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Thou Shalt Twitter

Thou Shalt Twitter

Moses could have saved himself a lot of tzuris if he'd have been able to lead the Jews via Twitter.

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To keep my coolness quotient high, I, like millions of others, have mindlessly followed the latest commandment issued by the High Eminences of Social Networking: Thou Shalt Twitter!

For the not-yet-initiated, Twitter is a free online social networking tool. The point of it is to attract other Twittering "followers," and if you're lucky, fame in your chosen field. In only my first few weeks, I had miraculously captured 100 followers, including someone whose purpose on Twitter is to send salvos of food facts approximately every three minutes. Thanks to her, I now know that today is National Hot Pastrami Day, making my life that much more complete.

I have mindlessly followed the latest Social Networking Commandment: Thou Shalt Twitter!

Aggressive Twitters who madly start following everyone they can find can recruit 2,000 or more followers in short order. But very famous people, such as John Cleese, can effortlessly gain stratospheric numbers of followers. When I last checked, the British comic actor had 26,451 of them.

Twitter may end up being another short-lived social networking craze, but I like it. Its brilliance is that each "tweet," as posted messages are called, can be no more than 140 character spaces in total. Not only is this much more time-efficient than blogging, but for the ardent wordsmith, thinking up succinct, 140-character messages is an ongoing and exciting challenge. (Yes, this is an admission that my life is dull.) As a word purist, I am sad to report that most people on Twitter use those hideous texting abbreviations 2 make rm for 4 msgs, but I refuse, on the principal that somebody ought to be left in Western Civilization to defend correct spelling. It's an increasingly lonely job, much like the Maytag repairman or the Tupperware saleslady, but I vow to carry on the fight, even down to the last, fully spelled syllable.

I also like Twitter because I can blow off steam in bite-sized snippets. For example, after an unpleasant encounter with a whole wheat vegan type, I wrote, "I wish that people who give up all white flour and sugar would keep it to themselves." This still left me 67 character spaces to go, but I had said my piece. (It also earned me several huzzahs from like-minded followers.) Venting at media ineptitude can require more space: "Snickering that a Reuters reporter pronounced Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni as "Tipsy" Livni. Tipsy, like their reporting." But even this left me one entire character space to spare. Memo to all Twitterers: you really can post messages without mangling the English language through cyber-chat abbreviations. You just need to be pithy. Like me.

But imagine how much you could say if you tweeted in Hebrew? Hebrew is such an economical language: you don't even need vowels! This got me to thinking what a shame it was that Moses wasn't able to use Twitter when he was recruiting his own followers. You can't help but feel for Moses, a prophet and leader greater than the Jews had ever seen before. For a man who had just rescued a nation from cruel Egyptian bondage, he still had to listen to them kvetching that the desert was too hot, too cold, and too sandy. Not only that, based on their desert guide books, they were still at least 5,000 kilometers from a decent Chinese restaurant.

But if Moses had been able to lead the Jews remotely, via Twitter (sent by BlackBerry), he could have been spared some of these complaints. He also could have stayed up on Mount Sinai a lot longer, keeping tabs on those rambunctious members of the tribe, soothing nerves whenever required. This might have prevented the Jews from panicking when Moses appeared to be late descending from the mountain and making that very unfortunate golden calf. Even the ever-patient and unflappable Moses lost his Mosaic cool when he saw what his followers had done, and who could blame him? In his frustration, he broke those newly minted stone tablets into smithereens, which led to his having to shlep up the mountain again, to retrieve The Ten Commandments: The Sequel.

Yes, I am certain that Moses would have had an easier time of it if he had just used Twitter to send real-time updates from Mount Sinai to the Jewish people. This way, everyone below would have known he was safe, preventing a lot of mischief. They could even have received sneak peeks at the commandments as Moses was busily writing them down and other pertinent messages:

First commandment coming soon: "I am God." (You knew that anyway, guys.)

This one's a little harder: Don't take God's name in vain, even during close championship playoff games. I know you can do it!

First the bad news: you have to work six days a week. The good news: You get Shabbat on the 7th day. No work at all!

Weather update: Major thunder and lightening tonight, with scattered fire and shofar blasts from heaven. Stay calm. Everything's under control.

As you can see, our great leader Moses could have saved himself a lot of tzuris if he'd have been able to lead the Jews via Twitter from an undisclosed, secure location – namely, up in a cloud next to God. And no doubt he'd have gathered oodles more followers even than John Cleese.

But why shouldn't we pick up from where Moses left off? We can use Twitter not only to spout off our own opinions; we can broadcast Jewish wisdom every day:

Loving your fellow as yourself isn't just a good idea: it's the law!

If people had not been coveting other people's things for so long, we wouldn't need a bailout now.

I say let's try it. Not only might we gain more followers, but Moses would surely be proud.

Published: January 24, 2009


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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) Joni Lautman, June 29, 2010 3:10 PM

I really enjoyed this twitter piece. I would love to see the rest of the commandments listed so I can enjoy your point of view.

(6) Stu, February 15, 2009 11:59 AM

Okay George, I'll twy a twitter one time. I hope this twits. Stu

(5) Annee, February 6, 2009 7:20 PM

Glad I'm not the only one

who refuses to abbreviate. I receive text messages from youngsters (too young in my mind to have a mobile phone), and oldies (that should know better than to decimate language for the sake of a few pence). I refuse to abbreviate, and it surely is educational in finding the right words to be succinct - why - one may even have to resort to a dictionary (shock - horror). Those who abbreviate are at a distinct disadvantage in Scrabble games. :) I while I am on the subject of language, when are the Americans going to bite the bullet and put the 'U' back into words. It can be rightly said that spoken English started to become adulterated (can I say that?)when people forgot how to spell. think I should join Twitter and Twitter On about these injustices to language and to Scrabble.

(4) Roland, January 31, 2009 2:07 AM

Heh heh you are funny, Judy. Keep coming up with articles like this and you will make us smile in spite of all the turmoil around us...even Moses in heaven will be chuckling when he reads this. G_D bless and keep you, Judy.

(3) Judy, January 27, 2009 4:54 PM

ponder the opportunity...

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