No one anticipates their tweet blowing up. I certainly didn’t. I mostly tweet about music, hockey, chat with friends, retweet memes, articles I like, and utter nonsense. I have a handful of followers and some verified accounts following me, but I’m largely under the radar. When I tweet I don’t really expect a whole lot in the way of engagement, and that’s okay with me!
“Megan, what happened?” you’re probably asking. Or maybe you’re not. I’m not a mind reader, but I’m assuming you’re asking since you’re here!
Margaret Atwood signed a deeply problematic open letter supporting a man accused of predatory behaviour against a STUDENT, so I’m not particularly inclined to be excited about a sequel for The Handmaid’s Tale.
— nutmeg 🎄 (@megancox) November 28, 2018
I tweeted about Margaret Atwood, and how I don’t like her. I don’t like her for a lot of reasons, but the reason I mentioned was her signing a very poorly written and problematic open letter in support of someone accused of sexual assault. (Anthropology professor Zoe Todd gave an excellent interview about the content and language of the letter as well) That’s all! I was very careful about the wording that I used because it was the signing of the letter that I was taking issue with. I’m angry about the whole situation, but that’s not what I wanted to talk about. All I wanted was to say why I wasn’t jazzed about her latest announcement, nothing more.
It was retweeted by a mutual follower of mine, who has a large number of followers and has been extremely vocal against Atwood, and then someone else who also has strong feelings re: Atwood, and at that point it was mostly fine. It was only after it was picked up by the editor of a libertarian website who happens to have 30K+ followers, and who was clearly acting in bad faith and clearly trying to get people to dog pile onto me (and who snitch tagged Atwood) that things began to get a bit out of hand.
I have a pretty laissez-faire attitude toward Twitter, in that I don’t take it seriously at all. Especially when people start coming at me or after me, because they’re clearly just trying to get a rise out of me and aren’t really interested in having a constructive conversation. I learned this a while ago. I just shrug it off and hit the mute button so that they’re essentially just talking (or shouting) into the void. I’m not remotely bothered by it, but it’s kind of hilarious to watch them be bothered by it.
But I learned some things, and I am here today to impart those things, that wisdom, onto you. Because when the tweet in question started blowing up, I looked for guides on how to deal with the situation, and found that there was nothing. At least not that I could find. Granted, I had a pretty good handle on the situation, but it can be a lot and I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a how-to guide on how to handle this?
Well now there is!
It’s going to be okay!
So your tweet is getting a lot of traction, and suddenly your phone screen is filled with nothing but Twitter notifications. Oh dear.
If you’re like me, someone who has a bit of anxiety, this can be stressful. Hell, even if you’re not anxious it can probably be a bit much. But it’s important not to panic. Remember, it’s just Twitter. And I know that’s easy to say, but really, it is just a website. Now, granted it can be a website that is extremely unkind to anyone who isn’t a white male, but your Tweet blowing up isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe it’s a funny tweet and people are just really enjoying it!
For me, I was at work when this happened so it was easy to ignore my phone flashing every couple of seconds on my desk. It was easy for me to go about my day, periodically checking my phone every once in a while to see what the heck was happening. And at first, it was fine! It was mainly just likes and retweets, with the occasional comment – most of them agreeing, or if not, at least civil.
No matter what happens with your tweet, you’re going to be okay. I promise.
And if you are feeling antsy about how much traction your tweet is getting right out of the gate, screaming into the void always works well!
The mute button is your friend!
I’ve honestly gotten so much use out of the mute button the past few days that I’m wondering when it will begin asking for restitution.
When it became clear that the likes and the retweets were unlikely to stop anytime soon, I muted notifications. My phone screen was filled with little else, and considering I was actually trying to use it to talk to people and like photos of dogs on Instagram, it was becoming distracting. Anything I was actually looking for in my notifications (like a response from a friend to a conversation that we were having) was getting lost in the shuffle.
Then, I muted the actual conversation. I personally felt better just not knowing who was commenting and when. If I wanted to, later I would sit down and actually go through some of them.
Then, I started muting accounts, which was probably the most satisfying thing.
