Learning to Navigate the Twitter-verse
SR. BRITTANY HARRISON
If you read the title of this article as “number sign” or “pound” Digital Catechists, then we have some work to do. Allow me to lead you on a journey into the intimidating but amusing world of Twitter. As a resident of this society since 2011, I have seven years of experience tweeting both the sacred and the mundane.
What is Twitter?
Twitter is one of the most popular social media platforms, allowing users to send out brief statements (tweets) to one another that include photos, GIFs, emojis, and hashtags (#).
Wait, a Hashbrown?
A “hashtag” is also known as the number or pound sign. I once witnessed a student read a typical sports sign that stated “We’re #1” as “We’re HASHTAG 1.” I was #shocked. Hashtags are words or phrases squished together after a pound sign to categorize a tweet. It can be put within the tweet itself or at the end. I like to imagine hashtags as labels I put on file folders to categorize everything I say on Twitter. If you click on a hashtag on Twitter, it will show you all the other tweets people put under that hashtag.
Some examples of my more popular tweets with hashtags:
When educating Twitter about how long the Christmas season actually lasts, I employed some humor through a Downton Abbey photo and the hashtag “#Christmas”:
My #Christmas tweet got 13,400 impressions, 194 “likes,” 64 “retweets,” and nine comments.
Tweeting Catholic Things
Sometimes Catholic Twitter can be a bit intense for the new visitor, as people express their opinions very strongly on social media. I like to be a presence of compassion, mercy, and patience. In one tweet, I shared with my followers the importance of accepting God’s #mercy:
My followers really connected with that tweet: it got 17,000 impressions, 212 likes, 74 retweets, and 12 comments.
Share What You Love
I find that tweeting about my life as a Salesian sister and educator, as well as sharing stories and images I find amusing, allows me to build a strong Twitter following. Amidst my funny tweets, I can slip in catechesis relating to liturgical seasons, events in the Church, and the saint of the day. It’s important to have a personality on Twitter, so share what you love, in addition to your faith!
Why Do People Give me Hearts?
If someone clicks the heart underneath a tweet, they are saying they “like” it, and it will show up under their “likes” on their profile. To click the circling arrows under a tweet is to “retweet” it, or share it with your Twitter followers, thus increasing the number of people who see the tweet; the more people who retweet you, the more people who see what you have to say. Finally, comments allow you to interact with your followers, creating a space for conversation and community. I have found that comments can be a feisty place, so I try to never react sarcastically, angrily, or hastily to an unpleasant comment online. When in doubt, ignore!
Why Should I Get a Twitter Account?
If you’re looking for a form of social media that allows brief statements to connect with a wide audience, Twitter may be for you. I suggest following a few famous Catholics to start; observe their style and then create your own Twitter persona. It can be informative and fun, even if you read the start of this article as “Pound Digital Catechists”!
SISTER BRITTANY HARRISON, FMA, or “Sister B,” as she is known to young people and on Twitter (@sisterb24), is a Salesian sister of St. John Bosco and the Campus Minister and Chair of the Theology Department at Mary Help of Christians Academy in North Haledon, New Jersey. She is a regular contributor to Relevant Radio and enjoys using social media to evangelize and give people a glimpse into the lives of women religious.
Photo credit: mrwebhoney, Shutterstock