A Short Ode to Twitter | Sojourners

A Short Ode to Twitter

A screenshot of the author's tweet from March 2020, one month before writing his first piece for Sojourners, and one year before being hired as assistant news editor. Mitchell Atencio/Sojourners

If there was ever a moment for an ode to Twitter, this could be it. The social media platform, which has taken an outsized role in our broader culture, was tentatively bought by Elon Musk yesterday.

Since the announcement, many Twitter users have been collectively lamenting. Some fear an immediate collapse, others worry about our unencrypted DMs, and others believe that Musk’s petty and unimaginative behavior will slowly erode what we love about Twitter. None of us can predict the future, but all of these prognostications seem plausible to me.

My favorite reactions have been from users who, like me, joined Twitter long before we used it primarily for our careers, networks, or following the news. And we’re not leaving. I’ve been on the website at least since 2011, when I was still a teenager. I think I was on earlier, but I can’t prove it because my original account has gone to dust (thank goodness).

I have genuinely grown in immeasurable ways through Twitter. I was a white, homeschooled, conservative Christian; I used Twitter to learn from the Black Christians who built my favorite genre — Christian hip-hop. I saw racism, misogyny, and heterosexism rampant in the community — and sometimes in my teenage self. At an uncharacteristically humble moment, God convicted me to sit back and listen to my siblings in Christ who were marginalized by those with power.

Twitter, importantly, was not the end of my learning but the medium that set me on the path I’m on today. I set careful boundaries on my Twitter usage: I limited my following to 500 people to declutter my timeline. For a time, I followed people who I knew I disagreed with and took a vow not to reply to their tweets with disagreement. And I started a tradition of leaving Twitter from Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

The changes in my life didn’t stem from strangers on the internet, however, but from the kind and careful engagement of people who became friends. I’ve got a heap of people I know I can call for coffee recommendations when I’m in their city (shout out to Ray), I’ve gained work opportunities and friends across the indutry (shout out to Tyler, Aarik, and Daniel), and I’ve also gained some of the best friends of my life: Kaitlin, Sara, Matthew, Ian, and countless others.

Twitter is a strange thing — if it’s any singular thing at all. If it does come to an end, I hope we’ll look back reflectively and carefully, learning from what we got right, what we got wrong, and growing into the future. Danny Duncan Collum modeled this in the April issue of Sojourners where he reflected on 35 years of column writing. And while we wait for the end of Twitter, we can read the brilliant columns, reviews, and commentary that fill the world around us.

1. I Started Writing This Column 35 Years Ago. Where Are We Now? by Danny Duncan Collum
Two big things have happened that exploded many of my expectations and drastically altered the cultural landscape.

2. In ‘Fear,’ the Hosts — Not the Refugees — Are the Real Threat by Zachary Lee
The Bulgarian film shows the hollowness of performative hospitality.

3. Christians Need a Renewed Imagination, Not ‘Copaganda’ by Joe George
Police thrillers like Ambulance imagine a world of ‘good guys’ vs. ‘bad guys.’ Jesus saw it differently.

4. Ghost Nebula by Laura Reece Hogan
A poem.

5. When God Feels Distant, ‘Attached to God’ Offers Helpful Guide by Indhira Udofia
With relatable examples and tools for reflection, Krispin Mayfield uses attachment theory to help readers renegotiate their relationship with God.

6. We Can ‘Rethink Sex’ Without Reviving Purity Culture by Jennifer C. Martin
Christine Emba’s Rethinking Sex is right to critique consent-only sex ethics, but fails to offer a healthy, inclusive way forward.

7. We Don't Sing About Bruno by Joey Chin
If you have any questions, please address those to your parents on the car ride home.

8. Taking up a Theology of a Disabled God by Elisa Rowe
Amy Kenny’s My Body Is Not a Prayer Request — part memoir and part disability justice hermeneutic — is a challenge the church desperately needs.

9. The Grip of Idols by Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg
An excerpt from The Hidden Order of Intimacy: Reflections on the Book of Leviticus.

10. Discomfort May Be the Point by Da’Shawn Mosley
This 2015 HBO miniseries' title is a hint. “Show me a hero and I’ll write you a tragedy” is how the full F. Scott Fitzgerald quote goes.

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