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.