“I’m not telling you something you don’t already know/Personal or business/You got to know who your friends is…”- Eightball, “Friend or Foe”
I have for the most part of my writing career held on to the notion that all forms of writing are simply conversations extended through time. Although, a written piece may have timely aspects to it that cause it to be more relevant to certain time zones, or certain eras of time, that time stamp does not stop the written words from existing. There is something of longevity that these symbols, these written words, concatenated as vehicles for our thoughts in physical, as opposed to purely mental, space have that no matter the topic, allow them a certain life beyond the average modes of communication.
That being written, this piece is not simply another digital recording of the precautionary steps one should employ while employing Twitter. It is not even simply a model of behavior for any web application. It is beyond that. It is a discussion about trust, loyalty, and self-discipline in the location of personal acquaintance. More than just another conversation about “social media”, no, this is a small manifest-if that is not too cliché- on how one should go about handling personal information about themselves in public space that extends into personal relationships.
On September 23, 2013, California teens get an online “eraser button” under a law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Now, without spending too much time on legal and social critique of the bill itself, this very official act declares a lot about usage of the net, as well as how we perceive its function. The bill explicitly reserves online privacy and complete past online communications deletions to those under the age of 18. It handles these communications in the same way that criminal records are sealed from most public domains at the age of eighteen. What we put online is often framed as public domain in such a way that we have not seen fit to regulate against discriminatory hiring practices based on online stalking by human resource departments. In fact, we as a body of law making people are leaning towards more of the same. What we do on social media– and what is important for this topic of the six unavoidable principles of Twitter beyond Twitter– what we do beyond Twitter with what we have gleaned from Twitter, is not protected by the state. Our words can and will be used against us in whatever court, whether just public opinion or state and federally operated.
With that in mind, I present you to you, this small list of acts and principles to protect yourself from your online self–your “avatar”, if you will– being used against you.
The six unavoidable principles of Twitter beyond Twitter
1. Purpose. Alright, let us start with some principles I have learned over the years, and then incorporate them into calls for action via anecdote. The first principle I would suggest is the idea of purpose. Why did you log onto Twitter this morning? Does that reason still connect without stretching your justification muscles to the purpose you created the Twitter account? Do you even remember why you created the Twitter account?
Your purpose for creating your online avatars on particular mediums will direct your communications. It will impact those exchanges with others, and ultimately, what your purpose is will influence how others treat you and color their expectations once the avatars are no longer around and you are face to face. Twitter beyond Twitter.
Owl’s Asylum on Twitter, or the @OwlsAsylum, was established with the purpose of allowing me space to express thoughts that might be offensive or simply require so many updates that I was “killing people’s timelines”(that is to say, I was sending so many updates that I was filling a person following me’s screen with just my updates).
My first Twitter account was a business account for the Jay Farand, Digital Hustler graphic design/branding/web brand. It had as a purpose the use of Twitter’s broad technology(*cough*geek*ahem*) audience to promote my freelance services. It took one night in a political philosophy class taking notes using Twitter for one of my followers to inform me that I was indeed “killing” her timeline for me to open another account. Thus, I opened that account under the domain name I had been using for my online journal keeping and media class paper presentations, Owl’s Asylum.
That separation has served me well, as my contacts via the Asylum understand exactly what they are getting when they meet me offline. As well, those that choose to do business with me in a less than personal fashion still have that option via the Jay Farand avatar. Purpose still dictates how I use both accounts, as purpose should dictate how you use yours.
2. Perspective. That brings me to what I would like to address as a principle secondly. Namely, keep your perspective sharp. I want to be blunt here: you can’t phukkk an avatar. You can’t wash an avatar. When you invite an avatar to your house, the avatar does not show up: the human behind the avatar does.
This creates two dilemmas I have had to deal with that have both honed my perspective with respect to online exchanges. The first is that people have become extremely good with camera angles in the designing of avatars, and the second is that people have a tendency to maintain the upkeep of their avatar much better than their personal lives. I do not regard these as “negative” things, in fact, I keep the perspective that they are probably smart, and that they are definitely a reflection of the society we live in. Twitter is in fact a media platform whereby we form social interactions. How much of your visual media is flooded with images of Black Women with locks or afros? How many times do you see a stretch mark on a Woman on television when nudity or high levels of body exposure are being presented? How many fat women are shown in sexual performance on television? Why the phukkk would you expect to see anyone else run their personal online media campaign that way then?
Perspective. The human is not the avatar. In the same way that all of the celebrities I have met in person are different in some way than their television or print appearance, I expect that what I see as an avatar will not totally reflect what I see once we go Twitter beyond Twitter. Perspective.
