April 18, 2014

Putting Twitter in Time Out

Y'all, I gotta put my mama pants on for a second. In other words: we need to talk.

I had a personal Twitter account long before I started blogging, but I didn't create an account for my blog until a few months after I started writing in this little corner of the world. I had no idea what I was missing out on! Becoming active on Twitter had a huge impact on the growth of my blog. The more I interacted with people, the more blogs I found to read. And the more blogs I visited, the more I put myself out there and started building relationships with people.

Needless to say, I fell in love with Twitter because it helped me talk with fun, bookish people around the world. It was so addicting! I wasn't tweeting a ton, but I was constantly joining in on awesome conversations. But I've noticed that I don't get on as much lately. And when I do, I'm not as excited about scrolling through my feed. Mostly, I just respond to mentions.

So, what's changed? Honestly, I've been really discouraged lately whenever I get on. I'm an adult with a husband and a job... and I thought that I'd left high school behavior behind. I'm sure this has been going on for ages, but it's only lately that I feel like I'm seeing it happen so often:

Vague tweets criticizing or complaining about 
other bloggers without actually identifying them.

Y'all, it's driving me crazy. You know why? It absolutely sucks when you think that you either recognize yourself or one of your friends in a tweet like that. It's so hurtful and frustrating because what can you say or do in response? The worst part is the fact that it's vague so everyone starts responding asking what happened. Whether the person responds publicly or moves it to DMs, the conversation still started in full view of everyone.

Listen, sometimes people say or do things that irritates others. The natural inclination is then to vent about it. I get it. I promise that I do. But I work with social media everyday for my job, and I'm constantly amazed by the things that people put online. Is a vague tweet about someone a huge deal in the grand scheme of things or that bad in comparison to some of the other stuff I've seen? No way. But it's still hurtful.

Here's the thing I always find a little baffling about public complaints or grievances: they're often talking about people often who follow them on Twitter and sometimes even people that they follow back. Being vague may keep someone else's name out of it, but it doesn't take away the sting of hurt. And chances are that the person who is the subject of the tweet is going to see it at some point.

We call it a book blogging community, which (to me) implies that there's a relational aspect. It's not just a group of people with shared interests. Or, at least, I'd like to think that it's more than the disconnectedness that simply the word "group" implies. So, why do I feel like my stomach is in knots when I sign in? I don't have the energy or desire to surround myself with drama, and I want blogging and social media to be FUN.

Rather than secretly be sad about it, I figured I should just lay it out there. I'm tired of seeing bloggers use social media to complain or talk about other bloggers. To me, it's not the right forum for it. Someone makes you mad? Totally fine. Feel free to talk and complain about it all you want. But think about doing it privately instead.

Here are questions that I think are worth asking before posting something on social media:

1. Does this need to be said?
2. Does this add value?
3. Would I say this face-to-face?
4. What's my motivation for saying it?
5. Could saying this have any consequences?

Listen, I don't mind vague tweets for the most part, but I do when they are about people. There's a person behind the computer. A living, breathing person with feelings, whether or not you like them. I'm not calling for a revolution or anything - just a little consideration. I want Twitter to be a place that's welcoming, inviting, and enjoyable. Sure, there will always be spam and random crazies... but I want the lame side of Twitter to be limited to trolls and not to the bloggers that I've chosen to follow.

I'm not your mama, and I can't tell anyone how to tweet. But I can throw my two cents in, and tell you where I'm at right now. Tweeting about other people is rude, even if their name is never mentioned. They may have been rude first, but my mama always told me: you can't control other people but you can control how you react. I'm not perfect, and I certainly don't get it right all the time. But that doesn't mean I'm going to stop trying to be respectful, think about others and be thoughtful in everything that I say and do.

My personal rule of thumb:
If I wouldn't say it to your face, I won't say it online at all.

31 comments:

  1. Amen, sister! Luckily I haven't encountered this too much, but I definitely have seen it and it leaves a really bad impression. "There's a person behind the computer. A living, breathing person with feelings, whether or not you like them." ::nods head:: It's incredible how easy it is for people to forget that one simple fact.

