I have this week finally succumbed to the hype surrounding Twitter.
Now I am only a few days in, but I am struggling to work out what all the fuss is about. Don’t get me wrong, this is not going to be a post about the evils of social network sites and the like. As I have recorded before on these pages I am a big fan of Facebook and social networking has enabled me to catch up with quite literally hundreds of folk whom I had lost contact with. Social Networking is brilliant!
But Twitter. mmmm. Twitter. I am really not sure. While I am trying to remain open minded and wait to see what all the benefits and functions of the site maybe. But at the moment twitter to me is a string of unattached updates about people, some of which interest me most that do not.
In fact regular readers here and those that know me will know that I am less than convinced about the most recent changes to facebook. Twitter it seems is the model for those changes. Everything I dislike about the new facebook is there in twitter, only without all the other stuff that keeps me interested in FB.
Like I said I need to give it time, perhaps as I get more friends on Twitter it ‘s full potential as a social site will become apparent. Thinking back it took me a while to get into the swing of Facebook when I started using it first.
I do wonder though, if the success of websites like Twitter and Facebook and their ilk show something a little unsettling about our culture.
The internet is a great resource and with over 60% of all UK households now online, this has had a dramatic effect on the nature of community. For many people today, their neighbours, work place, local social events, Church or local pub no longer feature as part of their community. Rather they prefer to drive to another town to join a gym, or mix with people online. Some people have a closer relationship with someone they’ve never met living on the other side of the world then they do with there next-door neighbour.
More and more we are becoming defined by our personal preferences or attributes. In many ways this is perfectly natural and not always a bad thing. Like attracts like and always has done. But I can’t help feel that perhaps we are missing out on something special when we choose to opt out of wider society and only mix with people who are a similar age and who think, look and talk like we do. Transcending the boundary of our new communities is hard to do, and most of us are uncomfortable trying, it is simply easier to mix with people like ourselves.
When Jesus came to earth, he upset those very same community boundaries he ate with people the Jewish leaders would have nothing to do with, he talked to women (a big no-no for a guy in 1st Century Israel), to prostitutes, to lepers – to all those people that ‘polite society’ would have rather ignored. Not only did he mix with these unsavoury people, but he told them that they would inherit the earth, and that they were more likely to get into heaven than the ‘religious elite’ and the rich rulers.
But it wasn’t just the poor and the down-trodden Jesus mixed with, he also met with religious leaders and the well-heeled, the movers and shakers. No matter what their background Jesus was keen to show his message is for all people.
Community is more than ‘people like us’ it is a rich and diverse culture where we can share and revel in our differences, learn from each other and offer support to one another. Perhaps today we could follow Jesus’ example and go out of our way to get to know those around us who we might otherwise never end up meeting. If we try it, I think we will all benefit from it.