Yep. Pope Benedict XVI is stepping into Twitter tomorrow – and his handle will be @pontifex.
Now, supposedly, he’ll be the only one tweeting, and all posts will be his words alone. (Yeah, right.) I’m not saying that won’t be the case – in the beginning at least, but I find it difficult to swallow, seeing as earlier this week I was reading how he doesn’t own a mobile phone or a computer and writes everything longhand with pen and paper. Is the Pope in intensive training right now to bring him up to speed on 2012 technology and Twitter-shorthand?
According to a spokesperson, Pope Benedict XVI will be tweeting about world events, natural disasters, etc., along with taking content from his weekly Sunday blessings.
It’s going to be tough to say anything too profound in 140 characters or less, but I’m sure it can be done… so long as the Pope can learn words like “cuz”, “b4”, and at this time of the year, “xmas” (which I’m sure he’ll get hate-tweets for using). Then again, he speaks Italian – who knows what kind of Twitter shorthand that entails. And his tweets are supposed to also be translated into several languages… how do you accomplish that in a single tweet? You can’t. And if he tweets 140 characters in Italian – who’s to say the translation into English, or Spanish, or Portugese, or German, or Polish, or Arabic, or French, or some other language isn’t going to be over the 140 character limit?
I just see this as a next-to-impossible task for what they are promoting this will be. Even if they figure out the outgoing tweets in all their various forms, what about the incoming ones? Not only can people tweet whatever they want to @pontifex, but we’ve also been told that His Holiness will also be answering tweets personally that have the hashtag of #askpontifex.
My guess is that this will be the shortest-lived idea ever. He’s the Pope for cryin’ out loud. Every person on Earth (Catholic or not) could easily come up with questions for this guy. Twitter has 500 million active users… and the Pope’s Twitter account already has well over half a million (over 622,000) followers at the time of this writing.
He’s going to need someone to sort through all of the incoming tweets to pick and choose questions to answer. He may be the only one answering – but there’s no way he’d have time to sort through the avalanche of gushing messages from his followers.
And what about the hate tweets? You know those are coming. As soon as angry atheists or angry non-Catholics learn that they can tweet #askpontifex at @pontifex, you know the Pope is going to see some of the most vile, disgusting, hateful, and evil thoughts ever to come across his corneas.
People are excited about this… for now. But once Benedict gets a hundred-thousand prank tweets, I’m sure the “only the Pope is tweeting” policy will be amended.
I give this a month.