Tag: Social Media

In the face of Mine Furor’s repeated false charges on Twitter that Joe Scarborough murdered someone, Twitter’s only response is this.

We are deeply sorry about the pain these statements, and the attention they are drawing, are causing the family. We’ve been working to expand existing product features and policies so we can more effectively address things like this going forward, and we hope to have those changes in place shortly.

This is not a statement. It’s a pointing into the distance; yelling, “What’s that!”; and running away.

The Granular Control Of Novels On Sticky Notes

It’s no secret that I generally dislike Twitter threads and tend to wish more people would just blog, and then selectively quote it in a couple choice tweets. Most of the time, like Alan Jacobs, I find threads to be “choppy, imprecise, abstract, syntactically naïve or incompetent, lacking in appropriate transitions” — as Robert of Frosted Echoes said it’s like “reading a novel written on sticky notes”.

(In some ways even worse still, threads open the door to people retweeting every tweet in a thread, which: I mean, come on.)

That said, Jacobs’ post reminded me of a terrific defense of threads by Jessica Price in which she notes the unique degree of control threading gives her over how thoughts are conveyed and constructed.

I can’t necessarily control which tweets people will read or not read, but people rarely read only part of a tweet. It’s almost impossible to only read part of it, given the length and how it’s displayed.

So if I can fit a complete thought into a single tweet, I can at least guarantee that people will see that thought as a unit.

Moreover, people almost never quote part of a tweet. They retweet or embed it as a whole. So if I can fit that complete thought into a single tweet, I can almost guarantee that a single phrase in it won’t be quoted out of context.

Price also notes the “granularity” threads offer in terms of being able to pick and choose what conversations to have based upon to which tweets people respond.

I’m always going to vigorously nod whenever someone hates on Twitter threads, but ever since Price’s thoughts on why she threads I’m never going to nod without also thinking about her take, which I kept forgetting to blog about — if only so I could find it again, because I didn’t bookmark it. If nothing else, Jacob’s post finally gave me the excuse.

Link Log Roundup for May 13, 2020

In this edition: PTSD at Facebook, bankrupt hospitals, conservation efforts, incel communities and autism, a surreal Senate hearing, black men in masks, losing health insurance, ignoring CDC guidance, disability tech, urban air quality, rent strikes, Oregon counties, failed leadership, protests at the Oregon coast, dogs finding whale scat, vacating non-unanimous verdicts, suburban flight, investing in black neighborhoods, testing and stigma, evolutionary psychology, defending life, and the psychology of consumption.

Context Collapse, Controversy, and Cancellation

I’m not sure I possibly could care less that Lady Gaga apparently complains that “she had a choice to either make good music and remain in obscurity, or become outrageously commanding of the attention of pop culture and society, and, in the process, become a parody of herself”, given that many terrific and/or entertaining musicians manage to live their lives quite happily in “obscurity”.

If you scroll past all of that, however, Vicki Boykis has an interesting dissection of how once you pass some indeterminate number of followers on social media — somewhere well past Dunbar’s number — something changes.

The other thing that happens when you gain a lot of followers, or tweet something that becomes popular, is that all of your tweets are now a platform. Instead of replies being personal to you, they become a water cooler where people can congregate and discuss and give their own interpretation of whatever you’ve talked about, about you personally, or about their pet issues.

Notwithstanding the fact that past a certain point there’s sure to be someone, somewhere, who takes issue with even your most innocuous statement just because you are there and accessible, I’m less convinced I should be concerned that achieving platform numbers means that “[you] could be saying something wrong at any time that gets [you] cancelled”.

Context collapse’s potential for revealing that you might be terrible on one subject or another seems to me not a platform issue so much as a you issue.

Boykis is right, near the end, when she says that the “way out of this is to reclaim Dunbar’s number, which means smaller social networks that have more context, more support”, but I’m still brought up short at the idea that the problem is the comparative “ability for more controversial thoughts to get out into the public”.

Most people who get “cancelled” aren’t cancelled because they’re controversial; it’s because they are terrible.

“Social network” and “social media” are not two different terms describing the same thing.

Sometime last night or this morning I dreamt that I’d started a pandemic podcast where I’d just spend half an hour each day talking with a different person I know on Twitter. There was no particular aim or some sort of thematic point. For all intents and purposes to anyone who listened it was more or less just another random person.

While I’m on hiatus here, and rethinking the hows and whys of my blogging, consider signing this petition urging one.com to give or sell me their long-dormant @bix Twitter handle. Oh god, what have I done.

Today I unfollowed an Instagram account that I’d only just recently followed for its photos of businesses around town boarded up for the duration of social distancing measures because for some reason it refused to post gallery posts, and would just suddenly post like fifteen individual posts in a row. Had they been geotagging the posts, and so each needed to be individual, I could understand it, although I’d probably still have unfollowed; they weren’t though. There’s simply no reason for them to be posting a dozen or two separate photos in rapid succession.

In the latest Civic Signals newsletter, Andrew Small picks up on my reference in the previous edition to third places, a term coined by Ray Oldenburg and to some extent popularized by Robert Putnam.

Part of the challenge is that social media doesn’t always have the kind of structure that bars or coffee shops can use to distinguish between those many possible purposes. A place like Twitter hasn’t figured out how to be a truly third space. With work and home becoming one place for so many of us, we could really use somewhere else to go.

The last time I discussed third places was in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and global social distancing measures — a context in which it’s all the more important for there to be virtual analogues to such places.

Twitter, however, while it has its uses not only isn’t such a place (because it’s a space, not a place; it moves too quickly and depends too much on indication rather than interaction) it could only ever facilitate such places were it to drastically overhaul its very premise.

And I just read my first Nextdoor plea for martial law because the poster can’t afford to be out of work much longer.