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    1. Yes, it's so easy to forget! I feel like I see it in phases. I'll have weeks where everything is happy and then just randomly see a lot of it within a few days. Agree on it not leaving a good impression :/

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  2. I hear ya. I have a few rules I go by: get political and I unfollow you. No hard feelings. Just don't want it.
    Be negative and I hide you. (I use Plume it allows you to hide people you like but don't want in your stream).
    Act nasty and I unfollow you.

    I like my Twitter feed to be happy. Plain and simple. So yah I totally hear you.

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    1. Oh I like those rules so much! I've definitely unfollowed people before. I hate it sometimes but it's better if I keep Twitter fun and drama free. And I'm totally looking into this hiding business!

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  3. Oh my god.

    I just typed out a great comment and stupid google account ate it.

    Anyways. Here is the gist:
    Solid post. I had a horrific, traumatic experience with twitter and someone saying very mean things definitely about me. Not a blogger though. I am glad I don't engage in this behavior anymore. I used to, but then I matured/grew up. Side bar: You should read City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn - historical fiction! romance! adventure! characters! It's so good.

    The end.

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    1. Ughhhh I hate when Google/Blogger eats it! It's the worst.

      Oh I'm so sorry that you had such a bad experience :( I can't imagine! But yay for growing up and being able to step away.

      Also: totally added it to my TBR! Thanks for the rec!

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  4. Where do I even begin to comment on this post? I love everything about this. I think people believe that because they themselves hide behind their computer screen that their words do not hurt people. False. I also believe those same internet trolls refuse to believe a person is behind the other computer screen and, like you said, has real feelings. You know that I've been the subject of those vague tweets and I know you have too and in the eloquent words of myself, those people are all assholes and Karma will be the absolute biggest bitch ever. That is all. Why? Because I don't have anything nice to say so I won't say anything at all. We'll talk about it in private :)

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    1. Yeah, it's so easy to just forget that there are PEOPLE on the other side of the computer. And it's also challenging when texts/tweets can be misinterpreted. It's so easy to think something is being said one way when it's really not just bc you can't decipher tone online!

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  5. Ha - I totally agree! I can't get with Twitter (or Facebook) drama.

    Tanya Patrice
    Girlxoxo.com

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  6. THIS THIS THIS. I've been so so disillusioned with Twitter these days because of this. I just don't get it...why. I vague tweet on occasion but always about IRL things that nobody knows/I KNOW these people don't know about my blog or anything so they don't follow me. And I've totally been paranoid when I see those things on Twitter that it's me and I hate assuming that they COULD be but it's out there and you start calculating everything you said and did and get yourself all in a tizzy worrying that it was you.

    I think the thing I hate most about it all is that sometimes it's really easy to go back and see who the subtweeting is about based on interactions or blog comments or whatever and I HATE that I've taken time in some cases to see who the drama is about. And I watch both sides start tweeting about the other and it's just so sad and awful and I always find myself slinking off Twitter for a couple days or "conveniently" not opening Twitter up.

    I love the internet but I hate the way it has made people feel like their words don't make an impact or that there aren't any consequences because they don't SEE the effects. I hate when I see what gets said to authors. Just general rude and nasty behavior. Ganging up. Making drama out of everything. I wish people could see how unbecoming it is because it really is.

    Wise words, H!

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    1. Yeah, vague tweets in general aren't that bad. Because sometimes you're talking about life or things offline and that makes sense. It's the tweets about people that just frustrate me. Tweeting about a job or an assignment or something is so different than complaining or being negative about a person. And yes, the paranoia sucks!

      I've definitely investigated the drama before, and I usually just wish I'd ignored it all. But yeah, curiosity can definitely get to me. And then I end up feeling all negative and over it all.

      Right there with you! Love the Internet but hate that it creates the illusion of being able to say anything you want without consequences.

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  7. You hit the nail on the head. I've unfollowed a couple of people already just because I didn't want to bother seeing their hateful tweets. I'm appalled at some of their behavior. If I ever meet them in person, I'll be civil but I won't go out of my way to befriend them. To be honest, I study what people tweet before I end up following them. I know it can be a bad judgement call if I'm wrong but I just don't want to associate with people who spread hate. Am not saying I'm "perfect" but I do make random tweets that are very vague. Getting heated up in that moment sometimes makes me regret writing the tweet.

