Expat Magazine

How to Lose Friends on Twitter

By Expatmum @tonihargis
I came relatively late to Twitter; couldn't see the point, just one more "thing" to have to keep up with, etc. etc. I must admit, although I don't go on every day, and don't usually have it up (if you'll pardon the expression) all the time, it is quite amusing, and occasionally there are interesting links to be found. As usual however, I always miss the big Tweet fights, even though I follow some of the people involved.
I relish a good debate, but there's something about "online fights" that really repulses me. We all know that the written word (especially when limited to 140 characters or so) is not a reliable form of communication. It's all too easy to read between lines that aren't there at all, or to attribute meaness/agression etc. when it isn't intended. I have seen a few fighs erupt in a matter of seconds over something that was totally misconstrued. It's very hard to go back once you've added insult to your counter-argument, which is what many people do. Not satisfied with pointing out that the other person didn't read the original tweet correctly, some people feel obliged to add the inveitable hashtag -#imbecile, #moron #learntoread or worse. (And if social media has made bullies out of people, the hashtag has added the passive aggressive element, in my opinion.)
Anyway, this morning I got into my own little Twitter bitch fest. Or rather, I didn't because I immediately unfollowed her, even though she apologised for what she'd said. (Don't worry - there's no way she'd be reading this, so this isn't my personal piece of passive aggression thinly described as a blog post.)
We both have blogs on the same web site, kind of like Brit Mums, but not (before anyone starts trying to guess). I haven't met her and only recently started following her, as we do over there, as a sign of support for each other. She tweeted something about the upcoming payroll tax hikes in the USA, saying that $40 per year increase is a gym membership to some people, that they would have to forego this, and that this would add to obesity levels in the USA. (Not verbatim obviously, I was way over the allowed character numbers there.)  Now, it always surprises me that gym memberships are seen as a necessity over here, when those same people eat portions that should last them two days and never walk if they can sit in a car or, in Chicago, get on a bus.  So I Tweeted back "Have to get off the bus and walk a few stops" #obesity.
Her reply? And I quote - Apparently you did not get that I was referring to America and not myself. So suck on your insults. #ApparentlyyouareaRepulican
Can you believe that? She half knows me yet chooses to address me like that. She assumes that I can't read a tweet that says "Americans" in the sentence. She assumes that my manners are as base as hers and that I would dare tell an individual to get off the bus and walk, then call her obese in the hashtag. I don't even know what she looks like.
I replied thus - "It was obvious you were speaking of the nation as a whole, as was I. I am not like that. Shall now unfollow." She had the grace (?) to respond with - "Sorry but thought that was directed at me".
Too little too late, mate. Even if you did think it was directed at you, leave the insults until you know for sure, if you  must descend to that level at all.
So I have unfollowed her. I always Tweet with the intention of talking to others the way I would if they were standing in front of me. Likewise, if someone were to insult me to my face, I would walk away and keep well away in the future. I don't mix with that type in real life and I make no exceptions on the web.
And d'you know what pee'd me off the most?
She called me a Republican.

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