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Pilgrim, priest and ponderer. European living in North East England. Retired parish priest, theological educator, cathedral precentor and dean.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The Responsible Tweeter

This is my 50th blog as the Decanal Woolgatherer.  What to write to mark this half-century?

This has been my first year of trying my hand at using social media.  In that time I have become especially interested in the opportunities and threats they pose, and what constitutes a responsible, ethical use of them. In particular, Twitter has caught my imagination for its elegant miniaturism, how so much can be said in so little.  But this can be for good or ill – and for interesting or boring.

I wrote an early blog about the spirituality of Twitter which you will find buried on this blogspot below the output of the last few months. But I thought I would try my hand at twelve principles or commandments of Tweeting.  Others have offered good online guides to Twitter that contain many or all of these.  However I’ve encapsulated each principle in 140 characters or less so they can be lifted out of the blog and tweeted self-referentially in the very medium for which they are, not so much a set of imperatives as a series of hints and nudges. The emphasis is on the positive: mostly 'dos', a few 'don'ts'.  

Here goes then.


1        Be judicious. Powerful tools need careful handling. You are on a public stage.  Apply the same criteria as you would to any public medium.
2        Be chaste. Promiscuous tweeting suggests addiction. Only press ‘send’ when you have something to say. If not stay silent.
3        Be courteous. Don’t disparage or insult others (you risk libel as in any print medium). In dissent, be questioning rather than assertive.
4        Be disciplined. 140 characters impose a verbal boundary. Stick to it and don't sprawl lazily across multiple tweets on the same topic.
5        Be conversational. The art of tweeting is to engage with others, not hurl speeches into the void. Invite responses and give them.
6        Be interesting. Life is not all information, observation, profundity or humour, but don’t bore followers with trivia. Try to be original. 
7        Be tentative. The question-mark is a great way of turning bald statement into an invitation to explore. Better to travel than stand still.
8        Be communitarian. Social media are at their best in creating online communities and relationships. It is good not to be alone. Join in.
9        Be discreet. Don't break confidences, substitute for meeting, hold private conversations publicly or disclose improperly. Keep boundaries.
10      Be wise. Twitter can raise awareness, affirm spiritual and humane values and inspire others. Serve truth, goodness, justice and wholeness.
11      Be generous. Share your own good things: stories, photos, blogs etc., and others' too.  Retweet/favourite the best. But don't self-promote.
12      Be relaxed. Don't obsess about follower numbers (sins of pride or envy). Small communities are often the best. Learn, grow, chuckle, enjoy. 

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