Humor by Greg Schwem

Pope Benedict XVI recently sent his first tweet. On an iPad.

Before this monumental event, the leader of the Catholic Church had been interacting with his followers via speeches, written by hand and sometimes composed entirely in Latin. But apparently the Information Superhighway now goes directly through the Vatican, as evidenced by a video that showed Benedict seated at a table and tapping out his message while a few other religious higher-ups stood by and nodded in approval.

I couldn't help but note that all appeared to be about the same age as the pope. Certainly these men had not taught Benedict the nuances of tweeting and downloading. No, that task fell to 24-year-old Father Kyle, the youngest, hippest priest in Rome and the only one with a tattoo. The following is an excerpt from Benedict's introductory lesson:

"This is an iPad, Your Holiness. It's password protected, so you need to create a password. Something that's easy for you to remember."


"Unfortunately, Holy Father, it has to be at least six characters."

"Lord Almighty."

"And it also needs a number."


"OK: LordAlmighty1. Can you remember that? I suggest you write it down somewhere. Now you're on your home screen."

"What is Netflix?"

"That's not important, Your Holiness. Well, actually, it is kind of cool. Let's say you want to watch 'The Ten Commandments.' Ever seen it? Awesome flick! With Netflix, you can watch it whenever. Isn't that chill? No more late fees! No more disappointment when you pull up to the Redbox and it's not there!"

"What is 'Angry Birds'?"

"Don't touch that. You have a blessing in two hours and trust me, if you start playing 'Angry Birds,' you will never make it. Cardinal Luke, am I right?"

"Absolutely, Father Kyle!"

"Your Holiness, let me explain Twitter. In simple terms, Twitter is a social network and microblogging service that lets you follow public streams of information."

"I am confused, Father Kyle."

"I can't make it any simpler than that, PB."

"Can I spread the Word of the Lord?"

"You can. In 140 characters or less."

"That does not seem like a lot. Did you attend my last Mass? It lasted at least 45 minutes."

"Well, God created the world in seven days, so really it's all relative. Go ahead and launch the virtual keyboard. Turn the iPad sideways. That's good. Now you see your Twitter feed. Just type what you want to say in the box."

"'Dear Brothers and Sisters. . .'"

"OK, can I stop you there? You're already at 25 characters. Let's shorten it. First, remove the 'Dear.' Now make it 'Brths' and 'Strs.'"

"Don't forget hashtags."

"I was getting to that, Cardinal Matthew. Your Holiness, if you include hashtags, your tweet may become a trending topic. And it will make it easier for people to find you."

"Find me? I'm at the Vatican. I've always been at the Vatican. I'm the only one clothed entirely in white. I carry a cross. Who in the world is having trouble locating me?"

"All I'm saying is that we typed 'Pope' into the Twitter search engine and you weren't even in the top five. But once you start tweeting, you'll be above New York Times reporter Tara Parker-Pope. And The Pope Family."

"I don't think I like this Twitter stuff."

"Give it a chance, Your Holiness. Imagine tweeting your Easter message. Go ahead. Try it."

"OK. 'He is risen, he is not here. Life and death were locked in combat and Life was victorious forever. All is again orientated to Eternal Life!'"

"That's good...but it won't fit if you include 'Brths and Strs.' Let's make that your second tweet. If we put hashtags before 'Eternal' and 'Life' and the 'at' sign prior to 'death,' you've still got characters left. Anything else you would like to add?

"I do not know. Any suggestions?"

"How about 'OMG'?"

Greg Schwem is a stand-up comedian and author of Text Me If You're Breathing: Observations, Frustrations and Life Lessons From a Low-Tech Dad.

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