Several months in, I have to say that I’m enjoying Twitter. But I also despair over all the things the new technology has wrought in terms of reducing literacy.
- Twitter forces us to compress a message to 140 characters; usually Tweets are sentence fragments.
- Texting forces us to compress words, resulting in thngs which aren’t really wrds at all.
- Spell-check means that in many cases, the computer itself is filling out and completing our thoughts. Spell-check is on, weather you want it or knot. I think you no where I’m coming form on this point. (Yep, no mistakes there!)
- Facebook tends to be absorbed with the minutiae of our lives, with little regard for the interest others might have in such trivia, hence a major loss of depth. Left to continue for a generation, we may forget how not to be shallow.
- Tumblr and Pinterest rely entirely on visuals. So while it’s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture replaces a thousand words. I don’t buy a second car and write about the year, make and model, my trip to the dealer, or who owned the car previously, or why we needed it; I simply post a phone-quality resolution photo with the caption, “Bought this today.” Yes, but what is it?
- That said, isn’t it interesting that the cell phone or mobile phone, designed for communication now contains a camera? What does this say about our preferred mode of transmitting our thoughts and informing others as to our activities?
- A culture of “copy and paste” means we often parrot the words of others without personalization. We re-Tweet, re-blog and regurgitate what a few key communicators are saying without including any personal editorial comments, to the point that often others wonder if we’re agreeing or disagreeing.
- What verbal communication that remains tend to be more oral than written. We are rapidly moving from literacy to orality, not unlike many more primitive societies in remote parts of the world.
What does all this mean to those of us whose priority in life is to follow Christ?
- Attention spans are being rapidly diminished; we need to rethink all manner of Christian communication, both in terms of online activity, but also simple things like how preaching happens or how small groups are led.
- At the same time, we have to be willing to contribute to the glut of communication taking place. We have a message to bring, a message we want shared.
- We need people to construct eye-arresting visuals (both static images and motion video content) that communicates the truth of scripture.
- We need to engage a greater use of story to capture the attention of people over the duration of longer narratives.
- We need to affirm our position as readers, the thing that separates us from animals. Therefore we need to model this for our children, and then having set an example, keep our kids supplied with age-appropriate books of all kinds, both fiction and non-fiction, faith-focused and general-interest.
- Similarly, we need to passionate about thought about ideas. We need to allow ourselves immersion into what key writers and leaders are saying.
- Everyone writing online needs to practice a greater level of concision. This is somewhat related to the first priority; we need to get our message across more efficiently.
- While the message of the Gospel is simple enough that we can receive it as a child, we need to be careful not to lose an appreciation of the intricacies and complexity of scripture. We need to approach God’s word as a multi-faceted jewel and examine at different angles to see the refractions and reflections it produces.