Monday, June 23, 2014

Twitter Rules Revisited

Two weeks ago, I live-tweeted the Tony Awards. I published seven tweets in three hours responding to an awards show that, for reference, gave six awards last year to a musical written by Cyndi Lauper about drag queen cobblers. A few days later, I accidentally became the seventeenth follower of someone I was under-the-radar Twitter stalking, and, upon discovering my error a full 36 hours later, unfollowed them, because yeah, like, that definitely makes it less weird.

So maybe I'm not the best at Twitter.

But in light of recent events, it has come to my attention that many of my peers are far, far worse. I've noticed a variety of trends on the social network recently - on #LogansportTwitter, primarily - that really are almost too straight-up crazytown to be believed. White kids referring to each other by the n-word? Selfies taken while being booked by the police? None of these things are off-limits on the Twitterverse these days, and I could literally not have made this reality up had I tried. I've written about how to not suck on Twitter before, but it seems that I need to revise my tips to make them a bit more basic. What follows is a list of Actual Totally Insane Things I've Seen on Twitter Lately That Oh My God I Need to Stop Seeing, Like, Preferably Yesterday.

1. Racial slurs, gay slurs, and any derivatives thereof. Dearest caucasian teenagers of northern Indiana, I cannot find the words to fully express my confusion at the fact that you don't know not to use racial slurs. I'm going to chalk one up for society or your friends and family or whatever is teaching you things, because my assumption is that race relations in your lives are so good these days that the advice, "Hey, maybe don't use the n-word" has been rendered so obvious as to be obsolete. I guess. Luckily, here I am to tell you what you've apparently never been told before: Hey, maybe don't use the n-word. Or any racial slurs. Or, while we're at it, gay slurs. Because those have been all over Teen Twitter lately, too, and dear baby Jesus this is a very confusing and horrible trend.

American Studies Sarah also has a lot of feelings on the "white girls" trend. Liking The Notebook or even liking Ryan Gosling's smokin'-hot bod does not make you necessarily female, and if you think it does, reevaluate yourself. Liking mocha chip frappuccinos doesn't make you necessarily white. But I digress. Don't use racial slurs and gay slurs, y'all. Civil rights. This is the 90s.

2. References to illegal activities in which the tweeter is partaking, will be partaking, or have partaken. Remember the entirety of Law & Order from roughly 1999 to 2003, where basically every last criminal was caught because they talked openly on the Internet about the illegal stuff they were doing? Remember how they were in no remote way light-handed about this? They and everyone else were apparently not heavy-handed enough. I am watching Law & Order right now, and the officer just said, "Nothing disappears from the Internet, ever." And this is not obvious enough.

Anyway, long story short, there's been a lot of talking about illegal activities on Teen Twitter lately, so let's just go over a few things on this front to avoid in your tweets:

- The smoking of the reefer, explicitly or in code. No one sees your tweets about your "fave medical supplies *sunglasses emoji*" and thinks, "Ah, yes - I, too, enjoy Advil."

- Drinking, being drunk, being hungover, your favorite drink, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum. Most of the ill-advised tweets I've seen on this topic are from tweeters with public profiles, which I think is the literal definition of unemployable. This rule, mind-numbingly-obviously, goes quadruple for those tweeters aged fewer than twenty-one years. If you are under the legal drinking age, I wouldn't even put the word "party" on your Twitter unless it is proceeded by "Grand Old," "SNL skit 1920s," or, for instance, I don't know, "Donner."

- Ritual murder and human sacrifice.

3. Anger and ill-will towards law or law enforcement. There are instances - measured criticisms of police stop-and-frisk policies, perhaps, if you're a consistent social advocate - in which polite references to one's disappointment with law or law enforcement could lead to fruitful discussion on Twitter.

There are other instances - say, profane declarations of the shortcomings of cops who break up house parties - in which Twitter is pretty much the worst place to vent your feelings about law or law enforcement. Can we all take some guesses as to what the following meme would translate to in modern prose or, say, NWA lyrics? Yes? Can we agree that this category of language is probably one we should not use in our tweets? Yes? Well, TEEN TWITTER HAS NOT REALIZED THIS. I repeat: I cannot make these things up. This is real life. Talk to your friends about your disappointment in authority figures. Don't put it in writing on the internet.

4. Excessive - and I do mean EXCESSIVE - swearing. I heard a censored version of Jason DeRulo's "Talk Dirty to Me" on the radio the other day, and, by the time the station had cut out everything inappropriate, only about half of the rap verse was left. It was absurd. Some of the Twitter accounts I've seen recently would easily be the visual equivalent of such censoring were someone to take out all the expletives flying around, and, while I'm not going to sit here and pretend I have any right to tell you to stop swearing altogether, I'm gonna say it's a decent idea to maybe not swear publicly and in writing on the internet where literally anyone can see it more than, like, once a week? I don't know. I have ideas sometimes; you could argue I'm a radical. 

Friends. Tweeters. Countrymen. We are living in an age where high school principals have Twitter accounts and where CNN puts tweets in their news coverage on live cable television. I'm not going to tell you (this time) how to be less annoying on Twitter - my entire persona revolves around being annoyed, so even if you were to try not to annoy me, you would probably fail. But avoiding racial slurs and police-bashing probably isn't so difficult. Let's take some baby steps together towards a better Twitter world. It's within your reach. Si se puede. Yes we can. 

And if this post has made you angry, go watch Gotta Kick It Up with young America Ferrera. You'll feel better.

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