In a much talked-about The Week article titled Why I Hate Twitter, Matt K. Lewis explains why the Twitter he once loved has turned into a “dark place”. He calls himself a once “evangelist” of Twitter, detailing his successes on the micro-blogging site to back up his claim. He also cites four main reasons for his conversion:
- Everyone’s problems are on Twitter
- It has become a prison. Since he’s a journalist, he can’t not be on Twitter
- Twitter has become like high school. It’s used for trolling instead of reporting
- What once was more appropriately said in private has now become public fanfare on Twitter
As expected, commenters had tons of advice for Lewis. From the title to the hopeless tone, the article was a recipe for dissenting opinion. Lewis raises some valid points. And if you read closely, you’ll see that he’s also presenting solutions to the problems. He says that since he can’t stay away from Twitter for business reasons, he has to “become creative”. Lewis advises that we create Twitter lists and get a locked Twitter feed for friends. For him, the answer to the Twitter problem is changing how people use it.
It seems presumptuous to give this guy advice – he’s been on Twitter when most mainstream journalists weren’t. However, I don’t necessarily agree that disengaging with people on Twitter to “preserve his sanity” is necessary. I think Twitter is a tool and people are going to use it in whichever way they want, just like they could use Facebook to stalk old flames or video streaming to watch porn. You don’t isolate yourself from the real world or your TV set. Whatever you see on Twitter is merely a reflection of what’s beyond our online worlds. Is it annoying? Definitely. Does it justify trolling and unabashed disclosure of our private lives? No. Can we educate people about using the tool in more positive ways? Yes!
A change of perspective
I agree with Lewis that changing how people use Twitter is the solution. But being on Twitter doesn’t necessarily have to lead to Twitter rage, if there really is such a thing. We need to recognize Twitter for what it is. There are many simple ways you can use this platform responsibly, which the social media pundits out there have tons of advice for.
- Follow the right people. Get rid of the spammers and trolls.
- Recognize that even the best people you follow can also post potentially irritating content. Brush off what is unimportant. So what if other people are trolling on Twitter? If you’re so affected by it, do something constructive about it (ignoring it may be constructive for you).
- Focus on the benefits of Twitter. I follow people and brands to get real-time updates, which has proven helpful for me to keep track of significant events and inspiring ideas.
- Start more relevant discussions. For instance, RingCentral has “Cloud Chat Tuesday” on their Twitter page to generate interesting discussions on topics related to their product. You don’t have to be a business entity to do this. The idea is to raise the standards of Twitter conversations yourself.
- If you still can’t stomach Twitter, then close your account. You’ll live.
To rid yourself of Twitter hate, you have to change your perspective. Social media is about people. And if you want a perfect social media world, then you’d have to have perfect people. And that is just not possible in this world.