Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Strange Life of the Livetweet

I've been following my denomination's biannual General Assembly over Twitter for the past few days, which is both convenient for me and stupid of me.

On the one hand, it gives me realtime microreflections on the dynamics of the event.  This is happening!  That is happening!  There are highlights.  Key quotes.  I am connected!  I am aware!

Then there are pictures of people sitting in drab featureless conference rooms, pretty much like every work meeting you've ever suffered through.  Only with spectators!

This must be like watching a multi-day cricket test match, I suppose, if both teams mostly just sat there and talked about the process by which they were going to establish the player/management committee responsible for developing new human resource policies.  Because, well, Presbyterians.

Here and there, glimmering like the sun peering through the clouds of polity, moments of charitable action and sublimity.  Those stirred near indecent twitter giddiness, the sort of thrill one gets when actually doing something.  For Presbyterians, it's an unfamiliar feeling.

On the other hand, Twitter filters the event through the most hideously reactive and manipulative communications medium in human history, the mad machine god of our dys-integrated collective subconscious.

So there's a little skew there.

It's a large skew, honestly.

Twitter tends towards snark, distraction, and the feral energy of conflict.  It magnifies polarities.  It may not be red in tooth and claw, but it would be if it were given meatspace form.

Now that I'm a conservative in my denomination, it would be easy to react to the reactiveness.   To read an overstated, unsubtle tweet cast off in a moment, and to snark back, or to rebut, or to kvetch.  To get into it.

I feel that trollish temptation, rising in my soul.

"Oh sweet Lord Baby Jesus, that's so utterly...gah.  I just...grrr."

Instead, I just listen.

And check myself.

And listen.

And check myself again.

Remember where you are, I tell my soul.