Twitter: The Party EVERYONE Was Invited To

August 22, 2013

This should be interesting. I’m not entirely sure I really want to tackle this topic of understanding Twitter but… I feel sort of compelled. One of the people who prompted a previous post regarding Childfree By Choice is now also inspiring this post. You see, what that guy said on twitter was slightly offensive but, for the most part, he was nice and fairly polite about it and even apologized. Unlike other Childfree folks I’ve encountered who are just… mean. As Twitter offenses go, it barely ruffled my feathers.

But part of his apology was predicated upon his claim that he doesn’t understand Twitter.

If I had a nickle for every time I’ve heard someone say (or seen it written), “I just don’t get Twitter” then I would have my family paid for built already.

So let me explain it to all far and wide. [I say that with only a touch of snark, I really do aim to educate]

Twitter is like a huge party.

Most people congregate in their own little area with people they know or with people they know to have similar views or interests and interesting topics of conversation. [In my case Infertility] Every now and again one or more of your group might overhear something being discussed by the group next to you [Childfree, Infant Loss, Women’s Rights, Health Care] and maybe you just eavesdrop or maybe you jump in and participate for awhile before returning to your group.

Every now and again you may wander off to the restroom [news] or to get a drink [celebrity “news”] or a snack [whatever topic is trending at the moment] and happen upon someone talking about something that interests you so you stop and chat or just listen for awhile [what happened on last night’s episode of ___________].

And every so often someone in the middle of the room does something so wild and crazy that the whole party stops and stares and then discusses what just happened. In real life these things are people like Lindsay Lohan or Charlie Sheen or events like the Sandy Hook shooting or the Boston Marathon bombings or any major political news/event.

And sometimes people arrive, say something witty [Bronx Zoo Cobra] or just walk around muttering to themselves [spam] and then leave [people who don’t “get” Twitter or those who are blocked/suspended]. Or they get drunk and start shouting nonsense at everyone [Amanda Bynes].

Just like in real life, conversations can be difficult to follow. The music is too loud [too many people responding], or someone is speaking too softly [private account you don’t follow] or something distracts you [OMG a famous person had a baby], etc [a Kardashian did something marginally interesting]. And sometimes you have to repeat yourself. And sometimes, while you are repeating yourself at full volume, the music stops and everyone hears you yelling about that one time at band camp. [Cue humiliation and/or unwanted attention/attacks]

As far as I’m concerned none of this excuses being rude. Just because someone with a different viewpoint might be listening in doesn’t give you the right to claim that what you said is not offensive to your own crowd so it’s therefore OK to say. Would you claim that if you said something racist? Is it OK to say something racist to other racists? I imagine they would say yes. But I think the rest of us might have a different opinion.

This particular person used a flow diagram to demonstrate his point of how difficult it is to follow a twitter conversation. I challenge that diagram. It’s not about the individual conversations but the people themselves. I wish I had had the time to make my own diagram but these should suffice. They are social network diagrams and they are used to represent social circles that exist both in real life as well as online. Yes, it can be complex. But it need not be difficult to understand – especially when viewed through my party analogy. [*pat myself on the back*]

source source source

With that said, is it possible then to make the rounds at this party expressing your views and never clash with anyone? No, I don’t think so. Not if you are truly expressing yourself. But there are polite ways to agree to disagree. It’s true that 140 characters makes it all the more difficult. But I prefer to think of it as a challenge to be succinct rather than a limitation. Use your grown up words.


3 Responses to “Twitter: The Party EVERYONE Was Invited To”

  1. KMoody Says:

    I missed this post yesterday. What a great analogy!!

  2. KeAnne Says:

    I like thinking about it as “a challenge to be succinct.” Spot on. I’m curious about the man who inspired the posts; isn’t saying you don’t get Twitter so 2010 or something? I inadvertently butted up against one of my other communities earlier in the week and needed to apologize b/c I just wasn’t thinking. Like you said, that sort of thing will happen, but you have to prepared to be adult about it. Side note: how was I not subscribed to your blog? Weird.

  3. […] implies that someone can also be “bad at” Twitter. Which I think is very true. I wrote a post about people who “don’t get” Twitter trying to explain it to them. So if some people are bad at it I suppose it is possible that I’m “good at” it. […]

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