A few lessons I (may) have learned about Twitter

I am still pretty new to Twitter. In terms of time management tips, I still advise limiting how much time you spend on any social media site, avoiding angry back-and-forth arguments, especially since they might be with ‘bots (who are almost as hard to persuade as our fellow human beings), and following what I call curators, insightful people whose information you trust.

However, I recently began using Twitter as a place to connect to other writers, which, by the way, has also been a pleasant part of blogging on WordPress. So I have changed my approach to following, preferring to follow people who follow me, as long as they aren’t scary in some way.

At the same time, something else happened. I discovered Lists.

Lists allow me to sort people on Twitter into groups and view just the posts for that group. For example, I have one list of people I know personally so I can now be sure to see their posts.

I have also created a group of curators. Here’s something else worth knowing about Lists: I don’t have to follow the person to place them on the List. So I have un-followed most of the curators who don’t really need me as one of their thousands or millions of followers. Since curators appropriately get upset about all the terrible events in the world, I can now choose to view this list when I feel ready.

I can also save my follows for people who might benefit from the follow.  For some of the people I’m following now, it helps us not feel quite so alone as we work on writing and experiment with an online presence. By limiting my followers to people I know, a few select curators, and fellow writers, my first view on Twitter is now more positive and relatable than it was when I mostly followed the curators.

I even created a list for agents, who I don’t want to follow because it might seem pushy to show up as a follower. (For the record, I only follow Laura Zats of Print Run because she deserves a blue checkmark. There ya go, Laura. I’m sure this will do the trick :).)

Stay tuned. As I spend more time on Twitter, I may find more reasons to regret it or strategies to value it. Do you have any tricks that make it a better space for you?

time limit on twitter

Your Tweets Are Not Enough

I made a resolution this year to be more active on Twitter, and so far I have managed to lose a lot of time on Twitter without gathering my courage to post anything. More often than not, a terrible event occurs (As-Seen-On-Twitter), and I get caught in a vortex of outrage and helplessness, peering at what looks like Apocalypse Now.

I struggle to identify the right response. Clicking “like” seems inappropriate, especially if an outrage relates to experiences that I sympathize with but may not bear the brunt of, which makes me feel, fairly, like Part of the Problem rather than the Supporting Caring Random Stranger that I hope to be if I click “like” on your Tweet.

I have set a goal to let the professionals handle the Right Response On Twitter. On the other hand, I worry that if I am not posting how I totally AGREE or DISAGREE on some issue, I am not being the ally that I need to be for people confronted with systemic oppression. I take some comfort in the fact that my number of followers is, um, petite, so the odds are good no one is waiting for me to do the right thing as a Twitter influencer.

Yesterday I read what I considered an appropriately outraged tweet telling me: “Your tweets are not enough” in the face of another horror. Since I still haven’t figured out what would be an appropriate tweet, I feel like a double failure, though I remind myself that I have taken actions IRL to stand up for those who are oppressed and to comfort those who are in pain.

It occurs to me that my feelings of guilt and inadequacy are appropriate. Dabbling on social media as a means of sharing thoughts and ideas is not a politically neutral activity. It is an exercise of privilege to engage in any activity without explicitly addressing matters of injustice. It is an exercise of privilege to enjoy a moment of quiet or humor or irony. Add to that the challenge that social media postings rarely reveal the unpolished layers of actual lives.

Here’s what I think for now: I will continue to engage in my own muted and unpredictable ways. In the face of outrages spotlighted on Twitter, I will aim to amplify the voices of those who might not be heard enough as well as those who have read and researched enough to compose appropriate responses. But writing about this topic here has helped me see what I hadn’t acknowledged before: the discomfort must exist. It should not be easy to decide what to say and when. It always matters, even the clicking of a like button. Or the not-clicking. The lurking or the speaking out.

My tweets are not enough. I don’t even have the right to know what actions would be *enough* in order to fight against systems of power that consistently and disproportionately harm our fellow human beings based on, for example, race, LGBTQ+, sex, religion, ability, class… So no, tweets are not enough because this is a battle for human dignity and the promise of democracy.