What Should We Make Of The ‘Tweetstorm’ Or ‘Thread,’ Or Whatever You Call It?

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“Threading” is the practice of repeatedly replying to your own tweets on Twitter, without mentioning yourself, in order to create a (usually rapid) series of tweets “threaded” together that can weave a longer narrative than 140 characters ever could. In her piece, Levinson defined manthreading as when men, usually obnoxious men, do it. “They are typically ‘intellectual’ dribblings from men who love Explaining Things To Me (essentially a subtype of Online Mansplaining),” she wrote.

Are threads changing the way we talk?

This is the strange thing about threads, and the good thing, depending on who you ask. They are their own art form. Threads and storms straddle a certain fence, existing somewhere in that space between spoken and written word, often fully punctuated, but just as often full of traits meant to mimic the way we sometimes speak (or yell), like all caps. Jeet Heer, another “manthreader” called out in Levinson’s story, says threading (and really all of Twitter), allows print language to move much closer to what he calls “orality.” For Gretchen McCulloch, an Internet linguist and podcast host, threads are “a new-ish kind of discourse style,” not as stylized as a speech or an essay, and not as fragmentary as a conversation. “They bridge the gap.”

And with that, we end with some tweet thread best practices, from Mignon Fogarty, the podcast host:

1) Take the first tweet very seriously. “The first tweet is the most important,” she says. “In my mind, the first tweet is kind of a combination between a headline and a lede. It has to grab your attention.”

2) Edit yourself. “Like all other writing, it should be as long as it needs to be,” she says, “but usually that’s shorter than the writer thinks.”

A Short Guide To Work Phone Calls For People Who Grew Up Texting

A Short Guide To Work Phone Calls For People Who Grew Up Texting

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From an evolution perspective, human communication is optimized for face-to-face interaction–in small groups and in real time. Conversations are a delicately choreographed dance in which speakers gather constant feedback from listeners, and vice versa, about whether their points are getting through. The nonverbal cues are just as valuable as the verbal ones, if not more so.

So a phone call is already a significant deviation away from that ideal situation, and a text message falls short even more. In fact, the further you get from unmediated face-time, the more likely it becomes that a conversation will go off track. Missing somebody’s tone of voice can make it harder to detect jokes and sarcasm, no matter how many emojis you throw in…

What hieroglyphics, emoji, and stickers have in common

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The oldest written language in the world didn’t have an alphabet. When written language began, it wasn’t used to ‘sound out’ words the way many writing systems do today; instead, each symbol represented a word (or occasionally part of a word). If that sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because speaking with pictures is a familiar concept — modern Chinese (hanzi) is a kind of logographic writing system, as is Japanese kanji. Younger readers, of course, may jump to an even more modern example of a logographic writing system — stickers.

There has been a lot of ink spilled about how stickers and emoji are bringing about the death of modern communication, but that draws an incorrect (and Western-biased, and frankly kind of racist) parallel: that language evolved from a logographic language (hieroglyphics, say) into an alphabetic language (English). In point of fact, English didn’t evolve from a logographic system at all; it’s a cousin, not a child. And Mandarin, whose billion active speakers make it the single most spoken language in the world, uses a syllable-based logographic language system.

Now, linguists may object to the classification of emoji as a logographic writing system.

 

Girl Uses Google Translate To Ask New Classmate To Sit With Her At Lunch

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Two elementary school students in California have proven that friendship can go beyond any language barrier.

One day at school, Amanda Moore noticed a classmate, Rafael Anaya, eating lunch alone. When she spoke to him, she noticed he didn’t speak much English. That’s when she decided she’d simply communicate with a note instead. According to CBS News, Amanda used Google Translate to write a letter in Spanish to Rafael and asked her mom, Kimber Kinard, to proofread it.

Judging Others by Their Email Tics

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…Sure, there was a time it may have been appropriate, even cool, to tout the default “Sent from my iPhone,” a programmed plug-in (and a genius little bit of branding). But these days, that one-liner signals only one thing: bore. So instead, you must come up with something witty. “Sent from a bumpy tarmac,” you might write, followed by a custom GIF. “Envoi de mon iPhone,” if you want to be fancy (and French).

