow me. It’s a great way to communicate things quickly. That’s a positive and a negative.
Do you remember the old “Telephone” game? You know, the one where one person starts with a conversation and it gets passed to several people? In the midst of the conversation, the message gets changed or misinterpreted. I’m seeing this happen with students and Twitter.
What students sometimes don’t realize is that every time they post a comment on Twitter, their followers see it and then it can be “retweeted” several times over. There seems to be a wreckless thought process about what they post. Did they mean for several hundred people to know how they got dumped by their boyfriend or how they flunked a test? I was embarrassed when one girl mentioned “escaping” from her house with a friend without her parent’s knowledge.
About a month ago, this happened to my 16-year-old daughter (who, by the way, does not have a Twitter account). She was leading worship with a friend on a Wednesday night. The monitors weren’t working properly and they couldn’t hear the instruments very well. Apparently, the vocals weren’t stellar and one of the boys instantly tweeted about how “lousy” the music was that night. Before the service was over, everyone with a Twitter account in the room (and beyond) had seen his comment. It was hurtful and thoughtless. It hadn’t occurred to him that the message was being received by one of the girls leading worship. Ouch. Talk about a friendship fracture.
My daughter came home that night with a bruised heart and a bruised ego. I was proud she actually confronted the “tweeter” and asked if he realized his actions were hurtful and not honoring to the Lord. She reminded him worship was not about the quality, but about the Creator to whom they were worshipping. He apologized and admitted it wasn’t the best move on his part.
If you’re the parent of a teen or you work with students, help them navigate the world of social networking. Help them understand what’s appropriate. Help them understand some conversations are better handled face to face and not through social media. By the way, I’m going to be more careful too.