Once everyone was on Twitter, everyone’s problems were on Twitter. The early adopters might have been tech-utopians, but the succeeding waves were angry cynics and partisan cranks who used the technology to make the world even louder and worse than it was before Twitter.
Compounding the problem is that — unlike everyone else — if you work in journalism, you can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave. Being on Twitter is now part of the job, meaning that you can’t not be on Twitter. What was once an inspiring place that gave you a competitive advantage became a prison.
Twitter has become like high school, where the mean kids say something hurtful to boost their self-esteem and to see if others will laugh and join in. Aside from trolling for victims after some tragedy, Twitter isn’t used for reporting much anymore. But it is used for snark.
It certainly was used for snark about Lewis’ post, perhaps proving his point:
I can tell you one thing, Twitter became better for me when I finally unfollowed Matt Lewis.
— RB (@RBPundit) January 30, 2013
I think Matt Lewis uses the Daily Caller for his personal therapy. I feel, I hate, I’m sad, he’s mean……
— Heather (@hmfearny) January 30, 2013
Sad part is even though we early birds have already been subjected to Matt Lewis’s tears this AM, it’ll cycle a coupla more times today.
— Cuffé (@CuffyMeh) January 30, 2013
If Matt Lewis’s latest piece isn’t textbook concern-trolling, I don’t know what is. Almost as if he expected it to be discussed…on Twitter
— Jacob Perry (@jacobperry) January 30, 2013
Some thoughtful reaction:
I sympathize with what Matt Lewis is saying here about Twitter, but wouldn’t this apply to every internet thing ever? theweek.com/bullpen/column…
— Mathew Ingram (@mathewi) January 30, 2013
— Andrew Knoblauch (@AndrewKnoblauch) January 30, 2013
Choire Sicha elaborates on that fact:
Whenever someone writes one of these screeds, they have to ignore that Twitter is entirely self-selecting. You chose who to follow. You chose to behave like a jerk, or a needy child, or a boor. Twitter didn’t make you an ass. Twitter gave you an opportunity to exhibit your lack of impulse control. … Twitter gave us all a chance to prove to again that sometimes we have no boundaries. So if you can’t simply unfollow people you don’t care about, or block people that gross you out, you need to go back to therapy. Twitter is almost entirely a projected fantasy life of people you think or wish were your friends and your society.
Related: “Are Journalists Joking Too Much On Twitter?” (The Huffington Post)