Eillie Anzilotti’s examination of housing-debate Twitter is, as the piece itself says, “a good microcosm for examining Twitter as a platform for any debate”. I’ve been talking here about the need for context, not just “content”, and as one housing advocate explains it can be tricky.
Eldred describes a painstaking process for trying to convey an opinion on housing Twitter. “When I do a thread, I have to carefully write it such that no single Tweet I write could be pulled out of context to make me look bad, which of course is an interesting creative writing exercise given how little space you have.” Often, she says, what happens is she’ll try to compose a thread on Twitter linking together some of the opposing factions in housing Twitter—the need for tenant protections along with increased housing supply, for instance—only to have just one Tweet in the thread be pulled out of context and rendered “with the least charitable possible interpretation of what I said.” There have been some instances, Eldred says, “where I’ve made a comment that in the thread makes sense, but taken out of context just makes me sound callous and flippant, because if there’s no context, it just sounds like I’m saying tenants just need to deal with neighborhood change.”
There’s still plenty of room for many of Twitter’s strengths, such as “collaboration with other groups” and “housing organizing”, but if you wanted a good case study of the tensions between content and context in the current state of our social media, this piece is a pretty good one.