Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

The world is a-Twitter

June 19, 2009

There seems to be no middle ground on the subject of Twitter. People either think it’s a huge waste of time, or they believe it’s the greatest thing since Christ died on the cross for our sins, crying out in his final words “OMG, OMG, y hast thou 4saken me?”

I generally fall in the former camp, but that’s probably because I’m an older gentleman who can’t understand why the world would be interested that I just flossed between my maxillary first molar and maxillary second molar, or took yet another breath, number 12,845 today. However, with the current political upheaval going on in Iran, and few opportunities for the Western press to report on the event first-hand, Twitter and other social media have gained new respectability in recent days for giving at least a narrow, self-involved view of what’s going on.

I wrote back in a January website review ( of the ridiculous legitimacy given to such commentators by CNN’s afternoon news coverage, hosted by Rick Sanchez and his army of Tweeters. Rather than do a fresh site evaluation this week, I thought I’d check in with to see how they’re reacting to breaking events half a world away being covered by people even more amateur than their regular staff.

First, however, I need to participate in the “Quick Vote” on their home page: “Would you like to live in the moon?” I’ll vote “no,” because there is no air there and, if you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ll know that a 75/25 mix of nitrogen and oxygen like the blend found here on Earth is my “favorite atmosphere.”

Now, let’s see what the social media types are contributing to the international conversation about the Iranian elections and their aftermath (original spellings and punctuation included):

  • We are at war in Iraq and Afghanistan who will be next North Korea or Iran
  • Iran needs a Leader not a Dictator, oh wait that’s America.
  • Sour losers send pictures!!! Hahaha, and Rick supports you. CNN has a history of spreading hatred and lies.
  • I need to sell this watch I have
  • We (the US) have toops on Iran’s Eastern and Western borders, and have our Navy on their Southern border. I think that’s enough influence in and on Iran.
  • If President Obama is the next Hitler, I will make sure I join him and gas your ass you dumb cracker!!!
  • David Letterman was just doing his job, he doesn’t right all his jokes, he was doing what he was told to say, and we think we have freedom of speech in America?
  • I have respect for you unlike most of the anchors on CNN. Beside you Jack is my fav and Anderson well he is just easy on the eyes.
  • If you have years and been diagnosed with schizophrenia, then maybe I’d understand a lot better when a person goes from weighing 130 to 190 in three months and still manages not to flip out ever
  • I live in the ATL and never see Ricky Sanchez
  • Is anybody covering what’s going on in Peru? What’s influence and and connection, if any, to the US privately controlled banks in Peru by certain individuals from Texas … Hmmm?
  • Nancy Pelosi and her husband had stock in AIG.
  • Hey Rick, just wanted to drop you a quick note. I think that whoever came up with the idea to interview an 11-year-old a day after his father was shot dead should be terminated immediately, that’s not news.
  • Look forward to you covering the overdue firing of Miss California USA
  • With cars like that we will be the Flinkstones for real.
  • Con-Agra has their own maintenance personnel … he was up on the roof which had not been deemed safe and he was wearing no safety equipment to be dealing with ammonia … did I see a face shield, a gas mask, safety shoes??? NO!!!
  • Al Gore may make heavy metal more popular by saying we need to put two parental notices on all music with explicit lyrics.
  • I wonder if they will get this page fixed or if Rick is just going to let it run itself into the ground, since he like Twitter so much more?
  • Rick Sanchez is an employee of wall street who line his pockets so he will say nothing bad about obama. Obama is also an employee of wall street. They are all puppets.
  • By the by, where is Francis? I miss the Dynamic Duo at work.
  • On the LA Lakers party … I think its ashame that they “have to” throw a party in a ecomnic crisis. Older people that have alztimers are being sent away while the fans celebrate.
  • OK I am on the short bus. You tell me about Africom.
  • I am not an employee that works for Rick. I am a normal everyday joe that gets on Ricks page to tell what I think about what is going on/wrong in our country.
  • Why is your mom trying to call me? She love me long time!
  • The election in Iran is a complete sham! The country might as well abolish election, because it’s merely a finger-painting event.
  • Looks like Ali Badri is one of those Ahamadijejad police opening twitter accounts to try to make it look like anyone actually voted for that thug.
  • Why doesn’t CNN do a story about all the moms that are sentenced each summer to lunatic kids dragging buckets of water between the kitchen sink and the backyard?
  • Democracy is coming baby! We bringing it to all of you guys, don’t worry.
  • You can delete my comments but my messages is eternal and they will follow you until the last day of your lives.
  • Check this out: former Chicago inmates … were handcuffed while giving birth. Can you please look into this story?
  • This man needs no respect from us nergos.