    I too, have the exact same mantra on Twitter, if you won't say it to their face, don't say it all.

    Great post <3 very thoughtful!

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    1. I've unfollowed people too, and that's a GREAT idea to look at people's tweets before even following them. I'm going to start doing that, too! But yeah, I don't want to have to see rude or hateful things in my feed. I'm definitely not perfect either! It's hard when you want to vent not to turn to that as an outlet!

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  8. I really don't like negativity and I believe that the blogging community for the most part plays pretty well together. It's unfortunate that people are so petty and passive aggressive. It's much more mature and constructive to confront the person privately to say what you need to say or to just ingnore them. I have unfriended people, heck, i started a whole new account to get away from some of the stuff that I just didn't want to deal with. I'm not good with confrontation, especially with people I don't really "know." This is a great post and I'm glad you took the time to write and share it with us. ~daphne

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    1. Thanks Daphne! I feel like things are usually pretty good in the book blogging community. And then there's some random drama that just stirs everything up! So frustrating. But good for you for finding a way to "get away" from it. That's great! Some things are totally worth talking about it with someone but, like you said, do it privately. That's always the best way to handle things!

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  9. I love this post, Hannah! Your thoughts on Twitter and some of the drama that ensues on there are spot on. I think, in general, it's best to behave like you would in real life - be nice, be kind, be respectful. Thank you for being so honest and for getting this point out there so well!

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    1. I'm so glad you agree! You're always one of my favorite people on social media for the exact reasons you mentioned in your comment. Hope I get to meet you in real life someday!

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  10. I haven't personally witnessed any of this behavior on Twitter (or I haven't realized it), but I know it goes on and it's pretty appalling. I think it's interesting because I feel like so many bloggers malign mean girl or bully characters, but then it's so easy to become the bully. I'm with you, I'm an adult with a job (no husband..yet ;)) and I just don't have time for that. Personally I don't love Twitter because I feel like it's a lot of noise and not a lot of things to value. I'll scroll through, but I'm more interested it as kind of a news aggregate about things I'm personally interested than as a way to connect with bloggers.

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    1. I usually miss most of it, too. But there are random occasions where I spot it, and then it's so frustrating. Yes, it's so easy to become a mean girl or bully without realizing it, especially because the Internet environment makes you feel like you can kinda say anything. That's interesting to hear how you use Twitter! I like the news aggregate mindset :)

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  11. As soon as I read this post, I thought about the Disney community. They are how I learned about the "subtweet". Sometimes I wake up and there's a whole drama I missed overnight + that's just over theme parks! haha. But also very personal and not nice. Eh. I just feel like wherever people have their own platform, they are going to say what they want and do what they want no matter who they are hurting and it sucks. There are so many times I want to write something super passive and I just take a deep breath and tell someone ELSE how I'm feeling or just let it go. I don't want my Twitter account to portray some "perfect life" or "a perfect being who acts and says everything in the right way all the time" because that's not true -- I fuck up all the time -- but I also don't think posting everything on my mind is healthy either. It's sort of like your earlier posts from the year... just because I can do it, doesn't mean I should. (See, life coach, it's all coming together.) xo

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    1. Haha! That's SO interesting! I had no idea that the Disney community could get so heated. I completely agree with you on the fact that anytime people have their own platform they're just gonna say what they want. I have TOTALLY had those moments where I wanted to tweet something rude and vague but made myself just take a deep breath and text someone. I'm with you! I'm certainly not perfect and don't feel like Twitter needs to hide that fact, but I also know that I don't have to share everything that's on my mind. Because I don't do that in everyday life either. Haha!

      Also: yay life coaching!

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  12. I always miss the drama - maybe I don't follow those people - but I follow a lot of bloggers, like you, who continue to call them out for being drama inciters. I'm so nosy I always wonder what happened. I wish we could all be nice.
    BTW I found you through Twitter and became a follower because of it. I hope you'll continue to have a presence so others can find you too. :)

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    1. Oh I'm happy for you if you miss the drama! I hope it stays that way for you :) And I can totally be curious, too, and usually end up wishing I hadn't looked into it. Haha!

