Question: Is spamming okay if you are spamming for Jesus?
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed I had a new person following me on Twitter. Her username was daretobelieve08. Her picture depicted her as a normal looking black woman. There wasn’t really anything suggestive or inappropriate about her name or appearance. (There are occasionally spam users on Twitter — they go around following tons and tons of other users in an attempt to get attention to their own Twitter feed, which of course has some picture of a scantily clad woman and is of course full of links to their shady business.) Because of the normalness of this name and picture, I decided to look at her recent comments, and they were rather regular, innocuous types of things. If I remember right, she said she was watching a movie with her family, taking her kids somewhere, thanking God for her blessed life despite having a bad day, stuff like that. Some of them had an inspirational Christian type of message. It was all very normal. As far as I could tell there were no links of any kind in her updates. There was nothing to indicate in any way that she was a spammer or had some nefarious motive, other than the fact that she was following over 700 different Twitter accounts. Was she a spammer? If so, she was taking her time to make a commercial connection. Was her motive an attempt to spread the Good Word through Twitter? To let her light so shine? If not, and she was just a regular new user, which most appearances said that she was, I thought it was curious that she had added so many people. Was it possible that, being new to Twitter, she was just ignorant of etiquette and thought that it would be normal or fun to start following a lot of random people and see what they said? I can relate to this because sometimes I myself am ignorant, as a lot of people are; other times I’m not ignorant of etiquette, I just don’t like it and choose not to follow it. When I first encountered blogging several years ago I mistakenly thought it was okay to find all sorts of random blogs of strangers and start following them and commenting on them. If they published it on the Internet they must want everyone to read it, right? Turns out I was wrong. Oh well.
No matter what her motive was for following me and 700 other people, it didn’t really bother me. I didn’t start following her, but I didn’t block her from following me, either. I totally forgot about her until today, when I was looking through my Twitter account and again saw her listed as one of my followers. I clicked on her account to see what she was twittering about these days and if she had turned out to be a spammer or a weirdo or missionary or something, and what I encountered was this. (You really should click on the word “this” in the last sentence; there’s a cute picture of an owl.)
I don’t know whether she turned to the dark side and revealed her twisted spamming motive in the week or two since I first looked at her account, or if she was simply suspended for following so many people: Twitter won’t let me read her updates now. But it brought me to the question I posed at the beginning of this writing. What if she really was “spamming” people on Twitter in an attempt to witness for Christ or inspire hope and faith? Is that a problem? Is this really any different than what many missionaries do in public, and what I did as a missionary for two years? Is knocking on someone’s door or having a conversation with a random person in the street “spamming?” I know as missionaries we certainly made some people as mad as people get when they get spam, just by standing on their doorstep, or by walking down the street or shopping in the grocery store, or by just existing. On the other hand, some people changed their lives for the better in part because of our spamming, which in my mind makes it more than worth it.
Too often these days I am so afraid to bother people that I don’t say or do things that I really should be saying and doing. I am afraid I will do something the wrong way, or at the wrong time. I am afraid people will think that I have the wrong motives. Sometimes I am afraid that I do have the wrong motives. I get overwhelmed and frustrated and I give up or put it off. I think to myself that if it hasn’t been said or done yet it’s always still a possibility, but once it’s been tried, if it’s tried in the wrong way, that’s the end. Account suspended for unusual activity. But I realize that this is the wrong way to think. Some people will take things negatively no matter what you do or how hard you try to do it in a good way. On the other hand, no good can really come from doing nothing. I am speaking of things both temporal and spiritual here.
Conclusion: Basically what I am saying is that spamming is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you are spamming for Jesus. I should probably start doing that.