I have to admit, I was bearish on Twitter for a long time. I only came to really appreciate the platform in the past few years.
But I don’t appreciate it the way it is used. I appreciate the potential and what is hinted at. I really hate all the vitriol. The hate that comes down when you post something tagged in a way that lures the trolls. I admit, sometimes I pick fights back, but for the most part you have to ignore the noise. I think what I hate most is the fact that the Twitter Trolls just exemplify all of the worst traits of humanity.
Take this tweet I posted. Genuinely, I thought it was funny that Kim Jong Un found an English word that almost no one (including me) ever used. I respect that. That is the same as I respect Trump’s simplistic use of Doublespeak and derogatory nicknames to lure in fans who can’t think beyond the complexity of arguing a policy with trash talking. Here, he got out trashed. “Dotard” beats “rocket man” any day. Am I using incendiary language to talk about our orange fatty president? Sure. But he IS orange and fat! I didn’t say he doesn’t love America.
But of course the specificity of my “respect” gets lost in a world of ‘gotcha’ journalism. Because I used the word “respect” and the enemy’s name together, clearly I must be an enemy of this country and a traitor worthy of hanging (before you quote that line, it is sarcasm). Those that sought out my tweet and felt the need to reply, must certainly agree. I even pointed out that their boy Trump says that he has “respect” for Putin. They don’t get it.
I guess I find it most amusing that they accuse me of all people of being a liberal democrat, when Trump legitimately was one. Whatever.
I also agree that Twitter quips are kind of silly and don’t add any real value to the platform, yet I still use them too.
But what I like about Twitter is the potential to become a news gathering platform. Boiling an individual fact down to 140 chars is a great way to turn news and observations about the world into structured data. From there at the very least, news commentators could all start with the same set of facts. The problem, of course, is in weighing the validity of each fact.
And here is where I think Twitter is going wrong. I liked when they started certifying users as being the real person they are. It was great for influencers to get official cred on the platform. Certifying the data (who the poster really is) was the right trend. But this 280 character thing is a waste of their development efforts. 140 is fine for a fact. All this does is enable people to be wordy and waste my time. I would much rather categories be applied to tweets so we could start to verify those categories (Fact, Opinion, I-Heard-From-Someone). I would also like to classify context (Eyewitness, Interpretation, Recalled-Event). Adding columns to the data would make filtering a much more straightforward process when searching for information.
No one at Twitter is going to care what I think. And I doubt I will continue keeping within 140 chars. But I still have hope that Twitter and even the trolls will evolve. Maybe I just need to double my hope.