People complain a lot about the ills of social media, and there’s a lot of legitimacy to those complaints. The ridiculousness and grandstanding that has taken over the platform has ran some people away (ask our own Ron and Dee). But for those of you that still peruse Twitter you’ll eventually see a tweet like this:
The longing for days gone by seems to be a natural human emotion. Baby Boomers lament about how Millennials don’t do the things that they used to do and how the world has changed so much. We (Millennials) will spend every dime we have on a rehash/spin on something we grew up with in the 80s and 90s. It’s cyclical and will continue until the world ends (which according to the UN would be 22 years from now).
But Twitter today is VASTLY different than it was 5 or 6 years ago. The conversations are different, the interactions are different, and the wide reaching effects are different. I remember when Twitter was laughed at simply because the concept of it seemed so useless, my cousin even showed me an Andy Milanokis video that poked fun of the concept itself:
Eventually people saw the possibilities of what the website could be, and despite there being a large amount of people just tweeting about their day to day activities, communities began to form. People began using the hashtags to share common experiences or watch Awards Shows together and crack jokes with strangers, eventually extending the brand of #BlackTwitter outside of the Twittersphere itself. Black Twitter became a bit of an influence in popular culture, and it wasn’t that Black Twitter was this brilliant new creative mind, it was a collection of experiences, thoughts, and jokes from members of a linked community.
Things weren’t perfect though, and I’m not trying to wax nostalgic even though that’s what the first 250 words of this post seem to say (thank God it’s ending soon). There were a lot of problems with the wild west that was the early days of Twitter, and those things would be attacked directly within the coming years.
As word of Black Twitter expanded and more people flocked to the platform to see what it was really about. As more people jumped into the circle, a lot of them were miffed by the humor and “Rules” of the place so to speak. The wild west of Twitter “worked” because those who participated were under the agreement that anyone was fair game, no matter what. Virtually nothing was off limits. You can see where I’m going here.
This shift started happening around 2013, specifically around the time that Robin Thicke released “Blurred Lines”, a song that has since gotten him into a lot of hot water. The song received a bit of a slapping from a newly awakened generation: one that realized that social media could be used to amplify movements as much as it amplified comedy. Thicke’s hit came under scrutiny after Tricia Romano of “The Daily Beast” wrote an opinion piece about how the song “trivializes rape culture”. The thought and idea began to pick up steam and before we knew it, the tides had completely turned on a song that now is only played by your aunts and uncles to start linedancing to during holiday cookouts.
I’m not going to debate the validity of Romano’s claims (it’s bull**** and nitpicky) even though I do agree that rap downplays consent A LOT and that rape culture needs to be addressed and handled with a swiftness (see: how we all got on Ross for that U.O.E.N.O verse, and then forgot about it 5 years later). What I AM going to mention is just how quickly the masses turned on that song and Robin Thicke himself. It’s actually a miracle that T.I. and Pharrell came out unscathed. One of the biggest problems with Twitter that was sort of started by this moment in time was the mass mob mentality and the “I’m right, you’re wrong, there is no debate.”
The app eventually just became people finding something to poke a hole in or observe with people either agreeing in unison or vehemently disagreeing whether it was logical or not. There would be no sane discussion, only name-calling and a measuring of thesauruses that further resulted in blocks and mutes. We were no longer laughing about $200 dates, we were calling people problematic for requiring them, or dissecting how someone who required XYZ is mentally unstable and in need of therapy. It’s not just the conversations that have changed, but the way we have them. Disagreement doesn’t happen, nuance doesn’t exist.
It’s easy to get sucked into a world where everyone agrees with you, and while I’m of the belief that damn near everything is open to interpretation, I also believe there are things that I’m not budging on. Because of this, I know there are things that other people aren’t budging on either. As you surround yourself with people who have similar mentalities, your willingness to deviate from those things increases. It’s one thing to not want to deviate from the belief that everyone: regardless of race, sexual identity (pedophilia is not a sexuality), gender identity, etc., has the right to exist and be treated FAIRLY. It’s another thing to believe that women are soul-sucking, money grubbers who don’t care for men, or that any man is entitled to any woman’s mind or body. Those two factions present clear rights and clear wrongs.
It’s NOT okay to label someone as what the hell ever simply because they don’t like your favorite artist or feel the EXACT same way that you do about gentrification. It’s okay to talk it out.
It’s also important to note that not everyone has the same experiences. Your normal is someone else’s taboo, and yes, it is on you to explain that bit of the culture to them without attacking them. You can address ignorance on a subject by teaching and not by belittling and yelling. Overzealous Christians push people away from Christianity. You can replace Christians/Christianity with anything you damn well please.
Talk to people. Not @ them.