3. Research. This third principle really gets to the core of who I am and probably has allowed for me to do the things I do that generate such spiteful reactions from those that either cannot do it or are just afraid to. Research the culture of the online community you are interacting with. There are two primary components here I go by. I let an avatar be an avatar, especially if I know the person beyond Twitter. Further, I do not make relationships with avatars, as noted, you cannot phukkk an avatar. Nor can you conduct business with one.
Get to understand the nuance of the culture of the online community. Accept who does not want to be more than an avatar in that space. Research those you might want to go Twitter beyond Twitter with. As in most of Life’s more valuable endeavors, this takes time and patience. In keeping your perspective sharp, take serious the etymology– the make up– of the word “research”. It means to search again. Thus, you should be searching and “re”-searching.
4. Discipline. What all this leads up to is an ideal of simplicity, yet never simple in practice: have some discipline about your avatar or avatars. That does not imply a lot of musing about of respectability politics. Unless it should.
Stick to your purpose. Maintain your schtick. Groom your perspective how you have purposed it. Stay disciplined within the realm of your design.
If your purpose on Twitter is to go beyond Twitter and suck seven hundred dicks, have at it. Just be disciplined enough to have realistic expectations regarding the reaction to a public campaign of such measures.
Whether your account is private or public, it is public.
Screen capturing software is available for free. There is a culture online that deems it accolade worthy for people to use it in the most intimate of communications for audience presentation. Be disciplined in the research of those that might honor that culture. Be disciplined in your acceptance that some might take advantage of vulnerable information you have presented online and take Twitter beyond Twitter. Be disciplined about your choice of channels to communicate or provide anything about yourself. Be disciplined enough to realize that just as you are doing research to get a synopsis of the human behind the avatar, others are as well.
Be always disciplined in the mindfulness that anything and everything you post can and will be used against you in the court of Twitter beyond Twitter.
5. Anger Management. In the same vein as discipline and research, this principle that I have chosen for our fifth here, is anger management. I know, my hypocrisy has grown such that I could claim it as a dependent.
There are many more people that take personal pride in my accomplishments than take my personal successes as an affront to their worldview. It would be inconsiderate of me to waste too much time or space worrying about those that dislike me simply for being influential where they cannot be, than to focus on the majority of people that love seeing Owl’s smile.
There is simply nothing to gain in the addressing of passive aggressive forms of attack but threats to your physical and financial well-being Twitter beyond Twitter. An avatar cannot punch you, but somebody within close proximity can take you Twitter beyond Twitter straight to the hospital. This is not Joe saying always “be positive”, or any of that “new age spiritual” ideology. I am not attempting to scare or strike fear into your heart. I promise I am not. I am simply addressing the actuality that there is probably nothing an online animus can do to prevent or block your success that responding in like will detour.
Twitter beyond Twitter, maybe a heated argument could lead to a forum exchange. Not usually, though. In my years online, I have not seen that occur between individuals that did not work for the same cable news station. And everybody knows just how attention whoring cable news station personalities are these days. In my years of experience, I just have not seen anger being the best response to online attacks. Often, the best practice is to ignore the bullies behind screens until you can handle it Twitter beyond Twitter in a more resolute way.
6. Respect Your Circle Of Influence. And lastly, respect your circle of influence. Once the research is analyzed, after the trolls have been weeded out of your avatar’s circulation, and Twitter beyond Twitter has formed meaningful relationships, tighten your grip. That is going to mean different things to different people, I am sure. For some of you reading this, that possibly means less Twitter. Your purpose for Twitter has been met, you do not want to damage your brand– personal or business– so you slide the application to the fourth screen you never look at, and that’s that. Not a bad move, in Owl’s opinion.
What I’ve done is used less and less lists. In fact, at the present time, I only engage with those I have fashioned into one list. I believe in follow for follow on Twitter, so I do have over six thousand followers, yet, I only engage those that engage with me, and I only regularly read the accounts of about one-hundred. And I am constantly pruning that number daily. Most of the people on that list are people I have gone Twitter beyond Twitter with, or that I met prior to even knowing they had a Twitter account. Many on that list are people that I have been reading and engaging with for well over the better part of four years.
I attempt to keep enough discipline regarding those new followers I pick up, or drop off, to respect that, hey, I do not like this person Twitter beyond Twitter. All of the people I have gone Twitter beyond Twitter with are not people I would want to spend valuable time with. Some are better avatars than face time associates of Owl. That is to be expected. I applaud(very loudly according to Bri) when RGIII plays, yet, by virtue of his public stances via interviews, I do not believe we would have much to agree on as drinking buddies. Twitter beyond Twitter, I have accumulated some rewarding business experiences, and some headaches. It is the nature of business, I would not hope that anyone expects Twitter beyond Twitter to alter that process.
In closing, enjoy this small group of principles. Reflect and incorporate. If you have some thoughts to add, the comment section of Asylum is highly policed(*smiles*), but always open.