Ask not what’s wrong with Twitter…
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
Matthew 7: 3-5
What’s wrong with Twitter?
Nothing. Not a damn thing. Twitter does what it does brilliantly and I for one am jolly grateful. There are few better ways to communicate with large numbers of Twitter followers or people; if you have something worth saying, it will find an audience. The draw back is the 140 character limit – it’s often lamented that scope for nuanced discussion is limited. And it is, but this gap is admirably plugged with blogging. Twitter + blogging is an incredibly powerful communication tool and one which John Tomsett claims might bring about an Education Spring. I wrote a homage to Twitter at the beginning of the year and I haven’t changed my mind since.
So why is it that Twitter comes in for periodic flak? Why do so many influential educators complain about what twitter doesn’t do rather than celebrating what it does? It’s tempting to dismiss such moaning with the truism that you get out what you put in. If you’re not getting much out of Twitter then maybe the quality of your contribution is somewhat lacking? Recently various ‘tweachers’ have been bemoaning the fact that debate on Twitter seems to focus on deriding the ideas of others. And that it’s crammed with gurning egoists only interested in grandstanding and self-promotion. Have they got a point? Well, heck, if you look for it, you’ll find it. I’ve even done a bit of deriding & gurning myself – sometimes such derision is amusing, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes I get a bit hot under the collar at the obviously wrong-headed opinions of those who fail to see the flawless logic and unassailable reason of my own positions. And there have been times (although hopefully few and far between) when I’ve RTed compliments, thinly veiling such activity as ‘sharing’. As a result, sometimes I, and others, compose tweets which are a little ill-advised. But you know what? I don’t have to. I don’t have to read anything that anyone else writes and they don’t have to read any of my outpourings either. There is an off button.
If there’s someone on Twitter you find irritating, don’t follow them. If this really get your goat, block ’em. If there are blogs you find tiresome, offensively self-congratulatory or badly argued, don’t read ’em. It’s all a matter of choice. But, I do choose to listen to folk I don’t agree with cos, you know, maybe they have a point sometimes; maybe they’re not completely out there all the time. If they happen to be saying something particularly witless on any given day, I can just tune them out.
I can’t tell you how witless, boring and hypocritical it is to carp and complain about other people’s negativity: if you’re unhappy with your experience of Twitter (or anything else really) have a good look at yourself. What are you contributing? Could there be a plank in your own eye? As Gandhi may have said to Socrates and Einstein over a pint: Be the change you want to see in the world.
So, next time you find your gorge rising, try one of these idiot proof suggestions:
- Chuckle indulgently and remember that you too have behaved foolishly in the past.
- Rise above it by writing something positive and constructive.
- And if all else fails, put down your phone, walk away from your computer and do something else.
OK, rant over. As you were.
PS – If you attempt to argue that this post is a failure to follow my own advice, you really need to reread it carefully. If you’re still not happy, let me know and I’ll happily unfollow you.