On the drive home I convinced myself it was time to close my Twitter account. Then Tom’s Diner came on the radio.
I am waiting
At the counter
For the man
To pour the coffee
And he fills it
I even argue
He is looking
Out the window
Sometimes when I’m on Twitter I feel like the person waiting for the cup of coffee. I feel like a person who is watching other people who are waiting for each other and there I am, standing by. And I know – from experience – that if I take part in some of those conversations between those people I can get in trouble.
I don’t mean to butt in unwanted. After all (I figure) if they are conversing on Twitter it’s an open conversation, isn’t it? Especially if one of the people re-tweeted something the other person said as if to say, “Hey, look what my friend just said. Isn’t it interesting?”
But it turns out I’m wrong about some of those conversations. They don’t want new voices. Or at least they don’t want new voices that aren’t in agreement with the current speakers. Perhaps you’ve seen it too. You try to add a different take on things and get shut down.
It’s happened to me, and more often than not I can’t see what I said that was so wrong. But there must be something because there are times when I’ve not only been told I am out of line but I am also quite clearly given to understand that my subsequent attempts to straighten things out are merely mucking it up even worse.
Yesterday I had one of those exchanges that got worse. It got bad enough that I convinced myself Twitter is not worth my time.
But then Suzanne Vega came on the radio and sang about dealing with the people at the diner and getting only a half-full cup of coffee.
“It is always
Nice to see you”
Says the man
Behind the counter
To the woman
Who has come in
She is shaking
And I look
The other way
As they are kissing
Not to see them
I pour the milk
So she looks the other way,
and pretends not to see,
and occupies herself with the milk.
There’s wisdom in those words.
There is wisdom in knowing I don’t have to take part in those conversations that appear to be inviting me along. (My friend said something clever in our Twitter exchange, see?) I can look the other way, pretend not to see, occupy myself with something else.
Twitter Does Have A Purpose
You might wonder what purpose Twitter really has. Vega covers that as well, even though she wrote this song long before the advent of Twitter.
Twitter’s not bad for news:
Up the paper
There’s a story
Of an actor
Sometimes it’s merely a light diversion:
And I’m turning
To the horoscope
For the funnies
(I don’t read the horoscope, but I do read the funnies daily. Don’t judge me. And don’t judge Suzanne Vega.)
But what I really want out of Twitter is people.
Oh, this rain
It will continue
Through the morning
As I’m listening
To the bells
Of the cathedral
I am thinking
Of your voice…
And of the midnight picnic
Once upon a time
Before the rain began…
There’s the key to Twitter’s purpose as far as I’m concerned. I want it to remind me of people, to make me remember that the people on Twitter are real people, and that I should do what God says is important: care about the people he’s put in my life.
Even if those people are on Twitter,
or are bloggers,
or are commenting on blogs.
Because the purpose of this blog, more than any other, is to come alongside people the way that God has come alongside me.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4.)
The word “comfort” in that passage has the sense of “coming alongside”, and whenever I read that passage I can’t help but read it:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all coming-alongside-ness, who comes alongside us in all our troubles, so that we can come alongside those in any trouble with the coming-alongside-ness we ourselves receive from God.
So I hope to follow Suzanne Vega’s lead on Twitter. That means avoiding conversations where I’d only be in the way. And it means remembering people. I’ll try to follow Paul’s advice, too: come alongside people with the same coming alongside that I’ve received from God.
Say hello if you see me on Twitter.
Let me know how I’m doing with this.
And come alongside me.
If you pay attention to the two male dancers in Suzanne Vega’s music video for Tom’s Diner you’ll see the slickest moves ever to come out of an 80s aerobics class. I ought to know. I took aerobics classes back in the 80s.