Fake News: Graduates get their marching papers

May 26, 2009

Commencement speakers continued dispensing their valuable advice to graduating seniors across the country this past weekend.

Addressing graduates at the U.S. Naval Academy, President Obama urged newly commissioned second lieutenants to “avoid being wounded if at all possible” and to aim for the highest goals they can achieve, whether in the military or in private life.

“I would urge you to either become an admiral and assign yourself to cruise the Caribbean or, if you leave the Navy, you can do as I did and seek to serve the public,” Obama told a large crowd in Annapolis, Maryland. “I would strongly encourage anybody who thinks they might be interested in the job to get elected president. The perks are incredible.”

Meanwhile, in an address to graduates at San Diego State University, the Octomom suggested students could best serve mankind by getting lip enhancements and giving birth to a litter of children.

“Don’t strive merely to achieve the fleeting satisfaction of fame and fortune,” Nadya Suleman told the assembled class of ’09. “Make a difference in someone’s life. Or in my case, the life of 14 very small yet very annoying, demanding and childish people.”

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck suggested graduates at Atlanta’s Emory University forsake some of the privileges and honors they’ve received in the interest of pursuing a greater good.

“When you march across this stage in a few minutes to receive your diploma, I challenge you to take that piece of paper and rip it to shreds,” the conservative pundit recommended. “A liberal arts education is, by very definition, liberal. If you live by your instincts rather than by your intellect, you’ll be a much happier individual. And, I can get you a job at Fox.”

Two American heroes in the news this year delivered commencement addresses with two very different themes. Capt. Chesley Sullenberger, the USAir pilot who successfully landed his disabled airliner in the Hudson River in January, urged graduates at the University of Illinois “not to fly a jet into a flock of geese thereby disabling both engines and causing you to ditch in the water.” Just a few dozen miles to the north at the University of Chicago, Capt. Richard Phillips of the Somali-hijacked Maersk container ship, told his audience to “not be boarded by pirates, taken hostage in a lifeboat and then nearly get shot while being rescued.”

Appearing at Nova University in Boca Raton, Florida, actor Ashton Kutcher declined to speak directly to the audience of 1,400 seniors. Instead, he stood at the lectern with his Blackberry and “tweeted” his commencement address.

“Just keep trying,” Kutcher wrote. “Never, ever give up, because the only person that can stop u is u.”

“OMG, that is so true,” messaged the crowd in response. “We rock.”

A revisit to NextLevel Church

April 26, 2009

A little while back, I reprinted an article about a local church that described itself as “rock ‘n’ roll-style,” and had spent large parts of its Easter service Twittering about members’ love for the Lord. The Next Level Church includes a number of creative twenty- and thirty-somethings who aren’t interested in evangelical churches that focus on what they call “the me-God relationship, with services full of prom songs to Jesus.” Instead, they wish to be with-it hepcats, as we fity- and sixty-somethings used to call them.

Today, I’m going to look a little closer at the Next Level Church through the blog they maintain on their website, Here are some highlights:

–In an economy like this, it flat out doesn’t make sense to give things away for free. I went to lunch yesterday at SubStation 2, which is AMAZING by the way, and they charged me 10 cents for water and 10 cents for ice. And that totally makes sense to me. (The name SubStation 2, however, does not make sense to me. Was there a SubStation 1? Is the sequel better than the original, which RARELY is the case? If history proves correct, there is a SubStation 1 out there that is the Mecca of sub shops. And I’m sure if I simply googled SubStation this mystery and my ignorance would be erased. I choose, however, to savor the unknown). My point is this: giving away free stuff just doesn’t make sense. Everyone is hurting financially and people should charge money for whatever people will pay for. Uh-oh. We have a problem. Next Level Church is an organization that exists to help people take their next step in their relationship with God, whatever that step is. Our teaching on the weekend is specifically geared towards helping people connect with God. We record these teachings every week on CD. Dilemma! To sell or not to sell?!

The week after Easter is traditionally one of the most “dead” weeks of the year at church. Well yesterday, you never would’ve known it was the week after church. Our volunteers were sharp and energized. The worship team did an incredible job with a tough Rascal Flatts tune – even being guys who don’t like country. The new high school service was borderline insane. (Actually, it WAS insane. As part of a game I drank an entire McDonald’s Happy Meal that had been blended up into a shake. It tasted like puke long before any of it came back up. Needless to say, the students LOVED it.) You guys rock!

