published Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Pope joins Twitter, develops miraculous following

  • photo
    Pope Benedict XVI waves from his popemobile as he arrives for an open-air Mass in Revolution Square, in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday March 28, 2012.
    Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

If you needed another sign that social media has changed the world, look no further than the newest addition to the Twitteratti pantheon: his holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

Yes, while firmly ensconced in the bulletproof confines of the Popemobile, the pontiff now can join millions in issuing forth holy missives in bursts of 140 characters or less.

Pope Benedict was scheduled to begin officially Tweeting on Wednesday from his official account, @Pontifex. The account was announced by the Vatican in November and went live Dec. 4.

I'm a fairly ambivalent Twitter user. I go through extended lulls of inactivity punctuated by feverish bursts when I realize my prolonged silence puts me in danger of losing my social-media cred.

Honestly, short of being a forum for complaining about miserable summer weather, sharing the music I'm listening to or pleading for help with stories, I could take it or leave it.

That's mostly because becoming a respected Twitter user is too much work. It's hard to see the appeal of gathering tons of followers when it means spending way too much time staring at my smartphone while I shout at the universe about the election or share links to pictures of cats.

Without even lifting a finger, however, the pope already is light years ahead of any following I could ever hope to develop.

As of Monday, despite being a complete n00b without a single Tweet to his name, the holy father's account had racked up more than 606,000 followers. Compare that to my work account, which has garnered fewer than 300 followers after about 700 Tweets.

It's like the pope is blessed or something.

At least I can feel vindicated that, when it comes to social media, the Holy See barely warrants a flickered eyelash. In the Twitter pond, Pope Benedict is barely a minnow compared to the following users:

• Lady Gaga (@ladygaga): 32 million followers.

• Barack Obama (@BarackObama): 24.3 million.

• Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow): 15.2 million.

• Ashton Kutcher (@Aplusk): 13.2 million.

• Snoop Dogg (@SnoopDogg): 10.3 million.

What wisdom the pope plans to impart through his account remains to be seen, but here's hoping he makes plenty of references to his #bff @Jesus (518,216 followers).

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, young adults, technology and people of interest. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German. He previously worked as the features editor for Sidelines at Middle Tennessee State University. Casey received the East Tennessee Society of Professional Journalists Award of Excellence for Reviewing/Criticism in ...

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