Tell Me Who You Go With And I'll Tell You Who You Are

It is my habit to take my main annual vacation in winter and spend the time keeping cosy in the saloon of Leopard Normand III, although some years it has been necessary to work, especially when we have been running restaurants/bars. This year I took my holidays on Twitter, or to be more precise, in the Twitterhood as I call the group that comprises those whom I 'follow' and those who 'follow' me at Twitter.com ...

It was a wonderful vacation and I met so many great people over the period that my world has been transformed but, as one might expect in any society, I also met one or two people with whom it would have given me no pleasure to associate.

Unlike some people, I don't mind that some of the characters of my acquaintance are somewhat pushy individuals, trying to sell something and inept at human relations. It is my opinion that they will be better helped by being accepted and then gently shown the error of their approach than by rejection.

As I am in the habit of introducing the existing members of the Twitterhood to new people as they 'move in', I have the opportunity of letting certain individuals know that I don't feel willing to introduce them just yet. In some cases it is because they haven't provided any information about themselves in their Bio, in others it is because they have not communicated in any 'tweets' yet, so there is no obvious reason for anyone to want to follow them. Once in a while it is because it is obvious that advertising is all they have in mind.

Occasionally, the reason I am unwilling to 'shout-out' an introduction is because I would not associate with a person outside the Twitterhood and am loathe to be associated with them inside it.

Yesterday, for example, I explained to a young man, as kindly as possible and in a direct message (i.e. privately) that I didn't want to introduce the Twitterhood to his unpleasant style of tweeting - liberal use of words to which the parents of the younger members of the Twitterhood would not thank me for exposing them, unpleasant attitudes to women and 'jokes' that could only appear amusing to someone with a very damaged psyche.

As a result, after a couple of private messages had passed between us in which he was increasingly insulting, he publicly tweeted a message that was unpleasant in the extreme and demonstrated, more clearly than anything I could possibly have said, why he would not be a person to have around decent human beings. He later appears to have deleted that message, perhaps realising that it said a great deal more about him than about me.

It was my intention to ask what you would have done in the same situation - accepted all comers, introduced them without making any kind of judgement of their suitability for the existing group and let the neighbourhood fill up with the scum of the Earth or exercised the capacity for discernment - but then I realised that it doesn't really matter whether you would do one thing or the other! The joy of Twitter is that each of us is free to act exactly as we wish in both directions, what we put out and what we take in. The results of exercising that freedom must always speak more loudly than any speculation over it!

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At Thursday, January 08, 2009 12:48:00 pm, Anonymous JulieWalraven said...

Linnet, Taking the time to educate others is very generous of you. I appreciate so many things you've done, like the Twitterhood page that is there to help people understand Twitter and learn about other tools. You are right in the end, people can follow who they choose or not follow. For me, I read through new followers page and decide whether to follow. The blatant advertising ones, I skip over, as well as ones that I see with inappropriate language. In real life, I pretty much do the same thing. Since I still have young men around the house (mine and those from other mothers), language is normally good and when it is inappropriate in my presence, they get the "Watch your mouth?" or just a look and I get an apology. Gently teaching people that there are better ways to communicate in the public is a good idea. Keep it up!


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