My friend Eric was practicing at my house today while I was outside working. I heard this, went inside, and asked him to play it again.
It was far too powerful not to share.
“…Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy unchanging love”
Here’s my heart, Oh take and seal it—
Seal it for thy courts above.
Come Thou Fount - my favorite song
As far as rabbit holes to fall into on the Internet, this one is up there.
On Thursday, I logged out of my Twitter account and had to sign back in, and was redirected to the sign-in page, which displays the image above: three men involved in some sort of informal cricket match with a noticeable building in the background.
Now, this is not the first time I’ve seen the image, but I’ve always just brushed it off as just a random photo still that the Twitter people must’ve grabbed for whatever superficial reason a picture on a sign-in page would entail.
But, I mean, if I was building a social network, or any site in particular, I don’t think the sign-in page image would really mean nothing at all. There had to be some thought to this photo.
A quick round of Google searches revealed very little. No official statement or description from Twitter, no profiles on the photo and very few comments about the photo in question.
That didn’t satisfy my curiosity at all. So I went searching for more meaning behind this photo myself. Spoiler for the rest of this, I didn’t find any answers, so consider the next few paragraphs purely speculative and definitely reaching for some connection that probably doesn’t exist.
First, some truth: this background image actually sparked a bit of a controversy a while back when Tommy Robinson — leader of the English Defence League, an ultranationalist group opposed to the building of mosques in Britain — saw the cricket photo and tweeted: “welcome to twitter homepage has a picture of a mosque. what a joke.”
The tweet sparked a lot of backlash online, and more important to the matter at hand of figuring out the meaning behind the photo, it was confirmed that the building in the background was the Grand Mosque in Muscat, Oman.
So, with the building identified, I now had to fall into a separate rabbit hole before I could get out.
A little background about the Mosque: it was built on the request of Sultan Qaboos in 1992. After six years and four months, the building was completed. It is home to the world’s second largest hand-woven carpet and chandelier in the world.
So on the assumption that this background choice actually means something, is it possible that the creators of Twitter view their social network as a gathering of large groups of people for a particular purpose — albeit without the religious undertones – that requires a period of time to be constructed into something meaningful?
Probably not, but you do realize that if I can relate a mosque to how Twitter sees itself, it’s possible to link just about anything in this world. That thought makes me feel hopeless and refreshing, all at once.
Having talked myself into solving the whole issue about the building in the background, now I had to figure out why cricket? Turns out, the sport’s history traces all the way back to the 16th century and one of the important things about cricket is you must adhere to the laws within The Spirit Of The Game. Cricket has been called a gentlemen’s game – although recent scandals have indicated otherwise – and beyond the competition, there’s an expectation for players to respect their opponents, umpires and the game itself and its traditional values.
Which I suppose is what Twitter imagines itself, or hopes to one day strive to be – please hold your laughter as I try to make Twitter sound like the gentlemen’s social network – in which the “players”, those of us who tweet, are able to navigate an online environment that adheres by laws that respects our peers, whether they be close friends, random stranger, or even the spam bots.
I had higher expectations when I wrote this that the links would make sense, but the more I fell into the rabbit, the more I realized that maybe this thread holds all the answers I was looking for: Pierre Leroux speculates that a game of street cricket represents informal shared time between people, and these people can be friends or strangers. Another user simply thinks it’s because the photograph looks good. Or maybe, it was simply a web design decision to see if different sets of colors made a difference on sign-up and login rates1.
That sounds about right, and with that, it’s time to climb out of this rabbit hole.
Thanks for reading.