Maggie Enters the World of Twitter

As can be seen above and on the sidebar of this blog, I have officially entered the world of Twitter. I’ve had a neglected personal account for a while, but I can’t say I really understood the purpose of microblogging or the possibilities behind such a tool until recently. Like many, I labelled Twitter as some silly modern tech widget that would die out quickly. As can be seen, however, the microblogging service reported a record of 4 billion tweets during the first quarter of 2010. Who knew such a simple service would take off so well?

It was through renewed attention to my personal Twitter account – thanks to the security issues facing Facebook currently – that I realised just how useful Twitter could be for social justice writers and activists online. I followed a bunch of bloggers and agencies on my Twitter account and I was suddenly bombarded with links to interesting articles, events and volunteer opportunities. I learned about things that I could have easily missed on a normal blog simply because Twitter allows you a quick overview of what’s going on with your followers without scrolling past long posts or checking secondary pages. Furthermore, as a blogger, you see so many interesting and important articles and pieces of news that you want to share with your readers, but it’s impossible to write about everything you see. Twitter offers writers a chance simply to share what others have said. Twitter can also be used as a call to action, where people can share knowledge of upcoming events or requests for help. In short, Twitter is a hell of a lot more useful than I ever initially expected.

I added a Twitter to this blog because I tend to be a slow writer, but I am a very rapid consumer of media online. I read far more than I know I will ever write about, so I want to share what I find with others. Plus it’s a lot easier to deal with a Twitter feed than Facebook where you need to wade through all those Farmville updates… In any case, expect to see this Twitter feed updated several times a week and further social justice accounts followed. Feel free to suggest interesting people in the comments!

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A Spot of Advice for Commenters in the Blogosphere

Dear commenters on the internet,

The internet is full of wonderful things and mountains upon mountains of articles that you can read and learn from. No matter who you are, you can always find something that will suit your personal preferences. However, you will also find many things that will take you outside of your comfort zone. To be prudent, therefore, you should think before you post responses.

This advice is particularly important when you have no experience in the topic being discussed. That is not to say that you should never engage in conversations that are difficult for you, but sometimes the best involvement is silence. For example, say you stumble across a piece of writing on sex workers. If you are not a sex worker, then perhaps you should not tell one what they should be feeling in any particular situation. You should be listening. You should be learning. Not all discussions need your voice and you are benefiting no one when you explode without thinking, including yourself.

For instance, I like to explore and read about trans issues since they come up frequently in my blog circles. However, being a cisgendered person with no trans friends, all of my experience with the topic comes from the internet. Sometimes what I see inspires confusion and knee-jerk reactions from myself. However, part of understanding my privileges comes from my ability to step back and allow myself time to absorb, digest and analyse what I have just read.
Sometimes, even with time, you may never truly understand a subject. Since my experience with trans issues has not evolved past the internet, I can only intellectualize the concepts. Since I can only intellectualize them, the anger and rage that is expressed by trans people is understandable to me only by comparing it to my own anger and rage. However, the situations are not the same. I cannot necessarily juxtapose my lessons onto their lives.

So the lesson is that sometimes it is better just to shut up and be quiet. You don’t always have to add to the discussion. You don’t always have to understand. It isn’t always about you. Sometimes you are not and will never be a part of someone’s story. Maybe your righteous indignation is an opportunity to educate yourself rather than to “teach” others.

Sincerely,

A blog reader who is really damn sick of seeing people go utterly stark raving mad in comment threads on things that they know nothing about