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.

How One Tweet About Nicki Minaj Spiraled Into Internet Chaos

Excerpt from this article:

In the week since publicizing the acidic messages she received directly from Ms. Minaj, whose next album, “Queen,” is scheduled for release in August, Ms. Thompson said she has received thousands of vicious, derogatory missives across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, email and even her personal cellphone, calling her every variation of stupid and ugly, or worse. Some of the anonymous horde included pictures Ms. Thompson once posted on Instagram of her 4-year-old daughter, while others told her to kill herself. Ms. Thompson also lost her internship at an entertainment blog in the chaotic days that followed, and she is now considering seeing a therapist.

Such are the risks of the new media playing field, which may look level from afar, but still tilts toward the powerful. As social media has knocked down barriers between stars and their faithful (or their critics), direct communication among the uber-famous and practically anonymous has become the norm. But while mutual praise can cause both sides to feel warm and tingly, more charged interactions can leave those who have earned a star’s ire, like Ms. Thompson, reeling as eager followers take up the celebrity’s cause.

Two Strangers Met on a Plane—and the Internet Ruined It

Excerpt from this article (and see also this one with a similar take, showing how the woman who was tweeted about without her consent “has been subjected to harassment and shamed, leading to her reportedly deleting her social media accounts” and then this one covering the apology)

They began observing the interaction playing out in the row before them. And also: documenting it, via pictures and videos and words and, eventually, a series of tweets. Helen and Euan thus went from strangers on a plane to participants—via the dedicated attentions of the two people behind them, watching them through the space between the seats—in a cheekily epic drama.

“Last night on a flight home,” Blair’s vicarious saga began, “my boyfriend and I asked a woman to switch seats with me so we could sit together. We made a joke that maybe her new seat partner would be the love of her life and well, now I present you with this thread.”

…It took the flimsy and serendipitous delights of their initial meeting and turned them, with the ruthlessness of media churn, into a money-making proposition. As Blair and Holden made their appearances on the morning shows—as they cheerfully sold their story and also themselves—they served as reminders: Even whimsy, these days, will be commodified.

…There was one person, notably, who resisted those inertias: Helen herself… And yet: Even despite her resistance, Helen was pulled into the story. She, too, was meme-ified. She, too, was flattened. She, too, was used.

Why Am I Crying All the Time?

Excerpt from this article:

For the quickest, surest, most fulsome cry, I open my Twitter app and search for “military homecoming videos.” These are homemade smartphone clips, sometimes elaborately staged, that capture a raw moment of surprise experienced by an American who does not know that a family member who is in the military and stationed away from home is returning for a visit. If so-called promposals are merely touching, military homecomings pack a wallop.

“They’re the old Hallmark commercials of today,” said Mary Connelly, an executive producer of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” in its 15th year an old hand at the crying game. “There is nothing better than those, they’re money in the bank.”

Retweets Are Trash

Excerpt from this article:

Twitter has a tool that lets you turn off retweets from one person at a time. But I follow thousands of people, so my office mate, who happens to be a skilled programmer, wrote a script for me that turned off retweets from everybody. Retweets make up more than a quarter of all tweets. When they disappeared, my feed had less punch-the-button outrage. Fewer mean screenshots of somebody saying precisely the wrong thing. Less repetition of big, big news. Fewer memes I’d already seen a hundred times. Less breathlessness. And more of what the people I follow were actually thinking about, reading, and doing. It’s still not perfect, but it’s much better.

The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News

A large megaphone projects lies, fake news, falsehoods, and images of Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, and Hillary Clinton. A smaller megaphone projects truth.

Excerpt from this article:

The massive new study analyzes every major contested news story in English across the span of Twitter’s existence—some 126,000 stories, tweeted by 3 million users, over more than 10 years—and finds that the truth simply cannot compete with hoax and rumor. By every common metric, falsehood consistently dominates the truth on Twitter, the study finds: Fake news and false rumors reach more people, penetrate deeper into the social network, and spread much faster than accurate stories.

“It seems to be pretty clear [from our study] that false information outperforms true information,” said Soroush Vosoughi, a data scientist at MIT who has studied fake news since 2013 and who led this study. “And that is not just because of bots. It might have something to do with human nature.”

Avengers: Infinity War Crossover Meme

Has this meme been appearing all over your social feeds in last few days? Here are some articles with tons of examples:

  • People are having lots of fun coming up with examples of more ‘ambitious’ crossover events than Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ [link]
  • The internet doesn’t think ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is the most ambitious crossover event [link]
  • The ‘Infinity War’ Crossover Meme Is The Only Good Meme Right Now [link]