On Being Perverse

A light-hearted post for Friday, I thought. Something that nods vaguely in the direction of today’s reading from the Rule of St Benedict (the seventh step of humility, RB 7. vv 51–54) and its insistence that we should be modest about ourselves, not in a Uriah Heep way, but genuinely. But, alas, I made the mistake of looking at a news web site where a large photo of President Donald Trump stared back at me and there was mention of his latest problems with Twitter.

Now, I have to admit that Mr Trump’s doings and sayings often enthrall me, but not usually in a good way. I feel rather the same about the doings and sayings of Mr Johnson, our Prime Minister. But many people think that, because I’m a nun, I shouldn’t have an opinion about politicians, and if I do, I ought not to express it; so may I be perverse instead?

You will have noticed that, in addition to the verified Twitter accounts of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, there are, at any one time, usually a number of parody accounts. Some have caught the tone of their originals so well that one has to look twice to be sure one is reading a parody, not the real thing. I find that disconcerting at times. In the same way, I find the adoption of aliases also a little vexing. Coming from someone who has been using ‘Digitalnun’ as her pseudonym since the late 1980s, my objection is rather illogical, but I said I was being perverse.

I wonder about some of the aliases chosen. Is ThomasAquinas (not to be confused with Fr Thomas Aquinas O.P.) really a Thomist after the Angelic Doctor’s heart? Does God truly speak for God, and are the utterances of the Twitter Jesus anything like those of our Lord and Saviour? (The answer in all three cases is ‘no’.) To take a great name and use it for oneself suggests modesty (good) but can be misleading (bad) or even a little silly (like a baby trying to emulate the grandiloquence of Dr Johnson). It depends in each case.

So, here is my apology for a thought this morning. If you use an alias for your social media accounts, why? Are you honouring someone you admire, trying to be funny or hiding your own identity out of fear of repercussions? I’m not sure how to answer that question myself. Digitalnun seemed a good idea at the time. I’ve always liked the anonymity of the ‘by a Benedictine of . . . ‘ approach. Perhaps I should re-think, too. Then at least I could argue that I wasn’t being perverse.

Happy St Boniface’s Day!

Audio version

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