I prefer muting to blocking, unless someone says or does something particularly awful. My favourite thing about muting is that the person (or bot) who has been muted has no idea that they’ve been muted. They’ll continue shouting into the void, meanwhile you’re none the wiser, going about your day while they keep responding to your tweets.
My boyfriend found someone who commented on a few of my other tweets, getting increasingly enraged, and it was certainly amusing to witness how frustrated this person was getting about me not replying to them. Dude, get a life.
Look at dogs!
Dogs are awesome. There’s a reason that my Instagram is basically a dog account following machine.
Looking at their sweet little faces will make you feel better and make you forget about the person who just came into your mentions to suggest that you should be raped. 🙂
You’re allowed to not engage!
I know that it’s tempting to clap back at someone who has decided to call you a feminazi, or the c-word, or any other slew of insults that they decide to hurl your way. It’s tempting to want to clarify your point, because someone just isn’t getting it, even though Twitter is a terrible place to have an actual discussion about anything.
I’d decided early on that I wasn’t replying to people anymore. I didn’t owe it to anyone, I didn’t tweet what I did to invite all of that into my life. I didn’t respond to people who were being nasty, but I also started to not respond to people who were agreeing with me or standing up for me or my original point either. I had replied to my friends who had commented, those first few strangers who wandered into my mentions, but that was it.
Naturally, this made some people angry. I had made this tweet, why was I not responding to anyone?
Because I don’t have to, I don’t need to.
The point that I will make here again and again is that a lot of people aren’t actually interested in having a constructive conversation with you and are simply acting in bad faith. They want to be mad on the internet, and have decided that you are going to be on the receiving end of that for whatever reason.
There were people who made really good points in response to my tweet, but I didn’t engage with them either. Why? Because I have a life. I have a full time job, I have chores and errands to do. I need to make supper, I need to work on my novel, and I want to cuddle with my boyfriend on the couch. I do not see the point in engaging with a stranger for a chunk of my day, when I will be required to do 15 minutes of research in order to get my point across adequately because talking via text invites a whole slew of misinterpretation.
There is something to be said for stimulating conversation, and I do enjoy it, but not at the expense of the quality of my life and time. Especially when most people are there simply to be mad, it can be really difficult to weed out those who actually do have good points to make. So, my sincerest apologies, because it’s really not about you, but everyone else who makes me wary of daring to engage.
Lock down your Twitter account for a bit if it will make you feel better!
You don’t want to “let them win,” because they will decry you locking down your Twitter as you not being able to take the heat. Even though they are the ones who simply want to come into your mentions and blast you. They’re just mad that they can’t anymore, that you’re not giving them the satisfaction.
But let me tell you this – you’re allowed to just lock down your Twitter account. For a few days, for a few weeks, forever if you really want to. You don’t owe access to your Twitter to anyone. This is your space and you are allowed to cultivate the experience that you want to have. And if that means shutting other people out, that’s okay. Just because Twitter is a public form does not mean that you need to expose yourself to things that you don’t want to be exposed to.
Keep in mind that most people who are coming into your mentions are doing so in bad faith. They don’t actually want to have a conversation with you, they just want to yell at you. In my case, one individual mentioned that the dog pile that was driven toward me was justified because my opinion was wrong. These people weren’t interested in actually talking to me, they just wanted to make me feel badly about myself. Why would I leave my Twitter open for them to do so? I don’t know where this notion that we out it to random people online access to us, but it’s weird and I don’t like it.
People will call you weak, say things like “lol she locked her Twitter.” Yeah, my dude. I did. What of it? I don’t need to subject myself to an onslaught of asshattery. Go find someone else to bother. Or actually, maybe don’t. Maybe hurl yourself into the sun instead. Just a suggestion.
So, my friends, there’s your less than scientific guide on how to deal with one of your tweets going viral. Although in this particular case I was getting a lot of negative attention, it can be applied to any tweet, regardless of the kind of people you’re finding in your mentions.
Remember, you’re allowed to create the space that you want for yourself online, and you don’t need to cater to anyone else. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, why should it matter to anyone else but you?