I have never been a massive fan of groupthink. I feel it makes us lazy as we leave the heavy lifting of original thought to other people and as a result, ideas can be short-sighted, lack perspective, and often are illogical.
Twitter, one of the three major social media apps, is without a doubt a fantastic way to connect with other people around the world to spread information, promote businesses, and engage in critical social discussions. Users can publish or “tweet” out their ideas in short blurbs, or re-tweet the opinions and views of others. Twitter is different from other social media platforms in that you could see a tweet from a person you don’t follow because it was retweeted by someone you do follow. Although you are likely to see tweets that don’t particularly agree with, your timeline is a product of your creation, thus the nature of what is known as Black Twitter.
Although Twitter was created to connect different people around the world, users usually follow people they are already familiar with. For example, I would say that about 85% of the people I follow are friends and peers from high school and college, and taking into account of where I am from and what schools I attended the majority of my timeline is Black (not I don’t know any white people). For the most part, the people I follow have the same criteria for the people they follow, so it is no surprise that I am a part of the Black Twitter community.
Over the years, I have witnessed Black Twitter do some great things by using the power it possesses to move culture in a direction it wants. As Charlamagne Tha God often states, “we control the cool.” I have seen shows get picked back up after they were canceled, businesses successfully launched by regular people, and most importantly social issues have been given the attention they deserve.
That being said, there are a few reasons within these positive effects that make Black Twitter, dare I say, problematic.
Now I won’t front I have undoubtedly contributed to some of these issues in the past but as of late, even with all the good Black Twitter has done, the following have ruined the experience for me.
The spread of misinformation is horrifying
This is certainly not exclusive to Black Twitter. Fake news is a household term because it happens everywhere on almost every platform. However, as black people, we do not have the same luxuries as our counterparts to follow and disseminate the wrong information. Twitter should never replace research or logic for that matter. We must see past the pseudo-professors and read on our own to draw our conclusions. It is imperative that we stop looking at tweets with wrong information, then running and create an entire narrative to fit what we want to be true.
We reach a lot
I loathe racism and systematic oppression. I do my best to get equipped with the best information possible to protect myself as best as I can. I also would consider myself “conscious” when it comes to understanding many of the events that take place, and the laws that are in effect to keep Black people down. I would be remised if I didn’t say that some of the issues Black Twitter takes on to rally against aren’t what they make them out to be. This goes back to only reading headlines of articles and not the full story. The headline is supposed to grab your attention and force you to read, but most times users don’t get that far because they choose not to. We also conflate issues that have nothing to do with the other to fit our own beliefs. Let’s stop reaching for what isn’t there.
The gender wars are tired
It’s like every other day I go on Twitter to only see yet another debate about who should pay for what in a relationship, or how much an engagement ring should cost, or if sex on a first date is acceptable. It’s hilarious to think that in 2018 people wholeheartedly feel their way of thinking is the only correct way to live. Let’s grow up and let people live their lives how they want to live them. Debating someone for his or her opinion is a waste of energy, and makes you look just as crazy as you think they are.
Shaming has replaced teaching
Socrates said, “I know that I know nothing.” A person’s ignorance shouldn’t be condemned, Black or white. It isn’t cool is when a person is publically humiliated for not getting a date right, or a misspelled word, or misquoting someone. Instead, let’s help the person understand and not pretend we always had that knowledge. Recommend an article or a book that will provide the information that the person needs, without making them look foolish in the process.
I have just recently discovered I can mute certain words from my timeline; I am a little upset because I would’ve done it a long time ago. The media uses buzzwords to invoke certain emotions from their viewers to get the desired response. Black Twitter is no different. People use buzzwords like problematic, hotep, or coon as a defense mechanism when they don’t agree with a person or idea. It is aimed to discredit and shut down any idea they don’t like. Name-calling is childish and if you don’t have a foundation to stand on in a debate, quietly exit.
It’s fair to say that these issues are in every community on Twitter, and you may be correct, but I am just speaking on my problems in the Twitter community I am a part of, but I can’t speak on something I have no clue about. Our community go in on white people when they don’t have a basic understanding of what white supremely is because almost everyone has a computer in their pocket and can look up information when they need it. However, if they only are around people like them, who share their same ideas, it is easy for them to live in their world. Black Twitter is proof that in 2018 with all the technology, and information at our fingertips someone could still live in a bubble of their own creation.
Malcom X. Bowser is a writer, curator, and founder of Urban X.