Have you ever started a Twitter tiff? You know, the time when you are at your most tetchy and someone leaves a smart comment under yours. This gets under your skin so much that you reply, and it all kicks off from there. As many would say, we all fight with our toenails when we have to. Or with our keyboards (hence, keyboard warriors.)
Retweeting ludicrous comments allows people to poke fun at each other. Yet it is also a way of exposing your own idiosyncracies online. It also gives credence to these views. In the age of Trump, anything, and I mean, anything, is fair game. Like a picture of a cat? You’re obviously a sad old cat lady. Like a football comment? You’d better be male, or you don’t know what you’re talking about. Disagree with someone’s point of view? You’re victim shaming, not debating. Everything is bigger online. And harsher.
Research on social media shows that depression decreases the less one uses social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. While there is still a balance between positive and negative feedback, naturally as humans we tend to focus more on the negative. Cyberbullying, revenge porn and other hate crimes are increasing annually. This means that young adults come to see negative behaviour as normal and expected. Trolling is the norm. It is then no surprise that lack of interaction with these competitive platforms is well-advised.
How can we gain respect online? The answer is similar to the advice we were given in school. Stand up for yourself and defend like your life depends on it. For standing up for yourself is the only option when you are confronted with an avatar and a computer screen. Of course, this is within reason. Develop a Twitter tiff self-defense strategy for trolls.
Twitter can be used as a tool for change, in both positive and negative ways. It is possibly the best way to interact with like-minded people. Yet we should not be afraid to debate and discuss uncomfortable issues with those that do not share our views. For that way lies stagnation.