Now, I adore Twitter, which has helped me, frustrated and unheard, find a voice in these last 6 years. I’ve made some really close friends, some of whom I’ve actually met, others who can be guaranteed to scrape my mood up off the floor if I only mention that I’m a bit sad or cross or low.
In the past I was more of a prolific tweeter than I am now though 171,000 tweets in 6 years had caused me more embarrassment than pride. In my defence most of these are conversational tweets, I’d say, rather than me spouting some opinion into the ether, though there are plenty of those too.
I have been fortunate indeed to have encountered the nasty, dark side of Twitter only a handful of times and because these are incidents have been shaken me so viscerally, I have been very glad of the support of other friends when it’s happened.
I’m not a great user of Mute, Unfollow or Block. I have in the past let some people treat me in a rather too cavalier manner for too long. I am only just putting into practice my belief that I should not tolerate on Twitter anyone whom I would give a wide berth in real life. That’s not to say I agree with surrounding myself only with people who agree with me, where would be the interest in that?
Sometimes, though, there are misunderstandings, exacerbated by the 140 character format. I concluded some time ago the it is almost impossible to have a complex, nuanced debate on Twitter unless it’s with someone whom you know well, in which case you’d be unlikely to have the debate, but we’ll let that go. Things escalate so quickly and people wilfully misunderstand each other. It’s not worth the grief. This is part of the reason for me taking to my blog when I want to explain a complex thought from my point of view without someone twisting its meaning. I’m happy to have comments on my blog where I can engage with them in my own time.
I came across this TED talk by Jon Ronson today, about how someone’s life was ruined by a remark of hers being completely misinterpreted. You’ll be familiar with the story of Justine Sacco, though I wasn’t on Twitter that night, but the talk is compelling.
There are actually people out there who trawl through people’s Twitter feeds and, in their anonymity, derive some fun out of criticising and castigating others. These are trolls but, so far, I have encountered only a few of them and managed to shake them off.
I deplore the Twitter pile-ons that I see where people jump on a bandwagon without knowing or thinking about the damage they are inflicting. I wonder whether some people simply soon;t think about the impact of their tweets. What sort of people are they?
So my advice is think about the consequences of what you’re tweeting; do as you would be done by and be kind because kindness hurts no-one. It shouldn’t need saying but, sadly, it does.