Thursday, 23 February 2017

My Life on Twitter and Other Issues

To borrow some words tweeted by former President Barack Obama from his former Twitter handle (@BarackObama) right after leaving office and thus his official @POTUS account: "Hi everybody! Is this thing still on?"

Former President Barack Obama's tweet just after he left office

I've been away for over a year, mostly because of some life-changing events that have kept me busy, but also because I hadn't felt that familiar nudge to blog; that insistent urge to publish a new post until now. 2016 was a tumultuous year, what with all the political upheavals of Brexit and President Trump and the numerous celebrity deaths. There has been a lot going on and a lot to become involved with on social media.

Now, I left Facebook seven years ago because I hated the boastful, preening, fakeness-inducing pressure of it all, where we're all tempted to perform pictorially for an audience of friends and strangers, where we are corralled into presenting the best of our lives for the acknowledgment and amusement of others, and where we are constrained into having certain opinions about certain things.

Amen
Facebook inspired 'Like' envy in me, made me desire people's comments and approval as if these things were important, and inspired a dissatisfaction about my life which would creep into my otherwise happy little existence because I saw other people's achievements. Vanity, covetousness and gossip were for me the fruits of all that wasted time spent looking through the lives of people I hadn't spoken to in years or barely spoke to ever at all, and I was loathe to imagine that people I barely knew were similarly rifling through my profile.

Twitter

Instagram was even worse: a domain for the vain (unless you were marketing your business perhaps). But I found my place on Twitter. It's focus on words expressed in a pithy and poignant way and thanks to the hashtag, broadcast-able to literally the whole world was exactly where an opinionated wordsmith like myself could luxuriate. Only your succinctly expressed thoughts mattered, not your photos, achievements or how much fun you were having. Twitter was more impersonal and for me safer. You didn't have to be popular and your utterings were not restricted to just your family and friends. Twitter to me was a more real, no holds-barred opportunity to engage with people precisely on the issues I felt most strongly about, and I didn't feel I had to perform.

I feel at home on Twitter

I was on Twitter incognito for years, mostly only retweeting and favouriting what I liked. Now I know that was because I didn't feel free enough to express all I had in me with people I actually knew as followers. But I was kept informed, amused and enlightened on Twitter and liked going through people's thoughts about breaking news and their reaction to certain TV programmes or movies to see if it matched mine. It was fun to share cultural highlights with the Twittersphere.

A few months ago I opened another account with an alias and didn't follow or have as followers people that knew me, and it was then that I felt free and truly able to speak without constraint. Not that I was saying anything vile or outlandish or contrary to who I was in the real world, only that I wanted the full gamut of my thoughts to flow without worrying about what so and so would think about the passion or the bent of my words. I could wax lyrical about politics or a celebrity without any blow-back.

But although Twitter was more suited to my social media needs, it was also an unfriendly place for a truth-believing Christian, traditionalist, anti-feminist, conservative-libertarian, non-PC woman like myself. Curiously, I found out (and suspected it to be the case beforehand) that being a black woman shielded me from much of the venom reserved for non-liberals on social media, so I always featured an avatar of my picture from afar or from behind so though you couldn't recognise me you could still tell I was black. This also gave me the power to criticise 'black' issues without being dismissed as a white racist.

Donald Trump

I noticed that the hot-button issues of politics, race and religion tended to interest me the most. Donald Trump's tumultuous presidency has been a subject I've spent a lot of time engaging with, and of course, with the man himself using Twitter daily, I have been endlessly fascinated with people's reactions to the tweets of this most unpresidential of Presidents.

It takes one to know one


At the beginning I enjoyed Trump's antiestablishmentarianism, but became increasingly horrified at the mean, uncouth, unrefined, shallow and egotistical unsophistication of the boastful billionaire. I was aghast when he won, and I'm often blindsided at his conduct thus far. I can barely watch him on TV, he's so noxious. I mostly support the party he (claims to) stand for, and I'm OK with Hillary Clinton not being President, but Trump as President is every bit as awful as I imagined. He's not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination (God forgive me for my brazen judgement if he is...) and it's sad that of all the Republicans that could have done a great job, (VP Mike Pence seems an upstanding fellow, a decent gentleman by all accounts) the world is stuck with a blowhard showoff that seems to be getting senile in his old age, what with his unending desire for praise, blatant lies, know-nothing-say-nothing speeches, obsession with size and self-aggrandisement, and his pitiful, poisonous rhetoric against the media.

