Maggie Haberman: Why I Needed to Pull Back From Twitter

Excerpt from this article:

Twitter has stopped being a place where I could learn things I didn’t know, glean information that was free from errors about a breaking news story or engage in a discussion and be reasonably confident that people’s criticisms were in good faith.

The viciousness, toxic partisan anger, intellectual dishonesty, motive-questioning and sexism are at all-time highs, with no end in sight. It is a place where people who are understandably upset about any number of things go to feed their anger, where the underbelly of free speech is at its most bilious.

Twitter is now an anger video game for many users. It is the only platform on which people feel free to say things they’d never say to someone’s face. For me, it had become an enormous and pointless drain on my time and mental energy.

In India, Facebook’s WhatsApp Plays Central Role in Elections

Excerpt from this article:

Milling on a vast field with his college buddies, Mr. Bhat, 18, cheered for Mr. Modi and his Hindu-oriented Bharatiya Janata Party, which was trying to wrest control of Karnataka state from the more secular Indian National Congress in legislative elections.

Yet the most intense political campaigning was not taking place on the streets. Instead, the action was happening on WhatsApp, a messaging service owned by Facebook that has about 250 million users in India.

Mr. Bhat, a B.J.P. youth leader, said he used WhatsApp to stay in constant touch with the 60 voters he was assigned to track for the party. He sent them critiques of the state government, dark warnings about Hindus being murdered by Muslims — including a debunked B.J.P. claim that 23 activists were killed by jihadists — and jokes ridiculing Congress leaders. His own WhatsApp stream was full of election updates, pro-B.J.P. videos, and false news stories, including a fake poll purportedly commissioned by the BBC that predicted a sweeping B.J.P. win.

4 innovative ways India is using WhatsApp

A boy uses a mobile phone as he sits inside his father's snacks shop along a road in Kolkata, India, February 22, 2016. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - RTX27ZEW

Excerpt from this article:

In recent years, the authorities have caught on to WhatsApp’s potential for engaging more directly with the Indian public, especially in some of the country’s megacities.

Increasing women’s safety

A WhatsApp safety group enables New Delhi women who travel by public transport to send photos and details of the vehicle to the police before boarding it. Set up as both a deterrent for sex crimes and to boost women’s confidence, the group can also be used to alert the police in emergencies.

Reporting offences…

Holding politicians to account…

Helping flood victims

HAPPY ED BALLS DAY

ed-balls-580

Excerpt from this article:

In the annals of pseudo-holidays… there is none, to my mind, more pleasing than April 28th, on which Britons the Internet wide observe the anniversary of the time a distracted politician accidentally tweeted his own name… The politician in question is the Labour M.P. and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Edward Michael (Ed) Balls. At 4:20 p.m. on April 28, 2011, Balls was in a grocery store in Yorkshire, picking up the ingredients for his signature fourteen-hour pulled pork. Somewhere between the white buns and the watermelon, he got a call from an aide. The aide urged him to search Twitter for an article that mentioned him. Balls hit the wrong key on his Blackberry and tweeted the now immortal phrase: “Ed Balls.”

Covfefe is a word now. Deal with it

Excerpt from this article (and see also this one for background):

Trump’s tweet went thus: “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”, and that was it. Keyboard detectives have pointed out that the strokes needed to type “erage” are vaguely similar to “fefe”, and that would fit semantically with the rest of the brainfart. So, boringly enough, he meant to type “coverage”. But it was too late. Covfefe was born.

And with it, the new discipline of Covfefe studies.

This Scottish man’s Twitter feed is blowing up for all the wrong reasons

Excerpt from this article:

Remember John Lewis, the American computer science educator who’s forever being mistaken for both a congressman and a British department store?

Well, he’s not the only one.

With increasing mentions of Donald Trump’s Chief Strategist Steve Bannon cropping up in the news, one man from Scotland has found himself on the receiving end up a huge surge of misdirected tweets.

Introducing @SteveBannon — Scottish man living in the southwest of England, father of three, and very much not a senior advisor to Donald Trump

Depressed by Politics? Just Let Go

Excerpt from this article:

The unhappiness results speak for themselves. A friend of mine — a well-known journalist with a large social media following — once confided in me that there is little that brings him more anxiety than checking his Twitter feed. As he clicks on his notifications, he can feel his chest tighten. Maybe you can relate to this.

So what is the solution? First, find a way to bring politics more into your sphere of influence so it no longer qualifies as an external locus of control. Simply clicking through angry political Facebook posts by people with whom you already agree will most likely worsen your mood and help no one. Instead, get involved in a tangible way — volunteering, donating money or even running for office. This transforms you from victim of political circumstance to problem solver.

Second, pay less attention to politics as entertainment. Read the news once a day, as opposed to hitting your Twitter feed 50 times a day like a chimp in a 1950s experiment on the self-administration of cocaine. Will you get the very latest goings on in Washington in real time? No. Will that make you a more boring person? No. Trust me here — you will be less boring to others. But more important, you will become happier.

So go ahead, let go of the tree.