Outrage on Twitter

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Outrage on Twitter

I like social media. I know the pitfalls, but I love the positives. Many young people are abandoning Facebook, leaving it to the boomer generation it seems. I want to stay connected with young people, and politics, so I am on Twitter too. (I’m also on Instagram, but only to follow my two darling granddaughters).

Lately, I’ve become disillusioned with Twitter. I love all the links to clever political analysis, to satire and literary links. And as a writer, it is a way to promote achievements, post links to successes. But more and more, my thread is filled with people, crying over the cliché level of spilt milk. I don’t care if your bus is late… I don’t care if your latte isn’t perfect… I don’t care that you are locked out of your house briefly.  But yes, you can tweet about it, and maybe your friends do care, and that’s cool too.

But then there is another level. This is more problematic and has been causing me to pause. I am fascinated that people feel free to tweet personal information, not about themselves, but blow by blow accounts of actual private interactions with their children. Do they seek permission before doing this?  Now, as a writer, I can see I’m heading for trouble, as we writers, plunder, plagiarise, copy and steal in the name of fiction. My defense is that as fiction, people are not recognisable (although of course people do see themselves, even when it’s not them).

But, if your child, teenager, young adult, is going through a rough patch, do you tweet a blow by blow account of this? Is this fair.  This child, teenager, young adult, will have a life beyond their mistakes hopefully… but will these tweets about their mistakes, outlast even their achievements as they mature, develop, and change. There seems to me, to be a narcissistic quality to the cries of ‘poor me’, from parents seeking support and affirmation, sharing all these troubles. At times, I have wanted to respond, with ‘stop tweeting and start mothering’… but indeed, I wasn’t the perfect mother and I also know the anguish when a child (no longer a child), goes missing for days and you are desperate with worry. Back then, without Twitter, we networked with friends and our children’s friends for answers.  Twitter seems such a random way to seek solace and support on serious matters.

On the other hand, I love the political traction. I loved it when Mona Eltahawy tweeted non-stop and eventually the young Saudi woman she was supporting, found asylum in Canada – this was real-time activism and it worked. And too, this was about a ‘run away’ child as the young woman was a teenager.  But the difference as I see it, is this young woman was seeking help via Twitter, using it as a tool for her own benefit.

And too, the tribalism. Twitter seems devoid of nuance and compassion at times. It’s not the place for reasoned debate. The very platform requires complex issues to be reduced or drip fed in threads where reason seems to dwindle.

We all seem to enjoy being outraged… I’m beginning to think we might take some advice from Prufrock perhaps, prepare our faces to meet the people we will meet – not to be two-faced, but a chance for more understanding.

Of course, I’m writing this because, I’m outraged… but in truth I laugh a lot as well, following some of the fabulous political satire both local and international…whew!

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