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.
“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?
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.