When news breaks, Twitter is always the place to go for mass hysteria, uninformed hot takes, and conspiracy theories. Twitter is rarely the place to go for facts, background information, or a rational explanation of the news scrolling across the bottom of your television screen.
Social media, Twitter specifically, has changed the way we communicate, but the effects of that change run deeper than many could predict.
Twitter is creating a generation of politicos who are uninformed, self-righteous, and factious.
Of course, Twitter is not all bad. Twitter and other social media platforms can be great if used effectively. There may not be one “proper” way to utilize social media, but there are (or should be) a few universal rules: inform yourself outside of the social media sphere, take the time to compose an educated statement, and be respectful. If we all keep those tips in mind, it will be easier to compare ideas with people around the world and to be more productive intellectually.
Beware of skimming messages and racing to reply without necessarily understanding what the person meant by his or her words. When met with hostility, most will not be willing to budge on a viewpoint; conversely, if you are able to convey an opinion with facts and respect, you may be more successful.
To be sure, it’s exciting to tweet out a hot take and see your notifications pile up. Suddenly, the little number next to the “like” symbol seems important; in fact, you seem important. For a moment, we believe that we are national security experts or advisors to the President himself. Recently, everyone became an expert in constitutional law when news reports suggested that President Trump disclosed classified information to the Russians. We get into fights with people we don’t know about issues that we ourselves are not even that well informed, and it’s impossible to insult a stranger into agreeing with you.
Having a social media account is free, so other than basic requirements like age or having an email address, there are no education or experience requirements. Being able to tweet well does not make you famous, and if you keep that in mind, you’ll have so much more success on social media. It is imperative that you do not take yourself too seriously on Twitter.
If you try to act like an expert on everything, no one will take you seriously on anything.
If we all remember that Twitter is not a job, perhaps we’ll be able to use the tool more efficiently. Needing to be taken seriously on a website that barely requires you to disclose your identity isn’t exactly the definition of being successful in life. Sure, we all want to sound smart in our “hot takes” and political commentary, but now and again it is important to take a step back and remember that Twitter is only a speck in what matters in life.
Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) reminds all of us that a tweet doesn’t do much, and you certainly are not making any progress with 140 characters.
Just as you can't lead the executive branch jumping tweetstorm to tweetstorm, we also won't do oversight well flailing hot take to hot take.
— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) May 17, 2017
Merely sharing your opinion through a social media account doesn’t make you “the problem.” But if we take the time to read each other’s thoughts and try to appreciate their origins, maybe we’ll understand one another a bit better.
Being on Twitter has made me more tolerant of and open to other ideas because many people that I follow have opinions different from my own. However, isolating yourself in a bubble and having an exaggerated sense of importance that comes from flying fingers across a keyboard will sooner or later create unnecessary conflict and strife. It is important to slow your fingers and remember that we are all just people behind screens. It’s just Twitter.