I love Twitter.
In fact, I have access to five twitter accounts (I only have three currently active) between my personal account, the be.you.ty project, the Rock Square (a young adult contemporary service I attend), my fiancé’s band (300 Strong), and technically, the restaurant I no longer work for.
In having so many accounts, I’ve come to follow some interesting people and the one’s I’d like to cover for a minute are what the trendy kids call “ANON” accounts.
Specifically, CHRISTIAN ANON accounts.
Can I explore a topic with you guys that I hope does not come off as offensive but probably will? Please bear with me, as I have a hard time talking softly and gently sometimes (I really do swear that I’m working on it).
First, I’ll explain what an anon account is: An “anon” account is one that’s run anonymously. Get it? They’re clever or something similar to that.
I follow many of these because they share lovely quotes and things that I enjoy. And forgive me, because I’m totally about to lump them all into one and slap a label on it, knowing that they’re not all doing things but just listen – there are a lot of Christian anon accounts run by high school age teenagers that I believe may or may not be actually causing harm to the growth of the Kingdom of God.
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12
I have a feeling the above scripture may get used to tell me why this post is wrong, but I want to tell you off the bat that it’s the whole reason I’m writing it.
Please understand that I’m not trying to look down on anyone. At 24, I’m barely 6 years older than some of these kids. This is all based in stuff I have learned the hard way – through the experience – and passing down advice to you that I once received. (I’ve never run an anon account but I do run quite a few that don’t bear my name).
My first observance with Christian anonymous accounts run by teenagers: They aren’t all that anonymous. These kids “snapchat” pictures of themselves, reference their friends, and answer questions about themselves in games like “Get to know your Anon.” They talk a LOT about their obsessions with places they want to go, famous people, and school. They complain about homework, finals, etc. They tweet about their teachers by name. They talk poorly of people (celebrities, “anonymous” people at school, ect). They ask their followers if they should go to winter formal. The list goes on and on. If you’re running an anonymous account where more than half of the people know where you live and got to school and what you look like, I truly believe that your account is hardly anonymous.
My second observance with Christian anonymous accounts run by high school students: This one rides on the coattails of the first – when they post like the above to their Christian anon account, their account isn’t actually dedicated to God (like the profiles and twitter handles would indicate). It’s devoted to themselves and their personal life. I’m not perfect and battle my fair share of idols, but in that I have realized a lot of where I idolize myself and my problems and others, as well as things, and in my experience, some of these accounts seriously idolize themselves, a future husband or wife they don’t yet know, and their problems. “Snapchat”-ing pictures of themselves and asking for “10 likes on this tweet and I’ll post a picture of myself!” (yes, I’ve really read numerous tweets like that) is not God glorifying. Not everything I tweet is always about the Lord, or even remotely important to anyone, however, I refuse to post things that beg for likes and follows.
Side note: as a young person, they are called to be an example of faith. Tweeting obsessively about meeting a husband (especially with a picture of a half dressed Ryan Gosling) I really begin to question about these youngsters what they’re trying to convey about faith and purity…? On that note…
My third observance with Christian anonymous accounts run by teens: They flirt with each other. I know one in every two couples meet online these days, but c’mon people. I’ll be the first to admit that I post sappy things about my fiancé, but something about when its teens and it’s anonymous; it annoys me and seems so highly inappropriate. Again, referencing the scripture above, they want to be an example as a young person and therefore are called to be an example in purity. Flirting happens, and I’m really okay with that, but the words that get used and they way they plug each other’s Twitter accounts while flirting like, “Follow this really cute girl – @[insert cliché Christian Twitter handle here]” or “this really amazing guy [insert 3 smiley faces with hearts for eyes] [insert kissy face smiley] @[insert another cliché Christian twitter handle but more masculine here] great #follow” just does not strike me as weird. Or my least favorite: when they do the #MCM or #WCW (Man Crush Monday or Women Crush Wednesday for each other). But hey- that could just be personal preference for me. I don’t know.
My fourth (and the biggest and I swear, final) observance Christian anonymous accounts by high school teenagers: They’re anonymous. That might seem like a contradiction to the first point I made, but it’s not. They can do what they want, say what they want, and tweet what they want, all with the protection of anonymity. There is never any real responsibility with it. Where in the Bible is that advocated? It isn’t. Nothing the disciples and apostles of Jesus, or even Jesus Himself ever did was anonymous. Anonymity to me is something we take when we don’t want to be judged, we don’t want to be held accountable, we don’t want any consequences for our actions, or suffer any shame. Tell me who in the Bible ever operated that way and honored God? Running a ministry that doesn’t share your name and having an anon account are two totally different things, I’ll distinguish that; I mean the people who are claiming the life but claiming it anonymously. Why not claim it and own it at the same time?
I suspect followers. An anon account will yield more followers easier. People just like your theme rather than actually having to like what you’re tweeting about and they follow you. Other anons will follow you and that’s how you find your fulfillment: in how many followers you have.
Kids, listen – you are worth more than the followers of your anon account on Twitter. Stop chasing followers and start chasing Jesus. If you want to use social networking as a ministry avenue, GREAT! Now start tweeting about God and not yourself.
I could list out scriptures for each of these things, but so could most people. They’re all “Hallmark” scriptures that most people know. I know there’s probably more than one person saying “they’re just teens” and “teens will be teens” and honestly, that’s wonderful. Because the real point I want to make is this:
This all sounds like a regular average teenager to me. Any secular kid in high school could be running some of these accounts. What really separates them from the world? In some cases, nothing but their handle name.
The point of Christianity that I really feel like is getting missed here is that as a publically professing Christian, you are a reflection of Christ in this world. What are you doing to show the World Wide Web who Christ really is when you use a Christian anon account in these ways? When people that aren’t of the faith see young Christians who claim to follow this miraculous God acting exactly the same as a teenager who doesn’t, what miracles do you think they’ll believe He’s capable of? So many of us claim this change, security, and healing in the Name of Jesus, and yet, we don’t act like we’ve received it. I can’t imagine there’s much greater of a turn off to Christianity for a non-believer than that.
Please take some time to evaluate, search the Word of God, and determine what God would have you do next. I’m not trying to discourage you from having an anonymous account in high school necessarily, and I’m sorry for lumping you guys all into a big group, but I would love to see these accounts used well and for the glory of God so that His Kingdom may grow, that the Creator may reach more or His creation, and furthermore, see more young people stepping out in their faith to glorify God in a generation that needs more of it.
Know that the Lord loves you beyond anything you can comprehend; more than 140 characters can express, more than the stars in the sky can number. You are loved.
Do you have any advice for young social networkers trying to represent God to a broken world? Please share in the comments below!