Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Man Hates Self, Twitter

One Matt K. Lewis is very angry with Twitter.

But first, I'm in love with his opening sentence. "Soren Dayton and Rob Bluey — two conservative tech geniuses — talked me into joining Twitter during a lunch Ed Morrissey organized at an Iraqi restaurant in Minneapolis during the 2008 Republican convention." I've heard of maybe two of these things, if you include "2008." WHY. WHAT? But in any event, here's the story of what happened to Matt K. Lewis: Twitter went evil all around him.

"It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment it happened — but at some point, Twitter became a dark place. It's a lot like the transformation of the 1960s. It started out being about free love, sharing ideas, and changing the world, but somehow we ended up being more about Altamont and Charles Manson."

I mean personally I would compare what happened to Twitter to Kent State, but okay. (Too soon?) It is meaner now, he thinks, and "coarser." Most interesting about this take is that it's in direct contradiction to the idea of "the new niceness." It's also a bit odd coming in the week of the debut of Vine, where the comment prompt, amazingly, is "say something nice." (Also I do not think Twitter started out as anything to do with "changing the world.)

Whenever someone writes one of these screeds, they have to ignore that Twitter is entirely self-selecting. You chose who to follow. You chose to behave like a jerk, or a needy child, or a boor. Twitter didn't make you an ass. Twitter gave you an opportunity to exhibit your lack of impulse control. (It seems fair to mention here that I have learned a few hard lessons about my own bad behavior, lack of impulse control and inability to manage tone on the Internet on Twitter. Fortunately I'm an adult and have learned from some of my mistakes. SOME, I said.) Twitter gave us all a chance to prove to again that sometimes we have no boundaries. So if you can't simply unfollow people you don't care about, or block people that gross you out, you need to go back to therapy. Twitter is almost entirely a projected fantasy life of people you think or wish were your friends and your society. I say "almost" because, if you've ever been harassed or stalked online, lemme tell you, it's both terrible and not your fault. But otherwise? Most everything that you consume on Twitter is because you chose it. And if you can't live with what you've made for yourself, you should definitely make like Matt K. Lewis and leave. Then you'll be safe. Until you publish a piece about it. And everyone makes fun of you on Twitter. Which seems kind of unfair, really, but here we are.

20 Comments / Post A Comment

CaptBackslap (#10,313)

When the best example you can come up with for something "turning into a dark place" is people making fun of Wayne LaPierre, it might be time to delete your draft and write a different piece.

BadUncle (#153)

I'm more intrigued by the words "Iraqi restaurant" than anything on else Twitter.

City_Dater (#2,500)


I stopped reading after "Iraqi restaurant in Minneapolis," because I know nothing else in a story involving Twitter is going to make me exclaim "really!" in a cheerful tone.

Miss Hiss (#241,288)

@BadUncle It's actually a Kurdish restaurant in St. Paul . . . I left the Twin Cities for Chicago almost five years ago and I still get misty at the memory of the dowjic soup at good old Babani's.

hershmire (#233,671)

Woah, woah, woah. You can unfollow people?

palinode (#4,375)

And let's not forget that his article has a paragraph that starts off with "One of my most ingenious ideas was…"

Matt Lewis is upset because Twitter is now full of people and he's not special anymore.

NinetyNine (#98)

Would have been really special if he posted it to his Medium account.

bluebears (#5,902)

Wait until he "discovers" tumblr. The listicle he'll write about the top 20 Conservative Journalists on tumblr will be epic.

petejayhawk (#1,249)

It shocks me that a conservative would find himself surrounded with negativity and anger on Twitter.

BadUncle (#153)

@petejayhawk Is he a naysayer to the nattering nabobs of negativism?

hockeymom (#143)

I guess Matt gets to decide what the "nice things" are.

@hockeymom And THAT is precisely why we can't have them any more.

Mike Greene (#6,106)

I'm more interested in the online stalking – what happened?!

jfruh (#713)

"Twitter is almost entirely a projected fantasy life of people you think or wish were your friends and your society."

but … you're my real pretend friend right choire :(

deepomega (#1,720)

@jfruh come on down to il pirata, where everyone is paid to pretend to be your friend

Choire will ruin your subtweet.

Spencer Lund (#2,331)

"Hi, my name is [insert twitter handle], and I have a problem." Whatever happened to good old fashioned (mortar and pestle please) impulse control issues at the bar?

Freddie DeBoer (#4,188)

Lewis undoes his own point when he mentions that you can have a private Twitter account just for people you approve. Once he mentions it, he's boxed in: just use a private Twitter. But that's not okay, because he wants to also have a public platform. The problem isn't Twitter; the problem is how many people want to have it both ways. They want publicity without public accountability, and you don't get that. You just have to choose: is my Twitter public or is it private? Then, act that way.

I'm often shcoked by how little he knows about politics and technology so this article makes a lot of sense.

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