Why I’m Staying with Twitter — For Now

You will probably have read that many Catholics are abandoning Twitter and joining Parler, a social media site that promises a more civilized platform for debate and interaction. Many have urged me to do the same, but the majority of them seem to have a rather narrower understanding of the role of religion in society than I do myself. I don’t wish to interact only with those who share my beliefs or who see social media as existing principally to reinforce attitudes I don’t necessarily share. Most of us end up interacting with a lot of people who do share our beliefs, but that wasn’t why the community to which I belong has been engaged with social media for so many years. We decided, long ago in digital terms, that online interaction would bring us into contact with people who would never ring the monastery doorbell or read a religious book. It would expose us to ideas and challenges we might not otherwise encounter, and the results would be beneficial to both parties. I think that has been largely true, on our side, at least; and I would like to think that our being online has benefited others as well.

It is not just content we are talking about but the manner of our being online that matters. That is where I personally must take a large share of responsibility, for my community has always trusted me to do my best to reflect its values and priorities. I’m allowed to be humorous, teasing, make mistakes, pursue trivia, argue back. But if I get it wrong, I’m expected to apologize; I’m expected to be patient (I am sometimes). Above all, I’m expected to be courteous, and if I can’t manage that because my brain is fuddled with chemo or the prednisolone is roaring within or I simply got out of bed on the wrong side, then to be polite because I am not ‘just’ Sister Catherine when I go online, I’m a member of the community, a Catholic, a Christian. I don’t know whether I succeed or not, nor what effect my efforts have on others, but my hunch is that staying on Twitter and refusing to share in the acrimony, the bad language and all the other negativities we often lament has a point. No social media platform will get any better unless we engage with it and try to make it so. Evangelism has many facets and breaking down misunderstandings and hostility is one of them.

That is why I’m staying with Twitter, for now at least. Why should the devil have all the best tunes, said George Whitefield, misquoting Luther. Why indeed? Digitalnun’s take on that is why should the devil have all the best Twitter, either?


33 thoughts on “Why I’m Staying with Twitter — For Now”

  1. Well, that’s a relief! One of the sanest and most thought provoking voices on Twitter. And so true that avoiding alternative points of view simply reinforces one’s own mindset. Even reading the nasty responses (and any feminist will have had plenty of those) enables us to see how damaged some people are and why it’s so very hard to reach them.

    And for those who get totally exasperated with (back to the 60s) the ‘institutional church’, you remind us that wise women are there too, and that is a source of joy.

    • Thank you. I hae’ me doots about Parler, though that’s not the point of my post, as you realise. I don’t want to be in a bubble of any kine. But it does take time and energy to navigate Twitter so I’m glad many do.

      • It seems Parler is turning into a far-right version of Twitter, with appalling racist, abusive and hate-filled posts being tolerated. You’re quite right not to join it.

  2. I agree 100% . Being down amongst the sheep, as it were. I suppose you could do both, but I’m sure you have enough demands on your fragile energy supplies as it is. Thank you for your presence on twitter,

  3. Thank goodness for you. Nothing is all perfect except God. You are needed on Twitter. Your fearlessness is to be honoured. Don’t forget to look after you. Then you can go on looking after us.

  4. Thank you for all your thought-provoking, faith-filled, honest and open digital communication. I rely on you for a balanced daily insight into life.
    Thank you for the effort I know it must be for you. Take care.

  5. I’ll say amen to your post and the responses… You bless social media, and we so need to be reaching people outside our normal sphere of influence. Your sphere if influence is enormous, because of the humour, the truth, the mistakes, the teasing, the sheer effort to engage in discussion politely and courteously (and firmly). Bless you!

  6. Thank you for this, which I found reassuring and full of salutary wisdom. We have something of the same situation with our local Facebook pages. The “Friendly Bungay Page” is often anything but and I have never seen so many expletives all together in the space of one screenful. So a new page/group has come into being, which promises to be nicer, and to which I do contribute – but I make sure I keep a foot in the door of the original one. I wondered if that was worth it….but – yes, it probably is!

    • I’d say so, though sometimes one has to grit one’s teeth. I’m a great believer in the value of ‘the leaven in the lump’ but feel rather ashamed when I know I haven’t been ‘edifying’ myself.

  7. Thank you for your thoughtful reflection, and for reminding me that being engaged with social media carries a very significant responsibility (something I’ll try to remember more!)

    Please continue with your efforts – which I think succeed much more than anything else – and to bring a dose of good ole fashion wisdom, common sense, and humour to the Twittersphere!

    • Thank you. I remember the seriousness with which the late D. Elizabeth Sumner, a truly great abbess of Stanbrook, used to say ‘One day we shall be judged by every word we have spoken, every word.’

  8. I’m glad that you’re staying with Twitter! You are a kind voice of reason and many people appreciate your well thought out, relevant and articulate opinions on what is pertinent to Christian life today.
    I’ve discovered that since a certain ultra right wing tweeter was quite rightly banned, her many followers are going over to Parler with her and sadly, that includes a lot of ‘right wing’ Catholics who do not welcome the Gospel message.

  9. As always, you’ve brought optimism & hope to our daily walk. You keep us centered on a positive path. Feel your pain, love your humor & optimism and thank God for this medium to share my earth journey with you.

  10. Speaking as someone who does not share your religious beliefs (though I think we generally share ethical beliefs), your FB posts are a delight. I don’t use twitter, but if your tweets are of the same sort as you FB posts, all I can say is – don’t give up. Going into an echo chamber doesn’t help anyone.

  11. Dear Digitalnun

    You are anything but digital!!! You are a very human being sharing your knowledge and spirituality generously. Your do it so well in th digital medium, thank God.

    Stay safe. Every blessing.


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