–We continue to get notes and emails from around the country as media attention to our Easter Twitter experiment has spread. I love the unintended consequences of this sort of thing. Go God!

–The whole Twitter experiment hit hard (in a good way) this week! What’s that? You demand evidence?! Fine. Exhibit A: Check out the front page of the Charlotte Observer, fools!! Exhibit B: Check the local news, suckers!! Exhibit C: We were on CNN, what now!! Exhibit D: And Creative Loafing, woot woot!! (I’m not linking to their website because it can be a wee bit inappropriate). Your participation in the Twitter experiment allowed thousands of people disconnected from God and His Church to hear about Next Level. And on top of that everyone in people’s twitter-spheres (I just made that word up) heard about the amazing things God is doing.

–Easter Sunday was pretty fantastic. Pastor Todd kicked butt, and the band flat-out rocked. Here’s some background on how the service was planned: Harrison picks out music for the Easter service. His original choice, “Circus” by Britney Spears, is chided by the rest of the staff. Instead we decide to play “Come Alive” by the Foo Fighters and “Magnificent” by U2. Decision is made to film the Schweigers for a FamReality promo video. Orders pre-teen brothers to fight each other on film for a truly churchy moment. Band practice irons out all the kinks in Easter songs. Drummer threw down some hot beats. We are mad impressed and ready for Sunday.

Twittering with Ashton, Oprah and Jesus

April 18, 2009

Yesterday may turn out to be the day we look back on from future generations to say that Twitter finally took over Western civilization.

Ashton Kutcher triumphed over CNN in their closely watched race to be the first to reach a million “followers,” while Oprah Winfrey sent her very first tweet then, moments later, discovered she already had accumulated 130,000 followers.

“We have shown the world that the new wave is here,” pronounced Leader Kutcher shortly after his victory. “It is present and it is ready to explode.” Then he added the somewhat perplexing “I can’t follow me,” implying he would if he could.

Newbie Winfrey’s first tweet was broadcast on her talk show.


So today seems like it might be a good time to reprint an article that appeared in our local newspaper last Monday about a hip, young church that incorporated Twitter into its Easter service.

 * * *

STALLINGS, N.C. — As Pastor Todd Hahn sermonized onstage Sunday about St. Paul’s take on Jesus’ resurrection, Scarlett Hollingsworth bowed her head and brought her hands together.

She wasn’t praying, though. Her eyes were open, and her thumbs were busy. She was pounding out a short message on her BlackBerry.

It was time to Twitter:

“I’m listening to the teachings of Paul,” wrote Hollingsworth, known to those following her tweets as beingscarlett. “& wondering how many people need to hear that we can face hardship in life without fear.”

Most churches ask worshippers to turn off cell phones when the service starts. But at Union County’s Next Level, a rock ‘n’ roll-style church where Hollingsworth attended the 11 a.m. Easter service, members of the flock were encouraged to Twitter away on their cell phones, iPhones, BlackBerrys and laptops. Their messages landed on other cell phones – as well as online for those who looked in from a personal computer at home.

“I hope many of you are tweeting this morning about your experience with God,” Hahn announced before launching into his sermon.

Churches have been using the latest technology since the 15th century, when the Gutenberg Bible – a product of the printing press and movable type – paved the way for mass distribution of Scripture.

Later came radio, then TV, then the Internet, and now Twitter – 140-character message bursts designed to pass on what the sender is thinking at that moment.

Still, some of those tweeting Sunday couldn’t quite believe where they were doing it.

“So excited for the nextlevel Easter service!!” wrote GamecockCB. “Tweet from church?! Are you kidding?!”

Hahn, 40, said the idea was hatched by the church’s Creative Team of twentysomethings. They wanted to do something special for Easter.

With so many old and new churches competing for young people, some like Next Level are trying to stand out by embracing the latest technology: Web sites, blogs, and now Twitter.

Charlotte native Hahn acknowledged that the church’s accent on Twitter is partly a marketing tool. But he said it can also enhance members’ religious experience and build community.

Hahn said evangelical churches have focused so much on the me-God relationship – with services full of what he called “prom songs to Jesus” – that “we lose the communal aspects.”

“Twitter is a social network … that can remind us we are worshipping with other people. We’re not in a bubble,” he said. “And when people read some of the (tweets) they may have an ‘a-ha!’ moment, and say, ‘A lot of others look at things like I do.”

On Sunday, photographer Kristen Hinson, 24, felt liberated by the Easter message – and her ability to pass it along via cell phone.

