Twitter has a mixed reputation at the moment. It’s a loud, shouty place. The opinions expressed are increasingly extreme and even the mildest utterance contains something that offends someone. Its lingua franca is hyperbole. And it’s exhausting. No surprise that it’s led to some people to withdraw from the network.
I know some people have stepped away entirely and others have eased off. For me, the antidote has been to go deeper. I’ve rediscovered Twitter. Good Twitter. Useful Twitter. Here’s what works for me.
Getting back to community
Communities of interest are the backbone of the internet and Twitter’s chock full of them.
Poetry Twitter is full of amazing creative minds expressing ideas and emotions in ways you’d never thought possible. They’re warm, they’re friendly and it’s amazing to watch so many of them move from sharing poems, to having submissions published and some even having collections commissioned.
History Twitter is full of experts having fascinating conversations and sharing their deep expertise. It’s like having an accurate, self-curating version of Wikipedia. I’ve purchased books following their recommendations, I’ve learnt a ton just sitting back and following their conversations.
Lastly, how could I not mention PR Twitter. It doesn’t always agree, but it’s a pretty civilised bunch. I’ve made friends, had laughs and learnt so much.
Ignore the bellowing
Twitter isn’t the real world. For that matter, neither are current affairs TV shows or newspaper columns. It’s mostly just a small subset of the country manufacturing clicks and comments to inch out a little more publicity or one more commission. It might feel like everyone’s arguing but they’re really not. Most people aren’t even engaged. It’s a handful of loud mouths. You need to keep that perspective. So every time there’s a flare up, I ignore it. If it pops into my feed, I let it pass through. Don’t get sucked in.
Being civil and kind
Everyone has a different view of what’s acceptable, but I think most would agree that name calling is childish at best and wholly unacceptable. As a rule, whether it’s a politician I vehemently disagree with or a company I’m frustrated with, if I must engage I do so politely. You’re not going to make online discourse better if you’re part of the problem.
Recognising my expertise is limited
I’m curious by nature. I like to learn new things. Understand ideas. And generally pick liberally from a range of topics. I try to approach every topic with a novice’s mindset.
For example, I’d bet that I’ve read more Indian poetry than the vast majority of people in the UK, but when I talk to experts on Twitter, who obviously know so much more than me, I recognise that I’m a novice compared to them and am happy to be so. I’m learning.
Even in areas in which I’m an expert, like digital marketing, there are people who have deeper experience in certain areas and different approaches. I learn so much by reading what they think and asking how they came to that view. It’s an endless source of CPD.
Most of this boils down to getting back to learning and sharing, which is why I joined Twitter in the first place. I’m glad to say I’ve managed to get back to that.