My Grouse With Twitter [OPINION]

I have a love hate relationship with Twitter. Maybe love is a strong word that should be replaced with something like necessity. As a writer who needs his voice heard, it’s pretty important. It helps in allowing me gauge public opinion during significant events. It also plants the seeds to some of my writing by sparking my thought process, and when I do create those pieces of writing, is there any quicker way to get people to read than through Twitter? Besides reminding us of people’s birthdays, Facebook’s power is declining. Twitter, on the other hand, is the preferred tool to put across your fresh thoughts, but something always happens that makes me question why I’m there in the first place. This tends to be followed by me deactivating my account till I’m ready to go back.

My grouse with Twitter is largely borne out of what I interpret as the desire to show off and impress a bunch of people whom you have no personal relationship with, and probably don’t even care about as the ‘impressor’. People who know you in real life can always tell if a social media persona is contrived or the real deal; you surely can’t be trying to impress or change their opinion. My friend, Rita, who’s not on Twitter but would occasionally check out her boyfriend’s Twitter stream, told me of the shock she felt one day when she saw him tweet something along the lines of “Almost missed my flight” when he was in fact on a bus on his way to see her. I used to think such behaviour had been left behind in high school, but alas, I was wrong. Another incident that made me shake my head was a comment I received on my blog less than two years ago on a post titled ‘Social Media: The Bad’. It was as follows, “I hate Twitter because my boyfriend won’t talk to me. All he does is tweet. If we are out together and I want to know what he’s thinking, I just check his latest tweets”. May the good Lord deliver us from partners who spend all their time on Twitter.

Then we have the modern phenomenon derisively known as Twitter artistes. You know, those ‘music makers’ who spam you with links and amass a following because they have bad friends who won’t tell them to get day jobs. The internet following then gives them the confidence to make some of the most cringe worthy remarks you can imagine whilst seeking conflict with their more established colleagues in the belief that any form of attention is better than none. The sad thing is their real life persona does nothing to match the braggadocio they display in the virtual world. Then again, I guess that’s the point of an avenue like Twitter:

It’s an alternative world where people seek to reinvent themselves by creating a facade that they want to impress upon the world.

The greatest flaw with Twitter is the sense of anonymity it creates. People create accounts just to use vitriolic language upon people they’re not particularly keen on — most times celebrities. I have lost count of the number of footballers who have deactivated their accounts because of racist tweets or abuse from making errors in games. If you don’t like someone, write it in your diary and keep moving. No need to make their life a hellish experience.

People are constantly flouting laws in the bid to gain popularity and a couple of retweets. Policing social media is currently one of the biggest headaches facing the human race.There’s been the recent decision by the Attorney General in England to instigate contempt of court proceedings against Twitter users who knowingly posted pictures of child killer, Jon Venables, who had returned to civilization in 2001 under the identity protection scheme to ensure people with negative pasts are allowed to reintegrate into society. There’s also the case of Lord McAlpine, who was incorrectly linked by Twitter users to allegations of child abuse in a care home documented on a television programme. A defamation suit has been filed against Sally Bercow (One of the Twitter users) as a result of her having 57,000 followers, thus giving her a large audience whilst those with less than 500 followers have been let off provided they make a payment of £25 to the charity, Children in Need. Perhaps, that would make people more cautious. And if it doesn’t, there’s always the impractical solution of a pop up test that measures one’s IQ in combination with an internet credit check that takes note of a user’s internet history and background (checking for patterns between the person’s name and IP address with abusive comments/bad language) before they’re allowed to join social media.

Get more from Mayowa Idowu here, or at his personal blog.