I’ve been thinking about a picture I saw come through twitter (not going to post it) of a big guy leaning on a fast food counter with his stomach hanging out of his t-shirt, and the words alongside quipping “Say something nice.” At the time I saw it, many had retweeted, none had replied. No one could think of anything nice. I didn’t care to pass it on, even to pointedly say something nice, because that might only encourage opposing response, and I didn’t feel like seeing that come back in my notifications. But I can sure think of a few things to say to people who tweet like that.
Stop pointing negativity out.
Stop using mocking pictures of other people to get attention for yourself.
Stop refocusing my feed onto your problem with getting past feeling disgusted at the world around you.
Stop noticing what you dislike and start sharing what you like.
My first thought was “Oh, that poor man, he must have a tumor.” I’ve known people who’ve had to live with tumors because they didn’t have the means or help to have them surgically removed. Tumors aren’t picky. I’ve seen them on pets, farm animals, wild animals and birds, and people of all ages, weights, and ethnicities. They can grow anywhere, and anywhere they grow makes a person miserable if it gets big enough.
My second thought was “Not one soul retweeting is helping anyone or this man with any kind of kindness or knowledgeable advice.” I had pointed out in my feed the other day that mashed between horrible stories of people raping, murdering, and hating each other were pictures of people being sweet to poor little kitties and puppies with the quip “Faith in humanity restored.” Really? My incoming twitter feed looks pretty messed up sometimes.
I like keeping a fairly perky timeline going, at least not be a drag. Or if I’m being a drag, at least distract myself with something funny or clever or nice to look at, you know? Yesterday I was playing a retweet game and was so stunned by some of the tweets I ran into that I went ahead and shared them, and a follower rightly tapped the list feed with a generic ‘please don’t do that’, I got the point and faved. He was totally right, I slipped up. I was out of character and shared stuff that would get people upset to see it, and that is not what I’m known for. People follow me because I’m different, they can get away from all that when they follow my feed.
I’ve been playing around with how I tweet for a couple of years, and I guess the most surprising thing I’ve noticed is that people pop back up out of the woodwork to touch base when I stop being so rowdy with one particular gang or another. I’m actually part of at least 5 different twitter gangs, and they mostly don’t overlap much. Some gangs are busier than others, I’m not as active in one as in another, sometimes a whole gang goes quiet for awhile and then resurfaces, but for the most part, I was oblivious to some of the personal interaction politely stopping for a whole year while I clobbered feeds with a really busy gang, and then when I slowed down suddenly a number of people were popping up saying hi again. I was amazed at how many, how uniquely timed they were, and how obvious it suddenly became to me that they had just simply watched and waited for a whole year for a turn to speak to me without getting mowed over or lost in multiple convos in the process.
I love twitter. I love brain sharing. I feel like R2D2 plugging into a wall socket, it’s just all so direct. I’m learning to tune my feeds, learning the ways of the filters, learning list controls. I feel like a pilot maneuvering through thought slipstreams. I like seeing the blur of all those other people around me as I move in and out of traffic. I love that I’m not alone.
As I get better at twitter, I hope I am good for other people. I really do picture twitter like a flock of birds. I live out in the woods, and I see all kinds of birds in all kinds of weather. Some fly high above the crowds surfing the winds. Some constantly flit and gab. Some dive bomb other birds and start squabbles. Some just sit on a branch and tweet all day long and it doesn’t matter what else happens, that’s just what they do. On really cold days the birds line up on high wires, shoulder to shoulder, braced against a nasty wind full of rain or sleet- and that’s how I see us on twitter, braced against the hard stuff all together. At least we know each other is there.
My faith in humanity doesn’t come from kitty and puppy pictures. My faith in humanity comes from followers nudging me when I step out of line and become a drag. I know I am being watched, I know someone heard me, and I know they cared enough to respond. My faith in people is about them having faith in me.
I think we’re all going to find our balance in group mind, but we’ve got some growing pains to go through first. We all hurt, we all have bad days, and we all learn eventually that we get back what we give out. Group hugs are free on twitter when you learn the crowdspeak.