Beware the perils of Twitter

I’ve often said Twitter is social media’s cesspool. Now that another celebrity has hit the Tweet button and blown up her latest opportunity, the only thing we can count on is who’s next. While heavyweights like Rob Reiner (no pun intended) and Jim Carrey can pretty much say what they want about anyone, and get away with it, most of us can’t. 

Twitter, unfortunately, is where media, politicos, and the political entertainment class hang out. News is made, broken, and distributed there. You can almost predict any network’s daily lead story, regardless of bias (and yes, there’s bias in every single one of them, right and left), by following political pundits on Twitter.

Musicians can be extremely vocal and extremely extreme about their politics, but if you’re an indie artist, don’t assume you can do what the corporate brands can do. You can’t.

One tragedy of this powerful social medium involves honesty. Daily, and repeatedly, I see claims by all types of political junkies. And many of those claims are false. At present we have dueling media divided largely into two primary camps. Gone are the days of “just the facts” or “who, what, when, where, why”. The prevailing sentiment seems to be persuade potential supporters to join the cause, and say whatever you must to accomplish the goal.

What do you do? After all, most in the arts rely on social media as a cog in the marketing wheel. Note the word cog. Social media isn’t the only tool you should use to get your work out there. I can tell you what I’ve started doing.

I set up a file on my desktop to hold my posts. Instead of typing them into the Twit shell, I type them into a document and then paste into the shell. This helps with misspells and grammatical screwups, but it also helps me to see if my post was changed after I published it. When you type on a small device like a phone, it’s an invitation to screw up. I figure the younger generation will all look squinty-eyed by the time they’re my age because so many of them read everything on that small screen.

If you’re angry as you’re surfing your social media timeline, think twice before you post. For one thing you don’t know who’s on the receiving end unless you know them personally. Some accounts intentionally troll, and if you post a dissenting opinion, you’re likely to be verbally assaulted by all manner of official troll minions. It is what it is. That’s how social media work, regardless of platform.

I have to confess that after years of writing and receiving feedback, almost nothing outrages me anymore when it comes to things people say. I’ve seen it all, from both major sides of the aisle. I’ve been called a “terrorist” (for writing a straight-up news story without expressing my opinion about a gathering of pro-gun groups). I’ve received several photos of naked men (waist-down), and I suppose the senders thought that would freak me out. It didn’t. I was amused.

Yet another hyperactive activist decided I was getting paid to Tweet. I’ve never been paid to post anything on social media.

The perils of Twitter are many, but they’re more significant if you’re an up and comer. Those who’ve already made their wealth like Reiner or Roseanne have little to lose when they attack others who disagree with their politics. But you may have much to lose and Twitter is an unforgiving, sanctimonious cesspool.

My advice to all is read what you wrote and then re-read it again. Consider being polite if you disagree with someone—that’s a Southernism, I know, but it’s a lot more civilized than sending naked pics or making false accusations. Twitter is a powerful medium, but at best, it is a cesspool, interesting and riveting though it may be. Twitter is, in fact, sort of like a 24/7 interactive reality sitcom. Tune in at your peril.

(Kay B. Day/May 30, 2018)

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