Opinion: Why is the Pope not following anyone (on Twitter)?

Pope Benedict


by Jake Wallis Simmons

So the Pope has finally tweeted. In fact, in a wry move possibly inspired by the doctrine of the Trinity, he has a sevenfold presence on Twitter, each in a different language.

Unsurprisingly, the pontiff has rather a lot of followers. Twitter followers, I mean. His English Twitter account alone has, at the time of writing, a cool 757,992. Not bad for three tweets (or 21, if you count the duplicates). But there is one area in which the Pope is holding back. Currently, he is following just seven different Twitter accounts. And, you guessed it, they are all himself.

There are those who might be cynical about the notion of only following oneself. From someone like Jeremy Clarkson, for instance, you might expect it (though Clarkson actually follows 80). But in truth, if anybody can get away with it, the Pope can. He is, after all, the mouthpiece of God, so in a way he is following Him. By contrast, the Dalai Lama – who as a Buddhist does not harbour a belief in a creator deity – has almost 7 million Twitter followers, but has chosen to follow nobody at all.

I’m not a religious man, but this reticence to follow one’s own flock seems rather odd. Doesn’t it demonstrate that you’re a bit #outoftouch? After all, the unofficial Mufti of Twitter, Stephen Fry, follows more than 50,000 people. Admittedly his collection of followers is almost ten times that number. But at least he’s showing willing.

So, dear Pope and Dalai Lama, if you’re reading this, take my advice and follow some people. Why not? You’ve already taken the step of joining Twitter, you might as well go the whole hog.

If I haven’t yet persuaded you, consider consider the autocoprophagous Will Self (@wself). He has nearly 30,000 followers, yet follows not a single soul. Do you really want to put yourself in such company? A cautionary tale if ever I’ve heard one.

Leave a reply

Your e-mail address will not be published.

One comment

  1. Mouth is zipped on this one! Don't wanna get crucified by the gazillion Catholics out there!

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail