The Pope's Dumb Tweet
On January 26th, 2019, something very perplexing happened: the Pope made a dumb Tweet. This was no garden variety tweet from a dude with “Welcome to the official Twitter page of His Holiness Pope Francis” in his bio. No, this was an astonishingly dumb tweet. It was remarkably idiotic. It was so dumb, and so ridiculous, and so misguided that it angrily demanded a response from Twitter befitting its world-class, historic stupidity.
The tweet, as you might already know, if you follow The Pope either on social media or because he is the spiritual leader of your religion, read “With her “yes”, Mary became the most influential woman in history. Without social networks, she became the first “influencer”: the “influencer” of God. #Panama2019.”
It’s hard to know where to begin when dissecting something like this. A good place to start might be asking why the fucking Pope, the goddamn leader of the Catholic faith, has a Twitter account. Isn’t that beneath his dignity? If we’re being brutally honest, isn’t tweeting regularly beneath most people’s dignity, even people who are real creeps?
Why is the Pope hashtagging? Is he trying to trend? Is he trying to viral? Did he hire FuckJerry to handle his social media and make his brand more appealing to Millennials and influencers? Did the fucking POPE tweet this out himself or does he have a team that Tweets on his behalf? Does The Pope control his account? If the Pope doesn’t control his account, then why would whoever does tweet on the Pope’s behalf think that they could tweet “With her “yes”, Mary became the most influential woman in history. Without social networks, she became the first “influencer”: the “influencer” of God. #Panama2019” without engendering a vast, almost society-wide wave of mockery and derision as a consequence?
The Pope’s tweet about Mary being the first Influencer even without social networks wonderfully embodies three wonderful cliches about old, unhip people trying to use youth culture and youth slang to make something that might appear boring or traditional seem sexy and fun and relevant to kids.
There’s the “Actually, Shakespeare was the first rapper” cliche, which clumsily and embarrassingly tries to spice up old-time entertainment written in old English and iambic pentameter by straining mightily to make contemporary analogies for long-ago fare. Then there’s “How do you do, fellow kids?”, the famous meme of a skateboard-toting, ancient-looking Steve Buscemi sidling up to a group of teenagers and pretending to be their peer and contemporary rather than a weird old dude who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.
“With her “yes”, Mary became the most influential woman in history. Without social networks, she became the first “influencer”: the “influencer” of God. #Panama2019” is the “How do you do, fellow kids?” trope in its purest, most embarrassing form.
Finally, the Pope’s very dumb tweet is a variation on the equally hoary, equally mocked idea of trying to make Christianity appealing and relatable to multiple generations of kids by dressing up old time religion in newfangled garb, positing Jesus as the “original hippie” to the 1960s counterculture and then as an early representation of any number of anti-authoritarian ideologies and movements. This cliche involves a teacher-type “wowing” their students by talking about a pretty mellow, pretty “groovy” rebel they might be familiar with who went by the name of Jesus.
You could argue that Jesus was really the first hippie, the first Communist, the first punk, the first revolutionary, the first Youtube Star and a whole bunch of other stupid shit but you’ll just end up boring your Sunday School class and making your students hate you even more than they do now.
Kids aren’t as dumb as they seem. They tend to know when adults are pandering to them, particularly if the adult in question is the fucking POPE. Besides, the idea that Mary, God and Jesus’ experiences have value and significance to contemporary young people because they somehow echo the lives and fame of people like Kendall Jenner or Logan Paul is insulting to Christianity on top of being an incredibly unappealing selling point to the kinds of young people the Pope wants so badly, and so desperately to connect with.
I’ll be honest: the Pope’s social media game leaves a lot to be desired. The faithful may subscribe to the notion of Papal infallibility but the Pope’s clumsy tweet nevertheless represents what theologians and religious scholars like my baby sister Dr. Shari Rabin alike would consider an “Epic Fail.”
Support independent media, get access to patron-only content and be a mensch by pledging as little as a dollar a month over at https://www.patreon.com/nathanrabinshappyplace