Much as I am a total Twitter convert, to paint a portrait of life in the Twit-stream as being one long LOL-fest would do a disservice to anyone you may be trying to coerce into signing-up, and will ultimately only bring you grief…or pleasure; it depends how you roll, you weird, sadistic bastard, you.
It’s extremely easy to get caught up in your own self-made bubble of fun and stupidity (or is that just me?), as one of the beauties of Twitter is that you can pick-and-choose whose guff you wish to clutter up your timeline with, and if they get too tedious, or even offensive, then an unfollow is a pretty easy thing to do unnoticed. That is unless you’re one of those Twitter tosspots that likes to announce their unfollows to the person concerned, whilst informing them what a great disappointment they are or how they’ve sold-out/aren’t funny/haven’t decided to follow you back, and how dare they! As I said, tosspots. Unfollow, say nothing, move on. Simple pimple.
Lately, a lot of Twitter veterans have been bemoaning the propensity for outrage amongst the Twitter folk over issues that often don’t warrant the hysteria. As is the culture, a term has been generated to refer to this phenomenon that combines the word Twitter with a standard word; this particular act has been dubbed “twitchforking”, carried out by “twitchfork mobs” no less.
With the advent of Google+, many of these long-term and more well-known Twitter users seem to be championing it as a safe-haven from Twitter’s bad eggs; variations of these “bad egg” types are outlined in Grace Dent’s recent publication “How To Leave Twitter: My Time as Queen of the Universe (And Why This Must Stop)”, incidentally a very funny read (you should buy it) and partially the impetus for this post.
Recently, the unseemly side of Twitter reared its ugly head again, prompted by a run of tragic events occurring in the news: the “News International” phone hacking scandal, the Norway massacre, the death of singer Amy Winehouse. When the most recent of these occurred, the death of Amy Winehouse, it promptly devolved into some kind of horrific tragedy-based “Top Trumps” discussion, with users tweeting their disdain at other users for mourning one woe over another. As the columnist Deborah Orr tweeted,
“No need for hierarchies. All part of the not-so-happy end of the human condition”
Noticeably, many of these otherwise profuse tweeters have started to go quiet when events such as these earlier unfold on online, whether they are silently observing in the background or merely avoiding Twitter for a period of time to let the dust settle and the tedious rage to subside is unclear, but either action is understandable; being even passingly famous will attract the foaming-at-the-mouth mentals.
It’s one of the downsides of life online: the unnecessary & vicious bile that internet anonymity bestows on small-minded people; I’ve seen it all over the place, as I’m sure any of you reading this will have too. Like anyone, I get irritated by the nonsense some people spout, find the mere sight of some so-called celebrities’ faces fill me with dread and revulsion and I’m not above bitching about this with some friends, however I do draw the line at directly sending them abuse on Twitter.
It’s one thing to state the name of the person you can’t stand in a tweet so that people know who you’re talking about, but it’s quite another to include their Twitter name in the abusive message, especially if it’s of the “@BettyBigBoobs iz a fat, talentless bithc! GET THE FUCK OFF MY TV ALLREADY!!” kind (spelling errors intentional to highlight the dimwitted calibre of the tweeter, obviously). If the situation was reversed how do you think you would feel if people relentlessly sent you abuse?
Generally speaking, this kind of grief is reserved for and directed at famous people, however one does occasionally and unintentionally rattle the cage of some insane fan. One minute you’ll be casually passing judgement on their favourite celebrity’s latest project, when said fan bursts out of the Twitter woodwork attacking you for daring to hold an opinion contrary to theirs. I’ve seen these kinds of rabid fans dubbed “Stans” (also as a verb: “@rabidBieberFan: I’m stanning hard for Justin’s latest single“) which apparently stems from the obsessive fan in Eminem’s song “Stan“. However, I’m old school and much prefer the classic “batshit crazy”. In these kinds of situations the block button is your friend.
Of course, in extreme situations you could always protect your tweets, but I find this an undesirable feature which only serves to hinder the Twitter conversation. I’m highly unlikely to follow someone if they protect their account as I feel it’s being overly precious about your tweets, which are probably fairly uninteresting anyway. Protecting tweets, and therefore requiring new followers to proffer a request to follow, formalises a situation which is otherwise very casual. How am I meant know if I want to follow you if all I can see is some gormless photo of you drunk/looking like a ponce in your bathroom/a random inanimate object which really has no bearing on you?
The vast majority of Twitter users are lovely people, or at the very least pretty civilised. I’ve become acquainted with plenty of delightful people through it and Twitter has brought me many genuine laugh-out-loud moments that you just don’t get with other social networking sites. For the moment at least, I’m still very much stanning hard for Twitter.