Escaping The Social Media Matrix

If I hadn’t started taking my writing more seriously, I’d rarely use social networking. When I listen to people talk about “back in the day” virtually, I’m always the quietest in the conversation. Facebook didn’t launch until I was well out of college. I didn’t do Blackplanet. I never experienced meeting a facially-challenged chick who looked nothing like her photos. Social media, as it is now, just wasn’t on my radar. Part of me wonders sometimes “did I miss out on a huge chunk of experiencing my 20s?”. When I hear stories about the ground zero of social networking, I’m seriously amazed at some of the craziness that used to go down. However, being on Twitter, I get it now. Twitter is like the virtual Voltron of all those sites. The phenomenon of Black Twitter especially is a sociologist’s dream case study.

The unofficial official logo of Black Twitter

As with most social networking, your experience with it is reflective upon who you “allow” into your space. While I do follow some reckless tweeters, I balance it out by following respected sports reporters and some corporate brands. All around though, I prefer the personal aspect of Facebook. Most of the people I’m friends with I either already know, I’ve met them through the various cities I’ve lived in and visited, or I feel like we’d benefit from knowing each other. I was initially turned off by the anonymity of Twitter. But in 2012 I gave it a 2nd try because I had time for it. I was hoping to take my writing to that next level and Twitter is a major resource. What was the point of writing if nobody ever reads and gives feedback?

Lately though, I’m exhausted by “Black Twitter”. See, it’s not like sitting in a public place and eavesdropping on random conversations. It’s more like being back in college as a freshman. You have the scholarly, studious types who are well-versed; from religion to ratchetry. You have pseudo-intelligents where 140 characters is the limit to their sensibility. You have the jocks that talk sports 24/7. You have the um, future ladies of the night, who try to be everything and nothing at the same time. And lastly, you have the cynical a**holes who critique every facet of every topic in life. Everybody fits into 1 category and for the most part, everybody plays their position efficiently.

This hierarchy gets old after awhile.

No matter how much I try to unfollow the unsavory and follow more of the professionals, it’s like I keep winding up in the seedy dorm on campus. I do have different aspects of my personality. I can be serious and have a nuanced discussion about politics or current events. I also like to discuss music and sports from a casual perspective. But there’s an “elite” sub-group within Black Twitter where they just tweet to tweet. It’s like a bunch of Skip Bayless’s. You know and he knows that he doesn’t believe 83% of what’s coming out of his mouth. Yet he talks to provoke emotion and solicit polarizing discussions. Then you have the tweeters who initiate cyclical topics that make you want to delete your account altogether; natural hair, black women vs. “exotic” women, “King” Beyonce, Kobe vs. Lebron, armchair activists, and relationship hangups. There’s even a running joke in Black Twitter that’s similar to a Bingo game. It’s sad though that as a digital sub-community, our tweeting habits are that predictable.

You can set your watch to when these topics will come up

You can set your watch to when these topics will come up

That’s not to say that White Twitter or Asian Twitter don’t regurgitate topics or tweet the same way Black Twitter does. I have yet to discover those areas. What’s funny is Black Twitter is a relatively accurate depiction of the black community in real life. You have the haves and the have-nots, yet there’s not much separating those groups. Whereas, a well-to-do Asian guy who grew up in West Orange isn’t going to have a lot in common with an Asian who grew up in The Bay. While black people aren’t monolithic, our stories are often too similar to separate ourselves. So we talk about things to create the illusion of separation. Those efforts run rampant in tweets and it can sometimes sully the experience.

Twitter hasn’t been all bad though. I’ve “met” some very talented writers. I’ve met some people with whom I’m done business offline. And I’ve also discovered some pretty amazing music that I likely wouldn’t have come across. I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. Social media and the personalities that come with it can sometimes leak into your real life if you don’t check out sometimes.

Have you ever taken a social media break? Do you prefer 1 social networking site over the others? Do you think other groups of people tweet the same way Black Twitter does?


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