      And that's so cool that you found me through Twitter! I love hearing that, and don't worry - I'll definitely still be present there. I love talking to people about books too much to leave it completely!

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  13. First, I want to say that I get your blog emails and read and love your posts, but I'm very bad at remembering to actually turn on my computer and comment. Often I compose a comment in my head and then it goes nowhere…

    This is a very thoughtful post, and I think we all need the reminder sometimes that twitter is PUBLIC and anything said there is going to be seen by many people. However, where I think about this topic the most is in regards to books and authors. What I mean is, I've definitely discussed books I don't like openly on twitter. While I try to not spoil anything and be respectful, I do sometimes start to feel bad about "what if the author saw this?" Especially when getting ranty. I think books are much more fair game, and I don't flatter myself that many authors are paying attention to what I do, but I've definitely worried about this before. I think one if the most important things is to not turn a book discussion into author bashing, which is also a careful line that has been discussed a lot concerning reviews. In any case, you've definitely gotten me thinking as always!

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    1. Aw you're so sweet, L! I'm so bad at reading posts on my phone and not going back to comment, so I totally hear you on that one. It means so much that you read and love them :) That's such a compliment!

      Oh I like the angle you've been thinking about! I hadn't even considered that before (aside from the whole I don't @ authors if I'm posting a review where I said something negative or critical about their book). Those are great points to think about concerning authors and how you discuss their work. I think you're right - discussion is great and fine but when it turns into a rant it's probably best moved offline.

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  14. Maybe you SHOULD call for a revolution. (:
    I've had to severely limit my twitter interaction for a long time now because of first, the negativity, and then the way it just ripples. And also the things you are mentioning here. I think the list you mention is PERFECT for what people ought to think of before we tweet. We're probably all guilty of tweeting before we think, but I think sometimes I can just watch it unfold into a big monster and it makes me feel all icky and I feel almost like I'm a part of it just for having a twitter account. I hate that so much, because being up there is how I found this community that I love so much. So I've had to step back - not be active in the evenings anymore, barely active during the day, and this has been for a while. I'm doing a massive, massive negativity overhaul in my life, and unfortunately my activity on twitter fits into that - I don't apologize for cutting that part out of my life for a while because it stresses me and takes away from healthier, better things. And I don't want to be a part of high school-ish games, either.

    So, yeah, I could go on but I really love this post. A ton. Also, I'm reading Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst, so that's probably why I could go on. But I won't (:

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    1. Hah! I'll call for a revolution if you'll join me in leading it ;)

      I completely agree. Its not just the negativity but also the way it spreads that really makes Twitter a downer at times. I support taking a step back and limiting how much you use it! I agree that we're all guilty of tweeting without putting much thought into it, no matter what the tweet is actually about. Yay negativity overhaul! That will be so good in the long run, even though I think it's sometimes hard to make those changes at first. Getting to a better, healthier place is WAY more important than interacting online. And AMEN to not being a part of high school-ish games. I'm too old for that! :)

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  15. YES, thank you for this. This is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves about social media and the blogging world. I just don't ever really understand why anyone needs to be called out on social media, whether directly mentioned or not. If someone had an issue with me, I would hope they would email me or DM me right off the bat. I don't understand why people feel the need to drag things out onto Twitter and why they can't handle things directly.
    Is that wrong of me to say? Is that sort of calling people out in a blog comment? I guess so, but I don't mean it at anyone specifically! It just creates so much drama which I actively try to avoid because blogging and reading and Twitter are my fun places to go! I just don't see the need for all of the drama to clog it up! :)

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  16. I love you for this post. I think I have subtweeted a few times in the past, but never about anything big and I really regret them anyway, because I don't think they are necessary, and I don't like the way the blogging community is handling things like this. There have been quite some tweets in which I recognized myself or my friends and it actually hurts. If there is something you need to say, say it to some of your close friends instead. For me, personally, it worked to just unfollow some people. I come to blogging and Twitter to have fun with friends and I don't like that time to be filled with negativity. I took a step back for a while because Twitter made me feel sad and I don't like that. So I just cut some people out, harsh as it may sound.

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  17. I reading your blog this blog is amazing & your blog about Life Coach is excellent thanks for sharing this interesting blog.

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