I used to like his daughter Ivanka too. I praised her in an unrelated post I wrote long before I knew that one day her father would be the horror-in-chief, and although I still admire her gracefulness, sharp intellect and seemingly upstanding young family, I can't reconcile her approval of Trump and his ways with her obvious good sense, even if he is her father. I suppose that in her position I too could never throw my parent under the bus for the approval of people that hate him. Even if I do not like many of his ways, family loyalty has to be paramount. I think if I were in her shoes I would exile myself away from being part of his inner circle and cite some pressing need keeping me away, kinda like what his wife Melania seems to have done.

So Twitter provides me with endless updates on Trump and what people think of him. I follow both right-wing and left-wing commentators and it's interesting to hear both sides. I mostly side with liberals when it comes to Trump, but not when it comes to other weighty matters to do with women, religion and LGBT issues. It means I don't fit into a neat little box of your average Christian or conservative or Black person or woman. Plus my views are fluid and changeable.

Black Lives Matter

For instance, I was against Black Lives Matter as a movement for a long time because I felt that black Americans were not sufficiently respectful to the police and if they just obeyed instructions and weren't so hostile they won't be killed. But then some weeks ago I watched a movie by Ava DuVernay called 13th, about the systematic destruction of African-American communities by the state (from the Presidency to the judiciary) first with slavery then Jim Crow laws then the prison system. I mean, of course I knew of much of these things before, but the way it was presented in the movie got me to acknowledge the fact that if you know that your people continue to be targeted for suffering by all the establishments in your country, you'd be angry at the police too and feel aggrieved by their negative attentions, no matter how trivial.

This film really opened my eyes to the way America is set up to criminalise Blacks

I follow many African-American activists and non-activists on Twitter. I find them sharp-witted, blisteringly acute and hard-hitting in a way many white people shackled by political correctness are not, and many of the themes of family and culture they comment on are delightfully familiar to me. Black Twitter can be rip-roaringly hilarious, with clever memes and hashtags that often poke fun at mainstream culture, but they can also be quite iconoclastic and mean-spirited towards white people in a way that would be scandalous if the tables were turned. I also follow many Nigerians who keep me abreast of happenings in Nigeria.

Feminism

I'm also anti-feminist, I wrote much about it here. I believe white women have sold the idea that women must compete with men and usurp their God-given position, especially as the head of  the home, and black women have bought into it to our detriment leading to broken homes, many unmarried black women and single mothers. Black men are more likely to prefer traditional gender roles, yet most young black women are stridently independent and feminist-minded, leading to a disconnect that damages our communities.

Women still face harmful sexism, but many feminists are trying to make amends the wrong way by being intolerant and degrading of men. Feminism has also caused harm to Christian women who bristle at the injunction in the Bible for wives to submit to their husbands. Women that can successfully navigate their issues of self-worth, desire for love and obedience to scripture find true peace in their marriage. Women who demand equality in every way and deny their husbands headship do so at their peril.

Of course most people on Twitter are feminists, sympathetic to feminist ideals or reticent about their non-feminist thoughts. And although I wince at feminist views and follow some anti-feminists, this issue doesn't get me as engaged as others.

Islam

Islam; it's clash with western civilisations, the way uninformed non-Muslims view the religion and Muslim converts are matters that interest me greatly, often despite myself.

As a former Muslim familiar with the ideologies and intentions of Islam (I wrote about it here), and with the benefit of a spiritual awareness of Islam's foundations and goals, I don't buy the liberal line that Islam is a religion of peace, and although I'm not in total support of President Trump's banning of certain Muslims from coming to America, I agree that western nations need to protect themselves from the killings that have occurred on their shores in the name of Allah. I also agree that those who are able should take on refugees wherever they may come from, and refugees fleeing to America are very strictly vetted, but all Muslims brought up outside of the west (yes all) have a healthy disgust, distrust and disregard for Westerners, which makes one wonder why they do all they can to move to a country whose values they abhor.

LGBT

Then comes the hottest issue presently in our culture and one I find myself most drawn to. When it comes to the subject of the Bible, homosexuality and God, I don't toe the liberal line of "only love matters; whether it be between two men, two women or a man and a woman, God is pleased when Christians are in a healthy, monogamous, loving, long-term relationship with whoever they choose to love." I think that that way of thinking is not only sacrilegious and an abomination of all that is right and holy, but a gross misunderstanding of God. Love is not all that matters; sacrifice, obedience, justice and repentance is also a huge part of our walk with Christ. Not everything that we are is acceptable to God, and some of our temptations and natural urges are to be overcome with the help of the holy spirit.

Homosexuality is now a gift from God? Woe indeed.