…And so goes the tyranny of judging one another by the minutiae of our email tone. I’m not just talking signoffs like “cheers” or “thanks” (which, for what it’s worth, have prompted a debate of their own). I’m talking next-level nuance: a well-placed emoji, a perfectly timed GIF; what microseconds between replies say about the sender.

“This isn’t just email, this is identity,” said Hilary Campbell, a 25-year-old cartoonist in Brooklyn. “I feel like I’m always trying to balance this sense of being a smart, sensible, reliable person who is also very FUN and quirky.”

…Research has found that when parties are getting along, they tend to mimic each other’s subtle speech patterns: “language synchrony,” as it is known. In which case, if I email with proper capitalization, and you reply with an all-lowercase email, should I be taking offense? “That’s a classic power move,” the digital strategist Victor Pineiro said. “You can’t be bothered to craft a properly capitalized email?”

 

Married to Their Smartphones (Oh, and to Each Other, Too)

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Sherry Zheng was cleaning up from dinner, ready to toss out the remaining fried rice, when she grabbed her phone from the counter to text her husband, Chris. He was upstairs bathing their three children. “Should I save you the leftovers?”

Her phone vibrated: “Sure.”

Ms. Zheng, a 37-year-old stay-at-home mother in Oakton, Va., describes her marriage as happy, and she’s thankful for those kinds of small conveniences that her smartphone affords her. But like most couples, there are also times, when her husband pecks away at a screen, that she wants to toss his device away with the table scraps.

…“Can’t you just acknowledge me?” she hollered. “I’m standing right here.” Mr. Zheng promptly placed his phone on the table. (Since then, she has made her point a bit more clearly by texting him her questions, even if they’re in the same room, since she knows she’ll get a response.)

We live in a culture of dings, beeps and buzzes, as most people manage everything from bank accounts to fantasy football teams on their smartphones.

Spouses may pout if their partners don’t “like” their every Facebook post, an expectation, for some, of marital boosting. Pull out your device to check the baseball scores while on a date with your wife, and you’re bound to get an eye roll.

Type an actress’s name into IMDb while watching TV and suddenly you’re on a 10-minute bender into the black hole of your screen, distracted by a text or game notification. “Are you even watching?” your husband snaps.

…Experts say that smartphone use is meddling in our marriages in ways that are sometimes benign but often frustrating, causing quarrels and forcing couples to address an ever more important question: At what point are we choosing to spend more time with our smartphones than with our spouses?

 

Breadbcrumbing: The Agony of the Digital Tease

Illustration by Tom Bloom

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There was the breadcrumb dropped on Valentine’s Day, by the ex-girlfriend of my friend. The two women hadn’t spoken in months, after a prolonged breakup, and the ex was now seeing somebody new. Yet there she was, on the day of Hallmark-themed romance, “liking” my friend’s Instagram photo … from three weeks ago. Which meant she had to have been scrolling through her feed.

There was the friend, a digital strategist who, every few days, would receive a “sup” from a recruiter, except that the recruiter would never set up a time to meet. Once, my friend returned to his desk to find a “failed Google hangout” notification from this person, to which the recruiter later messaged to apologize for the “butt dial.”

…For anyone who’s ever dated, or maintained any kind of relationship, in the digital age, you have probably known a breadcrumber. They communicate via sporadic noncommittal, but repeated messages — or breadcrumbs — that are just enough to keep you wondering but not enough to seal the deal (whatever that deal may be).

Breadcrumbers check in consistently with a romantic prospect, but never set up a date. They pique your interest, of that prospective job, perhaps, by reminding you repeatedly that it exists, but never set up the interview.

…Like most of today’s torturous microcommunications, we have technology to thank for breadcrumbs. Sure, they may have existed a decade ago (a nod on the street, a “what’s up” in the hallway — these were technically breadcrumbs, right?) but they didn’t have quite the same “desperate wondering about what someone means,” Ms. Simmons said.

“These are connections, not conversations,” said Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T.