“I love Next Level Church,” she Twittered. “The resurrection is like a sales receipt from God, a guarantee of what’s to come!!!”

Hollingsworth, 44, a designer at Central Piedmont Community College and a self-described techie, said it was hard sometimes to pay attention to the sermon and tweet. But, she added, the world is changing, and the church needs to change, too.

“If you don’t jump on the new technology, you’re going to lose opportunities,” she said. “We use it for work and for life. Why not church?”

Tweet Tweet

Here are some of the Twitter messages from Next Level Church on Sunday.

melissajackson3: Awesome foo fighters song to start the service at nextlevel.

imkay: Nothing u do 4 the lord is in vain.

desimae: I remember the day when Easter meant dressing up against my will and being bored for three hours at church …thanks, nextlevel for change!

psalm46: Resurrection is real; … He is still raising us day by day from this level on to the nextlevel, higher up and further in.

renwicks_lady: Getting ready for Nextlevel church, getting my texting thumbs stretched and ready to go!!!!

charburns: nextlevel had awesome music today and yes i am twittering in church.


Twitter too much? Try “!”

March 9, 2009

Blogging has been around long enough now that it’s hardly even new media any more. It’s definitely become the long form of virtual publishing, and seems to be waning a bit as shorter messages are increasing in popularity. Facebook condensed the form drastically, providing mostly just the facts and some embarrassing, though fortunately poorly-framed, photographs.

Now we see the ascent of Twitter into a mainstream consciousness that rivals the Octomom, Rush Limbaugh and even trivial stuff like massive bank failure. Twitter’s limit of 140 characters forces even more concision on the part of the user, requiring one to get the point faster than ever. If we want to communicate with our fellow man via this method, we need to choose every letter and punctuation mark with the kind of care that used to be reserved for bathroom graffiti written with a fading Sharpie.

Oh yeah, and there’s still real-life verbal conversations with real-life people, but nobody does that any more.

Now we’ve arrived at a place where even Twittering is taking too long. There was huge wave of negative publicity directed at members of Congress who spent more time thumb-wrestling their BlackBerrys than paying attention to the recent presidential address before a joint session of Congress.

So I’m proud to introduce the most concise digital messaging system yet available: a new service I call “!” (so far unpronounceable, though I have my marketing people working on that). “!”, as the name implies, allows users only a single character to describe what they’re doing, how they feel, what they like, or which ravine their car has plunged into.

Here are some of the more common messages being seen so far:

“A” – A greeting, usually elongated into something like “aaayy!”, like what Fonzi used to say.

“B” – A bid to practice existentialism; or, a panicked call for assistance about the bee on your forearm.

“C” – Look here.

“G” – Golly, gosh, jiminy and/or holy Moses.

 “I” – There’s something I need to say about me; or, there’s something I need to say about what’s in my eye.

 “J” – Only for use with friends who are named “Jay”.

 “K” – Alright already.

 “L” – Guess where I’m !-ing from – the elevated mass transit system of Chicago.

 “M” – How many points are there in an em-space?

“O” – I wish to express a strong emotional reaction such as surprise, shock, pain, or extreme pleasure.

“P” – Can you use your global positioning system to locate the nearest restroom for me, like, RIGHT AWAY!

“Q” – Take a prompt from me. You need to get in line to play pool.

“R” – Are you going to eat that?

“S” – You’re such an ass.

“T” – We should get together soon over a nice cup of tea.

“U” – You are the person I’m thinking about right now; or, I am a sheep.

“W” – I just saw former president Bush snacking off the samples tray at Costco.

“X” – Can you pick up some eggs on the way home from work?

“Y” – Why don’t you just bite me?

“Z” – This conversation is going nowhere; I seem to be drifting off …

You can also use non-letter characters, such as:

“,” – Help, I’m falling into a coma.

“:” – I seem to have been bitten by a venomous snake.

“_” – I really need to lie down for a while.

“{“ – I wish to become a portrait artist.

“~” – I’m having a great time at the beach, and I wish you had curly hair.

“#” – Want to play tic-tac-toe?

“%” – Can I have some of that?

“+” – I died on the cross for your sins; I hope you appreciate it.

“=” – I’m taking a shortcut home by walking on the train tracks, but I think I hear a thunderstorm com—“

“*” – I’ve discovered a new star in the heavens.

“^” – Look – up in the sky – it’s a bird, it’s a plane… no, it’s a huge burning asteroid and it’s heading right for us. Arrrhhh, we’re all going to die!

“!” – The coolest thing in instant communication for at least the next week.