In March 2019 I will arrive at my 10thanniversary on Twitter and if I were a betting man I’d wager that I won’t be on this platform to see my 11thanniversary.
I initially joined Twitter for the politics/news and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Although it is quite normal now to see journalists live tweeting events before the story is posted or before they even go on the air, in the early days of Twitter it was quite novel to see this and I loved the fact that we could all get news in real time and see how the stories evolved as the live tweet session progressed.
Through Twitter I discovered a multitude of regular folks who weren’t in the journalism or political professions but generated superb content and my knowledge of the world, and especially economics and politics, increased greatly. It was so different from other social media and it was more ‘cerebral’ where folks brought their A-game and backed up their hot takes with real data. Facebook was great for catching up with high school classmates, looking at cute cat videos and reading funny cartoons but Twitter was the place I went to actually learn something.
I routinely interacted with folks of all political stripes and while the arguments were heated, I at least had a feeling that (for the most part) we were getting something constructive in the back-and-forth that could help each side see where the other was coming from.
But lately I feel that Twitter is actually becoming part of the problem instead of the solution with regard to the Political Divide in the U.S.
It now seems that Political Twitter has split into two very factions that are frequently getting further and further apart and while we may say that this is just a reflection of how the U.S. is moving, I think Twitter poured gas on this fire and is actually preventing it from being extinguished. Hell, even areas of Twitter that used to be a political free zone are now starting to be infected with the Outrage Virus (Sports, Astronomy, Economics, Diet/Paleo, etc.).
Political Twitter is now an Outrage Machine where we compete to see how each side can ‘own’ the other in hopes of scoring Likes and Retweets. We have popular sites like Twitchythat are totally devoted to cataloging the current outrageous tweets and showing how one political side owns, smack downs or humiliates the other. People get outraged by tweets to the point where they report them to Twitter in the hopes that the person gets banned or suspended. Words written on a computer and posted on social media are now akin to violence or hate.
We can’t look to Twitter to police this Outrage Mob and I don’t want them to since it will be left up to humans to decide ultimately what is outrageous and what isn’t/ So it’s really up to us and while I can’t control the collective “us”, I can control one member of that group – me. I believe that this Outrage Mob will stop if we all stop engaging in it. There will always be differences in opinion, folks acting in a partisan manner, always critical of everyone NOT on their side, etc. but we don’t have to jump into the mud pit and engage in pointless twitter fights that have no hope of bringing about constructive discourse.
I’m not going to be on that hamster wheel anymore.
Starting in January I’m refraining from joining the outrage mob and will stick primarily to other areas of Twitter that are still valuable sources of intellectual growth and just pure enjoyment – Astronomy, Economics, Sports, Diet/Paleo, etc. True, I’ll still see the Outrage Virus in these non-political areas (and yes, Economics is very close to politics so that is inevitable) but I can use self-control to resist the urge to jump in the fray. I don’t have time or the desire to remain in constant outrage mode when I log onto Twitter but here lately, it’s mostly what I see on here.
So here is my New Year’s resolution for 2019 – For the entire month of January I will resist the urge to join the Twitter Outrage Mob. No piling on, owning or smacking down because I see a ridiculous tweet I don’t agree with. I’ll try it for a month and see how it goes but I fully expect to maintain this as long as I stay on Social Media (or get kicked off because something I say offends someone to the point where they convince Twitter to kick me out).
I’ll still tweet on news/politics when I see a news item that interests me and follow folks on Twitter that regularly tweet on political topics but I won’t be engaging in the Outrage Mob.
Have fun storming the castle without me in January!