Almost a year ago I joined the microblogging phenomenon called Twitter. As common with many people, I doubted its value at the onset. What could one possibly communicate in 140 characters or less?
But I did join the Twitterverse, and its value has far exceeded my expectations. My oldest son, Sam, introduced me to this new world, and uber-tweeter Ed Stetzer (@EdStetzer) has mentored this aging baby boomer in the world of Twitter.
It seems a bit strange that I now identify people with “@” in front of their names. But it is even stranger that it seems normal to do so now.
My purpose in writing this treatise is not to persuade you to join Twitter. Some find little value in it; some find great value. And I don’t intend to suggest that my reasons for valuing Twitter would be the same as yours. But perhaps one of two of these reasons may give you pause to consider how you may benefit by being a part of this community.
The ten reasons are not listed in a preconceived order of importance. Rather they are listed in a chronology that shows how the value of Twitter has grown with me.
1. Family connectivity. My sons live hundreds of miles from Nellie Jo and me. I joined Twitter initially so I could follow them and keep up with their lives better. Now all three sons (@SamRainer, @ArtRainer, and @JessRainer) are a part of the Twitterverse, as well as my wife (@NellieJo). Recently one of the son’s dogs joined Twitter.
2. Community. My experience with Twitter is that most of the people are friendly and social. I have made friends that I would not likely ever know outside Twitter. One of my favorites is @RDBones, whose real name is Roy Polmanteer. Roy is a full-time deputy sheriff and a volunteer firefighter living in central Arizona. And he is one of the greatest encouragers I’ve ever known.
3. Information. Twitter offers a wealth of incredible information. If I want to find out about a topic of interest, I enter the topic in the search and I receive more information from fellow tweeters than I could ever use. Most of the tweets have great links that guide me to even more information.
4. Immediacy. When I received word that my friend and former student, Fred Winters, had been shot and killed while preaching, I turned to the Twitterverse to get on-the-scene and immediate information. The tweeters I read were always ahead of more traditional media.
5. Listening. Sometimes I just need to be quiet and hear what others are saying. Whether I’m following particular people or a particular topic, I often get a strong sense of how the grassroots think.
6. Prayer. I would guess the representation of Christians in Twitter is similar to that of the general population. I do know that anytime I request prayer, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the responses of tweeters.
7. Sharing my beliefs. I am unapologetic about my Christian faith, but that does not mean that I have to be abrasive. I find that on Twitter I can enter into a great conversation with non-Christians as long as I show common courtesies and kindness. I really love being a “Twitness.”
8. Representing my organization. I am well aware that when I tweet, I am not just Thom Rainer; I am LifeWay Christian Resources as well. I have many opportunities to share the message of LifeWay, but I have to be careful not to be crassly promotional. Perhaps the best aspect of the LifeWay connection is simply listening to the input of others.
9. Crossing generational barriers. I recently engaged in a fascinating conversation with someone who had incredible insights. I went to this person’s Twitter profile and discovered that I was communicating with a 16-year-old male. What an opportunity! I was honored that he was willing to spend time with an old geezer like me.
10. Having fun. Twitter is often fun. I really enjoy interacting with those who have a healthy and clean sense of humor. And sometimes they think I’m funny.
As the Roman road system opened the way for the spread of Christianity in the first three centuries, Twitter can be another great opportunity to communicate far beyond what we thought possible. Like any other medium, Twitter can be used for evil, but it is not intrinsically bad. To the contrary, I see it as a wonderful tool and a wonderful opportunity. With that said, I will conclude this blog.
It’s time for me to tweet again.