Have you filled your Twitter feed with those who are often in agreement with you? Or do you enjoy hearing dissenting voices?

 

‘Is Twitter anything more than an online echo chamber?’ asked Laura Marcus in the Guardian today.

 

 

Drawing attention to the fact that twitter users tend to follow those who share similar political viewpoints and interests, Laura quotes Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore, who stated

 

“You chose who to follow. There is a whole world of deep dark Twitter if you follow those who don’t think like you. But people don’t do that. I would not so much say it’s leftwing as knee jerk. So outrage over a Daily Mail article happens every day, which is frankly daft. Sometimes it can be about a piece published ages ago but no one had noticed till Twitter went berserk”

 

I agree that sometimes I peek outside of my little Twitter world and notice that there are other kinds of conversations going on, such as when the Tom Daley troll raged around Twitter.

I can think of several of those who I regularly communicate with who have very different political views, with whom I have engaged in discussions. I have only once blocked a follower who slipped over the line from debate to abusive and offensive so I would say it works well. At times I have not entered into the debate as I was not in the mood for a heated discussion, or I have deflected the comment with humour.

Earlier this week a tweet from a person I follow and have debated on the subject of Assange made me narrow my eyes in displeasure. I absolutely do not agree with her, but we had already discussed this and she is entitled to her opinion so I skimmed past the tweet and forgot about it. To unfollow her because I disagreed with her on this issue would be foolish, as she is interesting and informative.

Sometimes a remark from a follower will make me stop and think, and at times I have revised my opinion. Without ‘opposing’ voices I would miss this.

As long as the discussion is respectful and non-offensive, why block a person for not agreeing?

 

Of course, Twitter spats can happen at the blink of an eye and a slightly badly worded tweet can lead to unpleasant words and recriminations. I dislike this happening on my timeline, particularly when I like both of the people involved and they try to include others in their argument. RTing abusive tweets may seem like a good idea at the time, but perhaps a mildly worded reply, asking why that person was being abusive and hurtful would end the fight there and then.

I blogged about Kirstie Allsop being trolled recently and several of my followers pointed out that if she had simply blocked and reported the offensive tweets, no one would have been any the wiser. That is of course a slightly different situation that when two Twitter friends have an argument, which leaves their other followers trapped between them, not wishing to offend anyone or take sides.

 

I asked on Twitter earlier – do you follow those you disagree with? Most of my followers reported that they follow a variety of people, both those they agree with and those they do not agree with.

 

@annette1hardy Absolutely not. I try to achieve a balance and want to hear different points of view.

 

@KathrynBatten Yes – tend to follow people who make me think or laugh, but as with friends in ‘life’ I don’t always agree with them.

 

@Sepultura78 140 character restriction may explain why folk are less inclined to use twitter as a medium for debate…
… Internet forums much better for locking horns with the opposition..

 

(that last point from @Sepultura78 is important – presenting your argument in 140 characters can be challenging)

 

 

 

Lately I have noticed a rise in Twitter bashing articles and comments.

 

Is the honeymoon over and people are realising that Twitter is not what they wanted it to be?

 

 http://youtu.be/g6Rb-1sub4M

 

That advert made me want to hug Twitter. Are my Twitter friends real? Or a superficial friendersatz?

When I moved back to UK, I had more offers of help and meet ups from Twitter pals than from old RL friends. They know more about my day-to-day life, my hopes and ambitions, my dreams than my RL friends do. 

Social Media has brought me friends, work, fun and some amazing opportunities that I would never have had. Those who don’t use it, or who have given up because they just ‘don’t get it’ might find it hard to understand, but it is a vibrant part of my life.

Twitter is what you make of it.

 

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6 Comments

 

  1. Pingback : Lynn C Schreiber » » Is The Twitter Honeymoon Over?

  2. August 22, 2012  1:27 pm by Shackleford_LB Reply

    Perhaps it's different for Twitter users who don't have many followers. I don't, therefore, I tend to have followers with whom I might broadly agree with on most subjects. The more followers, the greater the opportunity for disagreement.


    Agree, tho', that 'Twitter is what you make of it' and I have developed very supportive networks, both amongst my followers and those I am following.

    • August 22, 2012  9:39 pm by Lynn C Schreiber Reply

      That is true. I do follow a lot of people and have quite a few followers so the chance of disagreement is high.

  3. August 22, 2012  10:20 pm by Kate C Reply

    I do not mind opposing views if they are well thought out and reasoned. I will excuse a badly worded tweet as it's really hard to be eloquent in 140 characters. But I do reserve the right to unfollow or block people whose views I find offensive or just plain ignorant. One that doesn't stand up to scrutiny when they are challenged. I fell out with a long time follower during the Olympics who asserted that Rebecca Adlington had "failed" because she had "only" won a bronze. Note the won there. It was quite ignorant and he could not back it up with any reasoned argument. No matter that she swam faster than she did in Beijing. He didn't care that she had been beaten by two people even faster than her. In his eyes, she had "failed". I really cannot stand that sort of attitude, particularly as he understands nothing about the life of an elite athlete. I got sick of a lot of pleasure vampires during the Olympics, in fact and unfollowed them. But I did keep a lot who were far more reasoned and just had a different opinion.

  4. August 23, 2012  5:56 am by Charlott Reply

    I think kind of shaming people for only having follower/ following people who are similiar in interest, is a quite privileged thing to do. There are varied reasons for not following "every kind of person".

    I do block a lot of people. In my twitter bubble we almost always discuss topics with a specific antiracist, antisexist etc. mindset. That draws people in who just love to disagree. Of course my follower and the people I follow don't agree on everything, we have heated discussions, but there is a basis we all share. I have to keep up with hate comments/ threats of violence/ "polite" derailing in all the other corners of the internet. (For even though I won't publish such comments on the blogs I am involved, I see them before deleting or sending them of to hatr.org) I try for myself to keep my twitter space as safe as possible. I don't want people to tell my what they think rape is and what not - that might be really triggering on some days.

    So, yes, I build a bubble (which obviously still bursts quite often) and I am really okay with that.

    • September 15, 2012  2:06 pm by Lynn C Schreiber Reply

      There is no right and wrong way to use Twitter, and you are right - sometimes it is good to have a place to discuss issues without fear of hateful comments. It is however important to know that this is what you are doing (as you seem to) and not imagine that one is absolutely right because everyone on Twitter agrees.

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