The Spiritual Importance of Twitter
When something is wildly successful, as Twitter now is, I often ask myself about its higher purpose. In other words, what might be the deeper meaning of Twitter?
Although I was a Twitter naysayer at first, I’m now convinced that Twitter is part of the spiritual evolution of our species. Its growth corresponds to the accelerating spread of a global consciousness, one in which our sense of boundaries no longer end at national boundaries and we are increasingly in touch with our sense of “oneness” with others.
Twitter’s unique format contributes to our growth in a variety of ways:
1. Speed of learning: Never before have new ideas been able to propagate as rapidly. The emergence of the Twitterverse allows a new thought or idea to almost instantly be propagated through networks of like-minded people around the world, which can increasingly accelerate the learning process for our species as a whole. We become more like synapses in a global net of learning, almost instantly aware of the most important new breakthroughs.
2. Ambient intimacy: For the first time, a communication medium allows us to keep our finger on the pulse of the thoughts and feelings of thousands of people in a way that is intimate without being intrusive. The term “ambient intimacy” was coined by Leisa Reichelt, and it’s central to the success of social media platforms such as Facebook, Flickr and Digg. However, the opportunity for ambient intimacy is most advanced on Twitter because it has the shortest communication structure (140 characters) and a format that allows one to scan a large number of such feeds rapidly. The implication for our spiritual growth is profound. The more rigid and protected our personal boundaries, the more we tend to suspect others and create conflicts. As we increase our sense of personal intimacy with other places, races, and cultures, we becomes less suspicious and protective. We expand our sense of global family.
3. Increased authenticity: In order to contribute to the flow of value on Twitter and build followers, we need to keep asking ourselves what is most real in our lives at this moment? In this sense, Twitter is part of a movement towards radically increased authenticity, as the boundaries between our public and private selves dissolve. This began to happen in a pronounced way with blogging but Twitter takes it to the next level since the short format allows much more rapid, unfiltered, and uncensored moments. From a spiritual perspective, this can be seen as bringing our personal selves into full alignment with our soul, which has no secrets. Transparency makes us more truthful, which in turn brings us into greater alignment with our higher selves. Authenticity has long been at the foundation of all good therapy and Twitter offers a form of free psychotherapy by encouraging us to regularly share our inner world with others.
4. Customized attention networks: With Twitter, we are able to fine-tune exactly who we find most interesting to follow – and change that in a moment. As our own consciousness is evolving, different perspectives will prove more or less catalytic to our growth. Being able to rapidly fine-tune our inputs at every moment allows us to stay on our growth edge. Each person that we follow becomes a link to our consciousness, with their deepest ideas, inspired recommendations, and heartfelt reflections transmitting to ours. The mass media offer a much grosser approximation with “verticals” in which each of us was assumed to mainly inhabit one market or demographic. In the Twitterverse, we are tailoring our media to exactly mirror our current preferences.
5. Increased individuality – At the same time that we are creating a more blurred sense of information boundaries, Twitter also encourages us to expand our individuality. If we simply repeat what others say, we will not be particularly interesting to follow on Twitter. There is thus a strong push to individuate ourselves and get very clear about our unique offerings to the larger world. This helps to undo the tendency of most of our media to push us towards similar tastes and interests. We each, in effect, become our own miniature media network and need to discover what our unique niche is.
6. Tracking global concerns – the new search function for Twitter allows us to track the most pressing concerns for the Twitterverse as a whole instead of having those concerns interpreted through a media filter. This allows us to have a more direct feeling for the true state of our collective “mind” and thus more sensitively understand what matters most to the human family at any particular moment. This awareness is also part of propelling us beyond purely local, tribal, or cultural awareness.
7. Personal connection to our heroes and heroines - Twitter gives us a portal into the innermost thoughts of our greatest heroes and most respected heroines. It’s thus a way to take them off a pedestal and help us realize that we have the potential to live a life as bold, influential, or magical as they do. The pipeline to our heroes is also more direct and unfiltered, which helps them inspire us more regularly, without exaggerating our tendency to put people out of arm’s reach.
As Twitter continues to evolve, there will likely be many new implications for our spiritual growth. So these seven areas are really only a start of looking at the spiritual meaning of what is arising. As our learning and exchange networks become ever-more instantaneous, we participate in something like a global brain, with each of us as synapses between different learning nodes, all connected to thousands of other nodes. It is very early in the evolution of Twitter but the evolutionary importance of the service may be truly profound.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/stephendinan
And here is my SHIFT List of inspiring leaders you'll want to follow on Twitter http://bit.ly/rkfRT
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