Who is the “You” in your Tweet?

Something that I find humorous and mysterious is when someone on Twitter (or Facebook) will send a Tweet across Twitterverse that appears to be directed at one person, but that person is never mentioned. A “Tweet” is a message that goes out to a place where countless people can see it, but these Tweets are designed for someone to get the message, but that person is not directly addressed.

For instance, I had one come across the week, “I don’t know why I try with you anymore.”

Another, “If I see you again, I’ll punch you in the face.”

And another, “You make me so angry and so happy.”

It would be nice to know if these folks  would give someone a heads up.

It’d be easy, “@joe_skillen, If I see you again, I’ll punch you in the face.” That’d be nice to know.

It’d be interesting if you were to check you Twitter/Facebook timelines how many of these you’d find.

Inevitably, there is a great chance that though these individuals are choosing to use the 2nd person instead of individual’s names, the message is getting across. But, it is still not clear.

What is going on with these Tweets? And with these “Tweeps?”

Perhaps there is a fear of confrontation. Instead of throwing fastballs, these folks are throwing change ups, or a softer version of direct confrontation. This is also seen in the frequent use of “kinda” in common language. Have you ever been in a meeting and someone says, “I think that we should… kinda… use our time… sorta… more productively”? A message/complaint is getting across, but not as confrontational as it could otherwise. My fear, though, is that words are spoken and nothing is being said in the process.

Perhaps these tweets, and others, are a window into the unbridled use of Postmodern tools, such as critique, deconstruction, skepticism, and sarcasm. Skating past a lot that can be said here, the tone of Postmodernism, usually, is to deconstruct and criticize, being skeptical of everything and everyone, who is not like us. For whatever reason it is more common to celebrate cutting humor, parody, and “snarkiness.” There is certainly times/places for these genres of communication. However, overuse creates a cowardly way to communicate, a “playing both sides of the chess board” type of dynamic. We get to say whatever we want and whenever someone gets hurt we say, “I was just kidding.” This shifts blame to the other (because they can’t take a joke) instead of ourselves (and our insensitivity towards others).

Plainly stated, we have a difficult time in relationships in our super-connected world. We’ve created ways to not be direct with others. Perhaps we are afraid that the disagreement will end a friendship. Tim Keller, among others, have expressed how disagreements may actually be a better sign of relationships than passive agreement. We are not in relationship with anyone unless they can contradict and challenge us. We should not be afraid to both receive direct criticism nor give it. These moments of tension test, reinforce, and deepen any relationship.

As we are in relationship, though, it is also important to build and plant, not just to critique, criticize, and challenge. We can’t see through everything, as CS Lewis once said, or else we will not really see… anything. Most things that we get worked up about are not as vital as they first appear. Let’s remember to keep things in proper proportion.


Published by joeskillen

I'm a husband, dad of 2, Pastor at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Wichita, KS.

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