God didn't make anyone gay, but a combination of upbringing, early sexual abuse, unchecked temptations and being led astray by others forms in some people the desire for same sex relationships, and then the enemy uses the opportunity to take root and bear the fruit of homosexuality in their lives, just as some people are prone to other harmful addictive behaviours. The wrong thing to do is to make your sin your identity instead of turning it over to God to heal you. If He doesn't take it away (Paul in the Bible had a lifetime struggle with an affliction God didn't take away), then you carry your cross daily and follow Jesus, striving for the goal ahead. A person who steals doesn't throw his hands up and say "Well I can't seem to stop stealing; I must have been born a thief. Let me get together with other thieves and revel in our propensities and force the church to recognise our thieving as our identity because God made us this way and condemn Christians who don't allow us to steal regularly as backwards and unloving."

No gay gene has been found; if it were then it should be possible for autopsies to reveal that the dead person was homosexual because of certain biological markers, just like it is possible to tell the age and gender of the deceased.

A gay Christian is not an oxymoron, there are proud, wife-beating, lying, fraudulent Christians too. But when your sexuality, or any aspect of your life that you insist on holding onto, separates you from the church, then that thing has become an idol. You're supposed to deny yourself and follow Christ. Churches that celebrate homosexuality are putting such 'identities' above God, which is an example of 'the pride of life' that ensnares.

As for transgenderism (I wrote about it in relation to Bruce Jenner here), I'm of the opinion that the root cause of gender dysmorphia is myriad and once that is identified and treated, most will desist from desiring to become the other sex, as indeed often happens with therapy. It's a disorder that should be treated rather than encouraged with surgery. God didn't make mistakes assigning sexes, but our minds can mess with us. I think it's the greatest scandal, a shocking turn of affairs, for men to surgically 'change' themselves into women and vice versa. One's sex should be as fixed as one's race, even more so in fact because it is completely biological. Of course the glaring truth is that despite surgery, a man will always be a man and a woman will always be a woman.

I despair at the way society has allowed these things to happen and how some Christians think it's OK to support it. It is not kindness to support someone in ruining their souls for eternity when we have the truth that will set them free. The trump card many put up is that gay or transgender kids will resort to suicide if they are not supported in their sin. But people kill themselves because of depression, rejection and other issues both weighty and trivial, and this in itself is not a reason to allow their errors to go unchecked.

Jesus was kind to the Prostitute but told her to "go and sin no more," and though he ate with Zacchaeus the chief tax collector, his unabashed holiness spurred Zacchaeus on to renounce his fraudulent ways. (Luke 19:1-10). Although Jesus didn't publicly condemn every sinner, he didn't help them to continue in their sin either.

Twitter Debates

My non-PC take on these issues have of course attracted interest and anger. I've had lengthy debates with atheists and gays and transgendered people, some have been civil but most have resulted in insults, all aimed at me from the other person. I make a point to always be polite and never fight fire with fire. I state my case firmly but never with any anger, hate or condescension. But it can be smarting when people hurl abuse at me, I once did a double-take at an insult: I couldn't believe it was aimed at me! But I have a pretty thick skin, I know it's not personal because they don't know me, and I actually feel sorry for the particularly mean ones as I wonder what kind of life they lead or how dark and pitiful their hearts and minds must be to come out with such bile.

I don't have many followers, but I'm not on Twitter to be popular. I'm there to speak the truth boldly and show others that there are still educated people who hold to God's word in this liberal age, and that one can disagree without being disagreeable. The Christians on Twitter with a large following are often the ones that tweet scripture and other niceties; they stay in their lane and don't get involved with tough issues. Others are virulently anti-liberal and their followers are equally engaged in a heated war or words with the other side.

Bold Christianity

It's tough for Christians to live out their faith online where our stance is mostly out of favour with modernity (truth is timeless and not subject to fads.) Everyone wants to be liked, but if we really understand our faith and want to stay true to it and engage online at the same time, we need to have the courage of our convictions and be ready to be criticised and insulted. It's not for everyone, but I feel called to do it and have the tools of my words, a deep knowledge of God's truth and the holy spirit to help me.



Pastors like Voddie Baucham have also encouraged my faith and further furnished me with wisdom from scripture, especially on the contentious issue of homosexuality. Right-wing social commentators on Twitter like Piers Morgan and Katie Hopkins are also inspiring in their ability to state their case regardless of the backlash. I'd prefer they were less combative and incendiary sometimes, but I admire their chutzpah in our 'don't offend anyone' culture.

I would love my words to have an impact on people's lives and turn them to God, like Paul's letters does in the Bible. I always pray that I touch someone's heart or make someone think differently about things, as has happened to me many times on Twitter.

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