Last week, Ray Ortlund quit Twitter. He offered three reasons:
- The good that can be accomplished on Twitter can also be accomplished, far more fruitfully, in real life.
- He is grieved by the behavior of Christians on Twitter.
- Twitter consumes time, and he has no time to waste.
Tim Challies commented, “Ray Ortlund’s reasons for leaving Twitter sound a lot like my own.”
I saw a few responses that look something like this:
I agree. Sometimes I’ve thought that I should get off Twitter, but then I thought of people I follow like Ortlund. It feels like we lost something significant last week.
I’m saddened by Ortlund’s decision, but I also respect it. He is a godly and wise man. I pay attention when people like him, or like Michael Haykin on Facebook, wrestle with whether to quit.
But here’s why I won’t be quitting, at least not yet.
I still remember reading these words by Al Mohler in A Conviction to Lead: “While we are right to prioritize real face-to-face conversations and to find comfort and grounding in stable authorities like the printed book, the digital world is itself a real world, just real in a different way … If the leader is not leading in the digital world, his leadership is, by definition, limited to those who also ignore or neglect that world. That population is shrinking every minute. The clock is ticking.”
Later, Mohler writes, “If you are not on Twitter, and if you are not working and following it regularly, you are missing a massive leadership opportunity.”
Mohler emphasizes the benefits of being on social media. Ortlund emphasizes the costs. Both are right. Is the tradeoff worth it?
I’m not sure. Every Christian must face that decision as a matter of individual conviction. To borrow from Paul, “Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind,” (Romans 14:5).
There’s good that comes from Twitter, but that good has a price tag. We should all pay attention to that cost.
My Calculation Right Now
The amount of good that I get from Twitter just went down with Ortlund’s departure. But I still get quite a bit of good, enough for me to want to stay on. I just need to be careful.
I love the randomness of Twitter. I love occasionally dipping my toe into the chaos. A random tweet can send me in a serendipitous direction. I enjoy being stimulated by those who express themselves well online. I learn a lot from them.
I also love the people I follow. Here are some of my favorites. I try to curate the people I read so I get as much value as I can.
I also love how Twitter allows us to make connections with others. I agree with Ortlund that in-person relationships are better, but that’s not always possible with people who live far away. I’m grateful for my online friendships and what I can learn from people far away.
But I’ve also learned that I need to set boundaries. I try to limit those I follow and stay away from the mess. So far, in my estimation, the benefit is worth the cost.
It may not be time to quit just yet, but it’s time to at least run that calculation through our heads. And if that calculation ever stops making sense, I hope we’ll have the conviction to quit just like Ortlund.
But, for me at least, that day’s not here yet.