Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category

Retraction of my Twitter Preaching

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Here’s me putting my foot in my mouth less than a week after having chastised people for “holding back” in the twitosphere. In applying for a grant last weekend, I was asked to supply my Twitter handle. I did, didn’t think much of it, progressed to tweet away carelessly, remembered the application, read through my tweet history, and decided upon the need to take action a la My Fair Lady.

I deleted a tweet something along the lines of  “systems mapping is making me feel autistic” and I made some tweets over the next few days mentioning a play that I saw, a Wikipedia page that I read, a book that I had bought, an article I wrote, etc. Who am I? I feel so ridiculous to have condemned people for basically just wanting to be hired. At the same – why do jobs and grants and all these other random things that have nothing to do with our social lives keep asking for our Twitter handles?!

Anyway, the shame I felt during my Twitter makeover enhanced a feeling/worry I’ve been having lately – am I trying to assimilate with some Twitter counterculture? Talking about things I’m interested in academically or things I’ve done in the city isn’t “not me,” but I feel like I’ve built some kind of taboo around it. The Twitter etiquette going on in my head needs some serious deconstruction! – help me!  Am I just ascribing to the rule set of a different public sphere?  Do I even *get* the rules?

It’s so awkward and sometimes really annoying to witness a person trying to “find their voice” on social media. On the one hand, I hate all this hashtag-@mention-excess, aspiring-yuppie, community-engagement garbage. On the other hand, anything to do with absurdism, irony, or spelling mistakes so easily comes off as totally contrived. So I subtweet-insult these kinds of tweeters, but simultaneously haven’t found my voice yet either.

Well, I guess this post was mostly an apology/confession. And I’m going to try to stop being bossy and talking like I know everything … this is the internet after all.


Self-censorship in the Twitosphere

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013


Using twitter at my given age and professional standpoint presents me with an inner conflict seemingly common to many of my twitter-using peers. I wish to keep my account open for reasons of public engagement, visibility and, let’s be real, wanting more followers. Existing in the public, however, means that technically anyone with access to Twitter can look at my profile. Those I fret most about include professors, relatives, potential employers, and current employers. Generally, the relationships I maintain with these sorts of “figures,” consist in an element of reservation: I want to conceal certain aspects of my lifestyle, perhaps tailor my language, emphasize the responsible, or intellectual, or well-behaved sides of my self. Of course, the way in which I position my self varies from relationship to relationship.

In the case of Twitter, though, @Buajitti is my sole vessel for self, and this vessel is accessible to all those for whom I’d previously self-customized. Anyone’s encounter with this account will colour their relationship with me. With this in mind, how am I to customize my Twitter? Am I to amalgamate customizations? From my observation and experience, the lowest common denominator is less-than-desirable: when I tweet as though the world is watching, I not only bore but also debase myself, and when I see my friends do the same, I feel a sense of longing and disappointment.

It so often feels as though Twitter is serving as the extension of a resume, rather than a medium within which to socialize. I acknowledge that from a professional point of view, having a venue in which to demonstrate your interests, your outreach, your network, etc. is totally advantageous. Would I opt to use the tool in exclusively this way rather than others? For the time being, I say no.

For the time being, I have told myself that I will not censor my tweets for the sake of the people who might see them. I swear, I say ditzy things, I tweet during work, I insult schools of thought I am “supposed” to support. Sometimes when I think about the way @Buajitti looks, I am mortified, and wonder about who might have read through my Twitter and subsequently thought less of me.

What I tell myself is that if people are going to examine my social habits, they should be ready to see me doing my thang. That I shouldn’t have to talk like a square just because I’m in the public eye. That my twitter account is a space of my personal leisure that people visit willingly, and so shouldn’t that retain some genre of freedom for me. Is this an entitled perspective? Reading over this paragraph, it really sounds that way. I’m not sure yet.  If I were to even call this an argument, there would definitely be holes in it.

The truth is: every time I try to reason around my activity within Twitter, I get so overwhelmed by the quickly blurring distinction bewteen public and private (cue Arendt). You can’t expect privacy with a public account, but you are using this public venue to carry out activity that once took place in the so-called private sphere. Clearly, the private and public have been mingling for some time now, but I think the prevalence of social media raises new questions about how we define these spheres, and the behavioural expectations we’ve attached to these definitions.  Do we need a new taxonomy? I don’t know. I do wish that people could let loose though.

Down with the Twitter Follow-Cats

Friday, August 10th, 2012


Is there a word for looking at a person’s “Following” list on Twitter and then copying a bunch of their follows? I really don’t think so, but it most definitely is a thing — a thing that feels totally unjust, and maybe even flirts with plagiarism or some new-age form of identity theft. Yes, I know I sound totally neurotic and territorial, but this behaviour seriously irks me.

Why? Let me make myself sound even more uptight:

I’d like to think that I take following seriously. I follow people/organizations that I genuinely want to hear from, and I put an effort into maintaining a newsfeed that is manageable (i.e. not so huge that I can never read the things that half(+) the people in my feed are talking about).


For this reason, I am bothered by people who speed/mass-follow, especially when it seems as though they are doing so for the sake of:

1)  demonstrating a repertoire of “cultured” tastes


2) scoring a symbolic mutual-follow relationship via the #Followback train


Yes, I like to eat at the Hintonburger, but I don’t want tweets about their milkshakes, so I’m not going to follow them just to show people that I am affiliated with that community or foodie enough to know about the restaurant.

In terms of gaining followers, or having a person/organization you admire follow you back, sure it feels good. But what does it really mean to be followed? The symbolism* of the follow is so ambiguously loaded and overrated, that I believe we must look elsewhere to assess our relationships within Twitter.

To where is an important question, but one for another day. If we return to the context of follow plagiarism, I think we can now imagine the ways in which this behaviour might come off as superficial, nouveau riche, and, at times, spam-like.

Of course, we must acknowledge the benefits of being able to “spread awareness” within Twitter’s platform. On a daily basis, Twitter allows us to hear about people and things we never would have. It can easily be argued that follow-plagiarism is merely a sign of successfully disseminated information. We must ask ourselves, though, what we are choosing to do with this abundance of information. Are we decorating ourselves with it more than we consume it?

*My use of the term “symbolism” is heavily influenced by Bourdieu‘s concept of “symbolic capital