Doing Twitter Wrong

I’ve been blocked again. My crime was apparently “being annoying.” Which, well … yeah. I have a perma-crink in my neck from all of the navel gazing and pondering. Some people knit. I tweet.

Being blocked always makes my heart skip a beat. I view blocking as a tool to stop abuse. So when I discovered someone took the steps needed to block my account, I looked over my tweets for offensive, racist, sexist, threatening, violent words – all of those things that violate the whole “be a decent human being” code of conduct, as it were. What I see in my tweets is a severe case of last-worditis. I see repeated patterns of “yeah, but….” I don’t see my words as offensive, racist, sexist, threatening, or aggressive. My hunch is those who blocked me didn’t feel offended, hurt, or worried for their safety.

They do though, I suspect, feel annoyed by my presence in their mentions. I freely recognize that no one is obliged to engage with me, to not block me, or otherwise participate in my ponderings. But still I wonder: why block? Why not mute?

So I have to infer I’m bad at Twitter. Sometimes. I  knowingly hit “Tweet” when I know the words – in the absence of facial and verbal cues – are likely to be read in a way I did not intend them. But I’m working on it.

I no longer “@” someone who isn’t directly a part of the conversation and drag them into an exchange they may not want to be in. I also avoid tagging a third party unless I want to draw a second person’s attention to their account.

If someone in a multi-person conversation hasn’t responded within two tweets, I remove their handle from the thread. If there is a multi-person tweet, I make sure I attach my response to the right person, moving all other names to the end of my tweet.

If I’m getting a sense there’s a misunderstanding – and we follow each other – I’ll use DM to be sure I understand. I try to attend to the backfire effect. I’ll come here to post in longer form if it makes sense.

I’ve become hyperconscious of hashtag etiquette and making sure I use them correctly.

I’m trying to get better but apparently, I’m still bad at Twitter.

I wrote about this once before, got some great feedback and a lesson in sealioning, and then pulled the post down. I was still learning and there’s some language in that post I regret. And to be clear, I regret some tweets I’ve sent. I’ve apologized directly when I could, sent a message to the universe when I couldn’t. In the cases where I have literally no idea why a semi-famous person blocked me because I’ve never sent a tweet to them in my life and only discovered they blocked me when I went to RT a RT, I don’t have imaginary conversations with them while I’m driving. Nope.

The most frustrating part for me is that I know I have a lot to learn from those who block me and vice versa. (Quick shout out those who have tweeted to me “You’re not interested in learning. You just want to be right.” You get to have your own special imaginary conversation with me. Usually when I’m stuck in traffic.)

Being blocked – and knowing it’s because you’re annoying NOT because you were abusive or abrasive or offensive – is an odd thing, in a vaguely reminiscent-of-middle-school way. Part of me wants to start an #UnblockJenn campaign and persuade those who blocked me to engage in discourse until… well, until we talk ourselves out. The other part of me is fairly confident I need a new hobby. While those parts battle it out, I’m going to continue to reflect on what it means to be good at Twitter. What it means to be good at discourse in an asynchronous environment and try to reconcile how educators can model the best and worst between disagreeing adults.



6 thoughts on “Doing Twitter Wrong”

  1. When I was still on Twitter, you were one of my favorite people to follow. Always insightful, and more nuanced than I thought possible in 140 characters. I’m grateful that you have a blog now, so that I can continue to learn from you.

  2. This is a great post. I have run into similar situations. And I can relate to the car conversations you speak of. I appreciate knowing that I am not alone.

    As for your #UnBlockJenn idea, recently a sports talk show host Bomani Jones started a segment called #unblockmeBo where people tweet why they should be unblocked on Twitter from him. The lucky winner gets to plead their case via tweets which are then read on air. I’m not sure how well this relates now that I’ve typed it out other than it seemed relevant when I began commenting. Oh well, I hope it’s at least entertaining.


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