Thinking Out Loud

March 7, 2023

When Social Media Means Having a Voice at the Table

Filed under: Christianity — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 9:56 am

According to Twitter, today marks 10 years since I signed up for the platform. That’s not nearly as long as many whom I follow, but longer than others. They provided a tweet with a graphic image that I could use to mark the occasion, but it was rather dumb so I passed.

I see Twitter more as an opportunity than anything else. An opportunity to engage with people I really respect. Given the choice between Facebook and Twitter, and told I can only keep one, Facebook would be gone in a heartbeat.

But to fully express my appreciation, we have to go back and talk about email.

Do you ever read the names of other people who are recipients of emails you receive? Today people are more cautious about what is visible, but years ago there was a work-related email that had been forwarded multiple times. I recognized one of the names as the president of a large publishing corporation. I held on to that contact information like I was stewarding something rare and valuable.

About a year later, I took advantage of having his info on file and responded to something that was taking place at the time, something in which I felt that my unique perspective would prove to be helpful. I remember more about that aspect of the communication than the final outcome, but I do recall the feeling of getting past the executive secretary in the outer office, so to speak, and sitting across the desk from the person himself.

With Twitter, I get to do the same on a more regular basis with people who are making a difference in the fields that are important to me; most often related to Christianity and culture. It’s not just through replies — I do that regularly — but in the occasions where the person receives DMs (direct messages) and is someone likely to recognize my name from some past interaction.

Still, I consider myself stewarding valuable potential contact opportunities, and it is not something I ever abuse.

If you try to leave a comment on my blog, after you click you’ll see it says, “Value-added comments only.” I put that in there many years ago, because I was tired of having to approve comments that merely said, “Nice article;” or “Good work.” (At the time, a lot of those were a form of spam anyway.) I wanted to hear from people who were willing to engage with the topic at hand.

In most respects, any time I use direct messaging on Twitter, I try to make absolutely sure that my comment is “value added;” that it contains some additional information that the recipient will find helpful in that moment. It gives me a seat at the conference table; or in board room. It gives me a voice. People, especially if they feel they have any level of expertise on a given subject, just want to be heard.

However, I’ve occasionally used Twitter messaging as a desperate act where other means of communication have failed. Most recently, I’ve encountered people and organizations whose websites don’t contain a contact option; not even a form to fill-in to get in touch. Some people want the communication to be one-way, and they would rather talk than listen. If I absolutely can’t find a back door, I’ll try going through Twitter.

My only regret is that when I saw the slow decline of blogging, I switched many of my creative energies over to Twitter. This was problematic in several ways. First, long-form writing gives more space to really flesh out an idea, and leaves less room for ambiguity and misunderstanding. My early tweets were in the 140-character limit days, and there were no threads. Imagine.

Second, tweets aren’t highly searchable; they aren’t indexed. This is also my issue with podcasting. But podcasting also has the opposite problem when it comes to fleshing out a concept or idea: There is no concision. In a busy world, concision is the communications skill people need. Podcasts just ramble on. I receive updates on a handful of them, but am not subscribed to any. And don’t get me started on photo-based or image-based social media. You are lucky if the person posted a caption.

I keep telling my wife she would enjoy the interaction on Twitter. If anyone says it’s a cesspool of uninformed opinion, I would say it depends on who you follow. You could criticize Reddit for the same reasons, but no one is compelling you to enter any particular conversation. You simply need to be selective, both on the very subreddits you follow, and the threads you choose to examine. I tell my wife she should simply sign up and follow all the people I follow.

Unlike Facebook, I don’t know all the people I follow in Twitter. Sometimes I will just read something insightful that was retweeted, and click over to the original person’s profile page, and decide they are worth following. And I’m more than willing to unfollow if they start down a different path.

I never enjoyed the success on Twitter that I did with blogging. From appearing on three different lists of the “Top 100 Christian Blogs” to having only a mere 600 followers on Twitter is quite a social media decline. It just didn’t work out numerically. But it means I keep the number I follow to scale, again 600.

Sadly, that doesn’t mean I see their every tweet. I have to go looking for some of them periodically and catch up on things I missed. Were it possible, I’d like to exchange some harsh words with the algorithm. And there are far too many advertisements, at least on my phone app.

The news a few weeks ago that Elon Musk might shutter Twitter was cause for personal alarm. It wasn’t that I was afraid of losing content; of losing memories. It was more a regret that I hadn’t stayed more faithful to my blog, Thinking Out Loud. However antiquated blogging may appear, it’s still the best option of writing something which leaves a permanent record.

In the meantime, I get to interact with the up-to-the-moment thoughts of leaders, creators and observers working in the disciplines and organizations I truly value.



  1. Paul. I have followed your blog for a few years now (not even sure where I first got it from). Used to enjoy your daily posts and your Wednesday links. I really like the format and your in depth analysis of things that mattered to you. As someone from England it always amazed me with your posts about worship music etc and the troubles of North American evangelistic life in Mega Churches etc. Those types of things don’t occur to us with our churches of 20/30 congregation without a 10 piece band just a single person on the piano/organ and a much simpler approach . It just interested me and I loved reading it. Just one point though. You say that you only wanted “value added” comments and don’t want the “nice post” etc. Please realise that sometimes people from afar can enjoy and be engaged with a post and wish to comment without having anything particular to say.. So they just wish to tell you that they enjoyed it. Hope that you’ll return to blogging rather than Facebook or Twitter. Much more sociable.

    Comment by Mark Bushell — March 7, 2023 @ 1:15 pm

    • Hi Mark. Thanks for finding a way to say “nice post” after all!
      The megachurches really dominated the conversation for most of my key blogging years and set the agenda for all North American churches, big and small. Perhaps I got too caught up in that.
      Post Covid-19 we have new realities. My wife works part time at a church that averages 35-35 weekly, and I am currently attending and occasionally helping out at a different church that averages 40-50 weekly. Still, I see elements the megachurch still hiding in the shadows, so to speak.
      That’s what made the Asbury Revival so refreshing. It shattered those stereotypes, and offered a new model.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — March 7, 2023 @ 3:19 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Your Response (Value-Added Comments Only)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: