On Twitter, as in life, as a Christian I sometimes feel I’m treading a fine line. How do I balance being authentic – which has to mean I don’t pretend to be a different, better person than I am – and being a good representative of Christ? What standards of behaviour should I expect of myself?
So here are my 10 Commandments for Christians Tweeps – or maybe that should that be Chreeps?
(My personal bugbear of people renaming everything with a ‘Tw’ in front of it didn’t make it into the final cut because that’s a stylistics thing and I’ve based this on the original 10 Cs which are concerned with less superficial matters!)
I’m sure the reader’s mileage will vary!
1) Put God first – Christianity is a relationship, not a set of rules. Try to serve God and God’s people in everything you do. Even if you try to hide your faith, people will pick up on it, and will judge God on by your actions.
2) Relate to everyone in the same way – it’s tempting to cultivate ‘famous’ and prominent Christians because it makes us feel a bit more important ourselves. But it’s obvious to other, ordinary people if we value them less. We should value each person equally, as God does.
3) Talk about your faith honestly – many people are interested in faith but don’t understand how it works in people’s lives. Being open and honest about our relationship with God and our life as Christians is the most engaging thing we can do.
4) Keep things in proportion – social media is a means, not an end in itself. God can still use those who are not up to speed with social networking. Despite our enthusiasm, we need to remember we’re called to deliver the Good News about Jesus Christ via social media not the good news about social media via our Christian networks!
5) Take care of face to face relationships with family and friends – my online friendships are important to me, but I’ve realised that online interaction can become a compulsion. Just because we CAN connect to Twitter via our mobiles doesn’t mean we SHOULD! Sometimes it’s important to turn away from our devices and give the people in the room our full attention. If you’re out of reach of the internet when you go on holiday, the internet will still be there when you get back.
6) Don’t damage people – of course we can’t literally murder someone online. But we can destroy someone’s peace of mind, their reputation or fill up their timeline with arguments. Think about the potential effects of what you’re posting, and if in doubt – don’t!
7) Apply the same rules to all your relationships – it can be tempting to think of that different rules apply to online relationships. But what happens in cyber space doesn’t always stay in cyber space. We need to be consistent in our values in all our relationships.
8) Respect other people’s intellectual property – acknowledge what you use, ask permission where necessary and observe copyright rules. God sees even our shortest retweet – and so might the person you’ve copied it from!
9) Be sure your Tweets will find you out - the internet never forgets. If you don’t want Mr Google to find it, don’t post it!
10) The Kingdom of God is not measured in Klout scores – people often use Twitter to announce their successes and their increasing influence. Don’t fall into the trap of envying or trying to copy other people’s achievements. A kind word to someone who is struggling, a prayer, replying to someone who feels ignored – these are the mustard seeds we can all sow.