Bye, Bye, Birdie!

Image: A pretty blue bird. (Pixabay)

I just deactivated @CoffeeShopRabbi on Twitter. I’ve been an enthusiastic Twitter user since 2006, when I got an account on my son’s recommendation. I networked with rabbis there, and followed news sources I trusted there, and got the all-important California fire and earthquake info there. I advertised my classes and blog posts. People would say, “It’s a cesspool” and I would say, “Yeah, but it works for me.”

I was nervous when Elon Musk bought it, but the last straw came in a one-two punch. First, I had a conversation with my son in which he argued that there is a moral problem with giving income to billionaire bad boys, especially when they use their power and influence to spread lies. Then I heard about Musk’s tweet in which he helped to spread a vicious lie about the attack on Paul Pelosi.

I have been a great believer in social media. The thing I loved most about Twitter was that I could find someone whose point of view was different from mine, and follow them, and learn more about their lives. It was particularly helpful in expanding my understanding of people who are different from me. I found others who were doing the same thing: Christian clergy who were following me in order to learn about Judaism. We had conversations, but mostly we just quietly watched and learned.

I met some cherished students via Twitter, and I most miss the opportunity to stay in touch with them. I hope they’ll follow me here, and leave comments when the spirit moves them. Some old friends too — Cheryl in Birmingham, I’m looking at you. You’ve kept my economics education going for 34 years after I last set foot in an econ classroom, and you’ve changed my mind more than once. I will miss chatting with beloved colleagues from other movements — it’s easy to stay in touch with my Reform colleagues, but there are Conservative and Orthodox rabbis I knew only through Twitter.

I hope that Mr. Musk will grow up, but I’m not holding my breath.

Watch this space.

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Rabbi Ruth Adar is a teaching rabbi in San Leandro, CA. She has many hats: rabbi, granny, and ham radio operator K6RAV. She blogs at and teaches at Jewish Gateways in Albany, CA.

16 thoughts on “Bye, Bye, Birdie!”

  1. Dear Rabbi,

    Though I’ve never used Twitter (and thanks to you, don’t intend to do so), I think that social media instill a sense of urgency that the emails tend to restrain.
    That’s why I’d rather use an email, where argument last for a long while, are more easily developed, than take to Twitter or the likes.

    Hoping you are well, after all these years, and your insights so convenient,

    Sincerely yours,

    Jacques Hennebert

    1. I was not a Twitter user but I undoubtedly benefitted from the many voices who used the platform to fall for moral and ethical responsibility and accountability. Right before such an important election seems almost too ominous. I will miss following you on Twitter, Rabbit Adar. But lucky to have a page to follow you on. Could not agree more with the sentiments in your post.

    2. I was not a Twitter user but I undoubtedly benefitted from the many voices who used the platform to for moral and ethical responsibility and accountability. Right before such an important election seems almost too ominous. I will miss following you on Twitter, Rabbit Adar (I, too, will be deactivating my account). But lucky to have a page to follow you on. Could not agree more with the sentiments in your post.

  2. I’ve never been a Twitter user this time. Twitter’s policy of blocking anyone’s free speech was a disgrace. All can now express their ideas and concepts of current events in line with the Torah’s meaning.

    Twitter’s fixed program of eliminating the second amendment to the US Constitution is equivalent to saying, you don’t have to think; listen to our unelected moronic leaders and obey.

    1. I have more concern about the way they allow users to use the service to spread misinformation and bigotry. The newspaper today reports that Mr Musk is upset that people are making fun of him and impersonating him on the service.

  3. I’ve been on Twitter since 2011 and met many good people. Since Musk has taken over it’s difficult to find the same people. l rarely get a like now and found myself under attack from some crazy people. Guess I need to pay him to have a conversation. That’s not going to happen. Say what they want about Facebook I can have chats with people anytime from all sides of the spectrum. Good to hear from you Rabbi.

  4. Never was on Twitter, but was on Facebook, and saw abusiveness, as well as a complete lack of interest in the spread of “disinformation”, flat out lies. I am glad to hear your words here. That’s a good thing. I don’t trust social media platforms. All they are is a way for their owners to make a lot of money through advertising. All Facebook ever did was spread hysteria, but so what? Mark Zuckerberg made so much money now he’s a philanthropist.

    Right. Try greed head.

    This is not communication in any real sense.

    I’m a writer and I hate the misuse of words these platforms encourage.

      1. Greetings, Rabbi.

        I am writing a gay love story against the backdrop of the Irish conflict in the nineties.

        The plot is, a gay Irishman from Belfast falls in love with a Black Londoner. The Irishman, Martin returns to Belfast for his father’s birthday, and is arrested and beaten into a confession for a homicide. His lover, Jamie, supports him after his conviction, until the conviction is overturned. In the aftermath of Martin’s release, Jamie also is supportive although martin has PTSD.

        It’s about love and loyalty, and I tied myself in a pretzel to be sure those two had a committed and successful relationship.

        Parents, aunties, cousins and sisters are also part of this mix.

        You know it takes a village to raise a child.

        You also know, no justice, no peace.

        I’m zeroing in on the ending, when Martin tells Jamie he loves him at midnight mass on Christmas Eve, while the priest preaches a sermon about why god’s love is shown through heterosexual relationships.

        I think not.

        That’s why I’m doing this.

        I will gladly send you the MS as an attachment if you are interested.

        I surely hope you are.

  5. I was one of your followers on twitter. I left the feed on January 17 of this year. The positive effects of doing so were immediate. I slept better and my outlook on life and human beings improved dramatically. In the weeks that followed, I saw how much the feed influenced my thinking and especially how quiet I became and fearful of expressing dissenting views in our ever-charged atmosphere. I watched associates of several years became spiteful, angry and locked into negative viewpoints that left no room for discussion.

    I’m a substitute teacher this school year. Last week in a 3rd grade class one of the students directed the class to, “Raise your hand if you hate Elliot.” (Not the student’s real name). Most of the students raised their hands. We spent the next few hours writing about bullying, sharing in a talking circle and then talking with Elliot who had been taken from class by the school principal for care. When we were finished, I remembered that the prompt to raise your hand and agree with negative and often hateful statements was a regular occurrence on twitter. I realized that far from being an isolated affair, twitter’s negativity trickles out to the surrounding culture. Our children internalize and mimic much more of our shadow selves than we know.

    Blessings to you, Rabbi.

    1. Noma, that story about school is horrifying.

      Twitter wasn’t always like that, but it became noxious. Thank you for joining me here.

      What are your best ways to keep in touch with friends?

  6. I understand why you left it. I’m leaning towards that decision also. I hate not being able to follow you there & correspond. But I’ll always respect & understand your decisions.

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