I like twitter. A lot. As time goes by I use it more and more. Netiquette on twitter is more specialist than on the rest of the web, due to the restriction on the amount of information that can be posted there in any one message. For those who want to make longer points, there is TwitLonger and there is blogging. You’d don’t have to have a groovy self-hosted blog with its own theme like mine – there are any number of standard issue free accounts out there.
Both twitter and blogs are free for the world to view. Both can be searched and linked to easily. It’s important to remember that whatever is published can be and probably is archived somewhere for other people to read. Long after you’ve forgotten about it. With such a severe size limitation on twitter, the usual nuances of writing, which emphasise the emotional content, tend to get lost. Emoticons and other grammatical symbols are used much more frequently than in other media, to overcome this problem. This is not always successful. The trick to these types of public conversations is to always remember that someone you don’t know is going to read it. If you’re not happy with your employers (present and future), the police, a lawyer whose client is out to get you, your neighbour, your future grandchildren, a journalist etc., reading it, then don’t write it.
There are plenty peoples in this world whose culture don’t do irony. That is but one example of how easy it is to be misunderstood. As a general rule, sarcasm and other forms of subtle humour have to be made very clear if they are to be used.
This morning I picked up some tweets directed to my attention from an old friend’s girlfriend. They were not part of a conversational thread (according to tweetdeck); in other words, they were not ‘replies’ to specific tweets of mine. Three tweets making one point in respect of my recent campaigning against the English Defence League‘s visit to Brighton on Sunday. (For example, see my post on the Conservatives failing to oppose racism.) These tweets appeared to lecture me on human rights law. The twitterer in question didn’t seem to have read my three recent posts on the subject here. In fairness to her, her twitter account is locked down so that she has to approve you as a follower. Some people do this in the belief that it means that their tweets remain private. In fact, it prevents casual discovery but anyone who is upset by someone operating a locked down account can easily reveal their views to the world. Here are the tweets which upset me this morning (with her name obscured to protect her privacy):
There seems to be a practice on twitter of simply using another tweet if the twitterer cannot constrain their point to 140 characters. There can’t be a hard and fast rule about this. Sometimes it seems to be unavoidable. However, very often it comes across as hectoring. It can even border on being spammy. Please don’t do this. I sometimes block people who do this to me.
Having worked for years as a law reporter, I have become reasonably good at sticking to a size limit. Others may not be so skilled. When I want to write longer, which is very often, I blog instead and then tweet a link to the post I’ve written. WordPress blogs are open source and free. There’s an excellent WordPress blog app for smartphones.
Unfortunately, I fell into the same trap by sending three tweets to her::
read my blog posts on the subject. Have made their rights clear. Human rights to free speech do not grant rights to hate crimes.
Strongly suggest you research facts. #EDL’s various forums repeatedly and persisently share identical views to Breivik.
Finally, I don’t appreciate lectures in human rights law via twitter. When a law reporter, I digested 50,000 ECHR judgements.
Here’s her reply:
This is getting dangerously close to a tit for tat battle. I’m not in the mood, frankly, for being bombarded with sarcasm on twitter. Now and then is okay but this method of extended tweeting is not.
I’m quite capable of being sarcastic myself. I’ve definitely employed it when deconstructing one or two people. Here’s one of my woo take downs of a “freeman on the land” in Occupy London. Hang on, didn’t I just muddle up sarcasm with satire?