Tearing Twitter Down is Easy

— 5 minute read

Natasha Lomas' article, Twitter is Dying, really brought home how much quicker it is to tear something down than the years it took to build:

The simple truth is that building something valuable — whether that’s knowledge, experience or a network worth participating in — is really, really hard. But tearing it all down is piss easy.

It's been frustrating to watch as Twitter gets gutted, each wave of people leaving as they hit whatever their breaking point is with the latest stupid, ugly, or harmful thing Musk has done in the 5 months since he bought Twitter. So much undone in so short a time.

Thus ends the usual link plus brief bit of commentary I normally use this blog for. What follows is a personal reflection on experiences using the lens of what's happened at Twitter to help process and make sense of things in a very different personal situation. Context is likely missing for many readers who go further.

Jumping From Twitter to a Personal Reflection permalink

On a personal level, it's hard hear about the abusive leadership at Twitter, and then watch the church community I, along with my family, have been a part of for 30+ years be ripped apart by harmful actions by a leadership intent on tearing everything apart that's been built. They've even mirrored Musk's actions at Twitter in oddly similar ways - like how staff were treated with disrespect and suspicion, and people were fired or laid off.

Paraphrasing the quote from Lomas' article to my own experiences:

The simple truth is that building a church community filled with trust, integrity, authenticity, and love — is really, really hard. But tearing it all down is piss easy.

I noticed this moment while reading minutes from a meeting which said:

In closing, Gil felt the need to encourage everyone to watch their words when they are in conversations with others about the church, specifically that they don’t go towards gossip.

On the face of it, it seems like a good thing: don't gossip. Especially in a church community.

But "feeling the need" to remind people not to gossip hasn't been something that leadership at FGCC has felt the need to do until this past year. It's only been this past year where they've effectively told a community to "get on the bus or get out", without ever saying where they are actually going - that leadership has "felt the need" to remind the community not to gossip.

It seems like the FGCC leadership believes that:

  • people talking with each other
  • someone talking to former staff and asking why they actually left
  • seeking answers to how and why things are happening in the absence of clarity from leadership
  • generally just trying to make sense of it all

...are all gossiping.

And when presented with the opportunity to confront actual gossip at a recent meeting, it took someone getting up and asking leaders to speak truth against the gossip for anyone in leadership to actually say something.

Thoughts on How To Deal with Gossip in a Community permalink

I'm not a community expert. I only have experience being in a few. But my hunch is that at some point you need to talk openly and honestly about the things you think are gossip with the entire community.

Leaders could allow the community to submit questions with clear parameters on what will and won't be discussed, that hurtful messages will be discarded, submit anonymously or with a name required if you prefer, and then answer. It doesn't matter if it's in a meeting, writing blog posts, a newsletter, an Instagram Live, a podcast, YouTube Live stream (with $180,000 worth of gear to do it) - just answer the questions. There are so many tools at your disposal to engage community with in 2023.

And after you've done that, if the community says that they're still confused, listen to the questions they have, and continue to talk and seek clarity of understanding. Engage curiousity. Don't hide behind confidentiality or "you wouldn't understand" / "it's complicated" statements. If you desire clarity with the community, go so far as to ask the people involved if they're comfortable speaking or writing about what happened to them and why.

Trying to engage people's questions one on one only breeds more miscommunication and distrust. One person is told one thing by leadership, someone else gets slightly different wording - and of course people talk about what they've heard, and the level of trust in leadership takes another hit.

Tremendous healing can come - and I'd suggest only can come - by bringing things out of the darkness and into the light. Particularly in a faith community.

Instead, it's felt like leadership has dug in, put up defensive walls, and locked themselves in an echo chamber - don't talk to anyone outside this council! - and left the community to feel the need to gossip in the absence of clarity.

The simple truth is that building a church community filled with trust, integrity, authenticity, and love — is really, really hard. But tearing it all down is piss easy.

Posted 2023-03-30. Want to reach out to continue the conversation? You can reach me at chris.enns@gmail.com.