I Need a Decon Shower: A Week on Twitter

I set up the account, started poking around, did some following, did some unfollowing, and spent most of my time on Twitter using the Block function. I didn’t Tweet a single thing, because I don’t trust myself. There are a lot of reasons for this, but mostly because I’m having a long run of insomnia. My judgment is impaired and my defenses against bullshit are weakened. If I ended up dealing with some numbnut on Twitter, I would really screw my chances to be President. Hahahaha…cough, cough.

As a member of my own passive-aggressive anger management program, there is something so damned delightful about Blocking people. These are people who would likely never show up on my feed, who don’t follow me, who I’ve never interacted with. My sponsor tells me to take it one Tweet at a time. I’m pretty sure I’m getting a “You Could Be Worse” coin next week.

canstockphoto3368485There isn’t much to learn about human nature on Twitter, except that self-definition ofttimes has a high degree of self-delusion. I respect a person’s right to believe whatever they want, but if you want to be public about it, you may want to check your values alignment. I’ve never seen so many Christians who hate so many people. Or Constitutionalist libertarians who, by their own comments, have never actually read the document they ascribe to. Or patriots who slap a flag on everything and think their guns are more important than the rights of other citizens to, you know, be alive. It is clear that words have no real meaning on this venue.

I’m currently reading Rebecca Solnit’s Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays). I think a lot about language and how it is used these days – so often as a weapon and insult and much less to convey true meaning. Words that used to have real, concrete meanings, take on an amorphous cloud of denigration and implied values.

Once we call it by name, we can start having a real conversation about our priorities and values. Because the revolt against brutality begins with a revolt against the language that hides brutality.

Rebecca Solnit, Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays)

As a writer, I can spend hours thinking about word choices, seeking the words that best convey an emotion or character’s intent or, as in the case of blogging, my intent. I understand why many writers avoid social media. It dumbs down language. We write as we read, which is why I am constantly forcing myself to read up. Twitter is about reading down. Of making the complex seem simple. Of rendering points moot and words meaningless.

canstockphoto27625102Some would ascribe this to its limitations of characters, but the narrative distance of typing on a computer to strangers adds another facet, as well as the speed of response. Many people feel that they are not accountable for putting bullshit out into the world. For lies. For ignorance. For made-up meanings to words that already have well-established meanings. Thus far, my experience on Twitter has simply reinforced the idea that its usefulness is limited.

There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

There were people who I followed who were very funny. Levity is good. We need some of it to balance out the doom and gloom. But inevitably, their Tweets had heavy political components, which led to me Blocking a whole slew of commenting knuckleheads – people I hope to never hear from again. By the end of the week, I carefully curated my Follow list down to literary journals and fellow writers, determining that my feed will only be about literature and writing and working as a writer.

canstockphoto11497160This isn’t to say that I didn’t spend the week thinking up quippy bon mots that I could Tweet. But I have a feeling I’ll be managing my social media communications like angry letters to an ex-boyfriend – holding onto them until the morning, by which time they don’t seem as well-reasoned or worth sending. And then I’ll send nothing. I have to work on that and learn not to be terrified that I’ll send something out with a typo. Because you can’t put “Writer” in your profile and then barf out mangled Tweets. Although a curiously large amount of people do that.

I haven’t even tackled the Facebook chaos yet. I’m still trying to understand who sees what and what I’m going to get stuck with seeing. I would like to believe that eventually this aesthetically ugly platform will die out and be replaced with something better. I will have finally gotten through all the Terms of Service by then. My brief forays in Facebook remind me of the days when I would get urban legend emails about needles in theater seats and Budweiser frogs. It all seems just a bit spammy and fictionalized.

canstockphoto10130733This week, I’m committing to sending out my first Tweet, in addition to my blog posts being pushed out. I’m sure it will only take 3 or 4 days to compose and a night to sleep on it. If you choose to follow me on Twitter, you have my apologies in advance. But at least I won’t clutter your feed.

14 Comments on “I Need a Decon Shower: A Week on Twitter

    • As you can see, even with a purpose in mind (to connect with writers and promote writing), I still feel incredibly ambivalent about it. But then, it’s not second nature (subtext: I’m old) and I probably have a bit of a learning curve.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve thought that after The (new) Angry Orange stops tweeting, I might check out Twitter. I suspect, however, that many folks actually tweet, “I pooped today.” Hopefully, writers don’t do that… Good luck, Michelle. 🙂

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    • That seems more like a Facebook comment. Twitter is emoticon/hashtag-laden with many people just venting /judging/swearing in response to other Tweets. People tell me the trick is to stay out of the comments, but it’s hard not to scroll down – the adrenaline rush of rage can be quite addictive. I think you’re good waiting things out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting you should mention language, words and meaning today. I just finished an article for a magazine I’ve been doing some work for on that same topic. As for Twitter — three cheers for the ability to block. Wish we could do it in real life and block all jackasses from getting into Washington. Oh right — that’s what elections are meant for. Oops!! Works much more effectively on Twitter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The references to Orwell are not exaggerated when referencing public discourse in this country. While language evolves, the cynical political doublespeak needs to be called out, dissected, and rejected. And the media needs to slow down on its adoption of terminology that is politically motivated. For the rest of us, we just need to grab our dictionaries and call bullshit whenever we see it. I’d be interested in reading your article!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I use Twitter as a feed of nearly up to the minute information. It’s great, for example, to learn what’s going on with the transit system in my area. Otherwise, you’re quite correct that Twitter is generally a shitty stew…spotlighting the worst in us.

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    • I could see it being useful for something like that. I’m starting to think of it as a challenge – how can I make this a useful tool and not have it eat my time or impact my morale? From a social perspective, I’m always surprised how willingly people out themselves as hateful or ignorant.

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