Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Twitter the First

Yesterday was satisfyingly busy.  Meeting followed conversation followed meeting, with working and thinking and sermon-cogitation woven in and around all of it.

And in the thick of it all, Twitter hummed away behind one tab of my browser.  My wanderings through the twitterness have continued over this month, and yesterday, I found myself experiencing yet another world event through this peculiar medium.

It really is like being in a scene from the Incredible Journey, sitting there in your tiny little nanosub and watching the neurons in the vast cortex around you light up and flash and blort out transmitters around you.

No, wait, Incredible Journey was the one with the dogs.  Um...what's that film know, the futuristic one with Raquel Welch playing the Helpless-Eye-Candy-"Girl"-Who-Will-Eventually-Need-Rescuing?  Um.  No, not that one.  Oh, right.  The Fantastic Voyage.

As there are many, many co-religionists populating my corner of the global brain, yesterday was an endless blorting yarp of Papal tweets.  Some were earnest prayer-tweets from Catholics.  Many were goofy metacommentary, as the addled popcorn brain of our social macroorganism nattered on about smokestacks, cannabis, and some random seagull.

It trended and trended hard, to the point where even tweeting teens who use Twitter to let the world know about their every self-absorbed moment noticed.  "What the [Freak] is all this [flipping] Pope [poop]?  OMG I dunt care abt disss [excrement]!!! #whocares"

When the selection came, though, what my Twitter feed almost instantaneously let me know was the name of the Pope, the name he had chosen, and that as a Cardinal he had his very own Twitter account.  Surely, surely that's a first.

What is this human being like, I wondered.  Traditional media outlets were talking Jesuit, and waxing on about St. Francis of Assisi, and talking about "care for the poor," and "spartan lifestyle."  It sounded promising.

But Twitter means he'll be talking about himself and what was important to him, so of course, I clicked and went there.  I'll admit that Twitter's not the very best medium for really knowing someone, but you can get a hint.  That I'm a slightly goofy pastor who's into quantum physics and theology would become quickly apparent, for example.

What I found were two tweets about his becoming Pope, and then a lot of prior tweets with hashtags en Espanol.  They consistently read things that would translate like #nogayadoptionever and #whygaysshouldn'tbeallowedtoadopt.   Oh Lordy, thought I.  Is this what matters to him?  It certainly seemed to be, as the peculiarly warped mirror of that social media presented Bergoglio to the world.

Couldn't it have been #behumble, or #loveyourneighbor, or #jesuslovesyou or #careforthepoor?   As the old hymn goes, They will know we are Christians by our #hashtags, by our #hashtags....


But I didn't give in to the temptation to tweet about it, because I don't really know Francis yet.  Wisdom holds it's tongue, and watches until it is sure.  Best to think, to stand back, to observe, and not to give in to the 24 second news cycle.  Human beings are complex creatures, not easily reduced to #hashtags or their most extreme perspectives.

A social media platform's got to know its limitations.