Posted by: mobrienweiss | February 1, 2013

Is Twitter a ‘dark’ place?

twitter birdMike K. Lewis, a writer for The Week, has decided that his once passionate affair with Twitter is over.

Kaput.

Cue the angry breakup music.

In the early days of his social media bliss, Lewis wrote, ” … [M]y ability to leverage my Twitter feed to find story ideas — and to drive up page views by tweeting out links — helped me survive and thrive.”

Then, the relationship turned ugly when people started to send unkind tweets in his direction. “It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened — but at some point, Twitter became a dark place,” Lewis wrote. ” … Somewhere along the line, our optimism faded.”

“Twitter has become like high school,” Lewis continued, “where the mean kids say something hurtful to boost their self-esteem to see if others will laugh and join in. Aside from trolling for victims after some tragedy, Twitter isn’t used for reporting much anymore. But it is used for snark.”

Calling the social network a “prison,” Lewis predicted that others, tired of “meaner and coarser” dialog, will also drop Twitter like a bad boyfriend.

However his colleague at The Week, Paul Brandus, disagreed and wrote a vigorous defense of Twitter. “I’ve never met Matt, and he seems like a nice guy,” he said, “but when it comes to Twitter, he’s wrong.”

He thinks Lewis’ problem is with how Lewis chose to use Twitter rather than with the social network itself. “I’m bombarded daily with angry, insulting, condescending tweets from people questioning my manhood, patriotism and intelligence,” Brandus said. “I usually don’t respond. A thick skin is a good thing to have.”

Gently wrapping Lewis on the knuckles, Brandus added, “… [I]f your job is to tell everyone what you think, you should hardly be taken aback, see it as a burden, or a ‘prison,’ when other people who disagree with you tell you so. It goes with the territory. And that’s not Twitter’s fault.”

The Poynter Institute’s Julie Moos collected some of the responses to Lewis’ anti-Twitter musings, responses which ranged from scathing to insightful.

What do you think? Is Twitter dark and twisty or a lively destination for discussion and banter?

Image credit: The Independent.

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Responses

  1. I would say I have to disagree with Lewis, and agree with Brandus. I use Twitter on a personal level and have never had nasty or snarky comments pointed towards me. However on some level looking at what others tweet can make you have different emotions- happy because someone announced good news, laugh because someone posted something funny, or sad because perhaps you were left out of plans. Twitter is not for everyone but you can’t what people do tweet about get to you. You chose to be on Twitter for a reason so you have to accept what that comes with and that is others tweeting. If someone does tweet towards you in a rude manner you have options to block that person on Twitter, ignore it, or respond to them for everyone to see or direct message them.

    Especially if you are on Twitter to help your profession, you must respond to those rude tweets in a professional manner to prove you are above those comments. Brandus says it all: “… [I]f your job is to tell everyone what you think, you should hardly be taken aback, see it as a burden, or a ‘prison,’ when other people who disagree with you tell you so. It goes with the territory. And that’s not Twitter’s fault.”

    Twitter is not a dark place. People on Twitter may be dark, and their comments may also be dark; however, Twitter is just a platform for the “darkness”. Furthermore, there are plenty of reasons why Twitter is also a great place.

  2. I do not think that Lewis is right in this article. I don’t agree with his opinion that twitter is a “dark” place, I think your opinion is formed from the way you use Twitter.

    I think that your personal experience with Twitter is what you make of it. If you let the mean and hurtful comments get to you, then yes, Twitter can be a “dark” place. There are many people on Twitter that are trying to bring others down, but you can choose what to respond to and that is what determines your experience. Responding and being affected by negative comments will result in a negative Twitter experience.

    Using Twitter in your profession sets you up for controversy because everybody has their own opinion about what you are going to be reporting on.

    I believe that, like Brandus said, “A thick skin is a good thing to have.” Having think skin means that you do not let the little things get to you. Having thick skin allows you to continue to speak your mind but not let the negative responses bother you.

    Twitter is not a negative or dark place. There may be parts of Twitter that are not positive, but overall, Twitter is a positive way to get your opinion out to a larger group of people.


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