Are We All Just Talking To Ourselves?

I have been on Twitter for a while now, long enough to feel both the addictive exhilaration of being connected to a hive of ever-present activity, and the insidious anxiety inherent in walking on eggshells, knowing that even the smallest disagreement can erupt uncontrollably and without apparent warning.

I have been blocked by people simply for favoriting an unpopular Tweet. I have lost followers in an argument over cake. (Well, technically, it wasn’t really about cake — it was about equal treatment for all — but that is another story).

What I am trying to say is Twitter is a very fragile ecosystem.  Tentative alliances form, based on shared interests/ideas, only to be shattered irreparably by inevitable misunderstandings and disagreements.

Someone suggested that we all should just mute (or block, a harsher “punishment”) everyone that we find annoying or offensive. And sure, those are always possible options.

But, really, how wise is that, looking at the big picture? Just because we mute or block someone doesn’t mean they or their opinions change; it just means we now have blinded ourselves to opposing viewpoints. We become further entrenched in our own opinions,  which we then talk about ad nauseam to the very people who already hold the same opinion. Group-think at it’s finest; also known as “preaching to the choir”. Pretending that the world is a safe, encapsulated bubble free from the peskiness of other peoples’ perceived idiocy.

Twitter-balance isn’t easy, it is often like walking a tightrope in stilettos. For example, I was criticized last night for not aggressively engaging in an argument regarding butches wearing dresses (answer: they don’t!). I thought I had stated my opinion clearly, but I was accused, in no uncertain terms,  of “always wimping out” when it comes to arguing on Twitter.

The accusation really stung,  but after consideration, I have to admit there is some truth to it. I am a shy, reserved, quiet person by nature. Arguing in any form is neither my preference nor my forte. So, while I will consistently state and maintain my stance, it is a very rare occurrence for me to all-out fight or to be what I would consider unnecessarily rude to others. “Pick your battles” is my motto, in life and on Twitter.

Some battles are worth fighting, of course. And some people (those who are abusive, threatening, etc.) certainly do  deserve to be muted or blocked.

The trick is discerning the difference between discussing and attacking, between assertiveness and aggression, and between listening and dismissing, in an ever-changing, fast-paced, highly-emotionally-charged environment.

Here’s the thing: why are we on Twitter anyway?  I like to think it is to communicate, to connect, to learn from each other. The only way to truly do that is to be open to actually listening to each other, rather than immediately and universally dismissing, annihilating, muting, and/or blocking.

If our only actions to conflicting opinions are dismissing,  annihilating, arguing, muting and/or blocking, how can any of us really ever hear each other?

Are we all just talking to ourselves?

Updated to Add: 06/28/2017: Since this post, I have updated my own policy on blocking on Twitter. I used to reserve blocking for only the most serious of circumstances (threats, perverts, etc.); however, now, I do block when someone is outright rude/disrespectful, and/or when it becomes obvious that the person has absolutely no interest in actually having a reciprocal discussion (if he/she only wants to lecture/accuse/berate/argue and refuses to listen to what I am saying). I will also block those who have blocked me now, for the simple reason of “back at ya!”. There are other instances where I may block, but those are the basics. I have learned that sometimes it is best to just get rid of the negativity and to pick my battles even more carefully than I typically do. I am also more willing/likely to get into an all-out brawl and I have been rude on much more than one occasion now. I have mixed feelings about these updates, but I have learned that there is a limit to my patience.

8 thoughts on “Are We All Just Talking To Ourselves?

  1. It’s an extraordinary world isn’t it, that we co-create on there? You put it so well here. I am often reflecting on all our choices in what we do and don’t communicate and how this reflects on us more widely. Muting and blocking seems a lot like silencing to me, and so I feel very conscious of it, and also fearful sometimes of what might come my way, as well as worried about the potential impact of my communications, both in play and in seriousness (not that play and seriousness can be neatly divided either). To take care of myself, if feelings are running high in exchanges, particularly if there is a lot of hurt and rage, I do step or stay away. I have to fight an impulse in me to go towards, to reconcile, to mediate, and am learning that this does not always serve me well. But I do also try to proactively engage in dialogue, for all the reasons you say here. it is very difficult to ground and contain ourselves and one another in such a disembodied space. I am also interested in the ways that we humans through social media embody those spaces, like through sharing tea, sharing landscapes, sharing virtual hugs. There is so much scope for play, creativity, weaving, it’s a whole matrix. I think we are fascinating. I think community is fascinating. I really enjoy and feel the gentleness of your presence on there/here too – thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, emilyskyepoet! More food for thought. I agree that sometimes when tensions are high the best thing to do is to turn off the computer and step away, because arguments seem to escalate (too) quickly on Twitter. To make matters worse, it is often difficult to follow the conversations on Twitter, especially if multiple people become involved, so that sets everyone up for more misunderstandings. But despite all the potential angst, I still love Twitter, and have met some very interesting, intelligent, and wonderful people, like you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Resilience | Saye Bennett

  3. Pingback: Just Say No To Subtweeting | Saye Bennett

  4. Pingback: Always A Lesbian | Saye Bennett

  5. I usually block MRA’s and MGTOW’s, although sometimes I find one or another that I can actually engage in a discussion, but this is rare – in my experience. This would include 3rd wave feminists too, who not rarely align with MRA’s and MGTOW’s.
    Usually after the debate starts it’s just two or three comments and it becomes *impossible* to read any further.
    It becomes a disagreement at the essence of the understanding of *reality* itself! 🙂
    In these cases, if there is offensive arguments I not only block but also report spam or offensive language (in YT, etc.).

    I find it very difficult to convince anyone or change anyone’s ideas in Tweeter, unless you’re reporting a link to full a discussion elsewhere, like wordpress, YT, etc., where you can actually express / expose all that you think.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great points…I used to not believe in blocking, except in extreme cases (such as threatening, etc.), but I have since updated my feelings on that. Sometimes, people are intentionally trying to gaslight & create drama; and often people don’t have any intention of discussion, but rather just want to be obnoxious/rude. In those cases…bye! I agree that Twitter makes it difficult or impossible to have a real discussion so best to link to WP or elsewhere with more space to explain!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s