top of page


twitter: “a short burst of inconsequential information”

   Fifteen years ago, on St Swithin’s Day (15th July), the social media network Twitter was launched. At the start the idea was to create a way of sending short communications of the sort that you might use SMS/text for, but which could be spread more widely than just through mobile phones.

   It took a while for the design team to come up with a name. They started off by asking what a phone did when a message came in and decided that it buzzed and jittered and twitched. Although they toyed with calling their new communications tool Jitter or Twitch, those names didn’t quite seem right.

   In an interview with a New York radio station Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s co-founder, explained how they had ended up with the name we are all now so familiar with: “One of the guys who was helping us . . . took the word Twitch, and he went down the dictionary. And we all looked at the Oxford English Dictionary at the tws, and we found the word twitter. And twitter means a short inconsequential burst of information, chirps from birds. And we were like, that describes exactly what we’re doing here.”

   How far from that original vision Twitter has grown! Many tweets are still inconsequential, but many others have taken on significance. Presidents, Popes, royal families, Prime Ministers: all have used Twitter to make important announcements.

   Sadly, though, this platform has also been used to bully, abuse, slander, attack, insult and condemn. Intemperate language has caused real distress to people, often those who are already vulnerable or on the edge of life.

   Tweets can no longer be called inconsequential. They can bring real joy to others or deep pain.

   We all need space in our lives to exchange views and share ideas. Not everyone will agree with everything but disagreeing with an idea is very different from attacking a person for who they are.

   In the Christian view, every person is valued and unique. Every being is created by God and is special and loved. Every time we attack a person for who they are, we say more about our hard-heartedness and lack of love than we do about them. Every tweet – or post on Facebook, Instagram, e-mail - is a reflection of the writer. I wonder what image there is in the mirror of our own social media posts. I hope it’s a beautiful one of encouragement, compassion and kindness.


With best wishes


bottom of page