Judge, jury and executioner

This guest post is by Natascha Dowsett, who I first met on Twitter and, I’m proud to say, has since become a real life friend. Natascha has worked in feature films, hospitality, recruitment and communications. An entrepreneur, she owns a Big Picture PR and Social Media for Sales Superstars. You can also find her on Twitter as @TaschaD and she’d love you to say hello!


I would shout it from the roof tops if I could: I LOVE TWITTER! The people I have met and loved getting to know and the friends that I have made on this social media platform means Twitter has been an amazing experience (that unfortunately, people like my mother never got to have at my age). I have been invited to dinners, on bus tours, wine trips and launches, and was even head-hunted for a job via Twitter once (that is a huge can of worms I won’t open up here, though!)

So as you can see, Twitter is so inclusive and friendship-oriented that there is nothing wrong with it. RIGHT?

WRONG! And here’s why.

1. Anonymity and lack of context

Social media in general has one flaw… people can say things without having to actually say them to your face. There is a lot of blunt, reactionary comments that happen on Twitter and this is due to the 140 character-limit you have in which to state your opinion. You don’t have to see someone’s reaction, so normal empathy cues can be blocked.

Lack of a sarcasm or an “I’m just joking” font can also cause confusion. Let’s be honest: most of us enjoy making people laugh and without some way of using our tone of voice it can sometimes start a Twitter fire, which you then have to put out quickly. Or not. Some people like watching the burn.

2. Lack of patience with newbies

One of my biggest pet peeves on Twitter is people getting upset or telling-off newbies, or people who link their Twitter and Facebook account.

Let’s address the newbie aspect: THEY ARE NEW! They are learning and they are so weirded-out by Twitter the last thing they need is to feel stupid. If they put the wrong hashtag in, too many hashtags OR God forbid, don’t respond straight away, is it really up to you to tell them off?

I don’t know about you but it’s like teaching your children: do you yell at them when they get their homework wrong, or do you encourage their growth and support them?

Think about it next time you are about to do this as you may be putting someone off Twitter all together, and then they will miss out on all the wonderful experiences you have been lucky enough to enjoy.

And if people are linking Twitter and Facebook accounts, does this REALLY affect your experience on Twitter? If it does, then by all means, contact them PRIVATELY and explain how much this disturbs you, but don’t go telling them off in a public forum. If they want advice on social media there are plenty of “experts” that can help, and people will ask for help if they want it and when they are ready for it.

3. Grammar Nazis

Grammar Nazis, love them or hate them, they are here to stay in the social media world. I must admit though, while I hate being called out in front of all my “friends” if I make an error (and although it does humiliate and embarrass you), being corrected really does stay in your mind and you don’t make that mistake again. However, to all you Grammar Nazis out there, please realise there are nice ways of saying things and that we have this new thing now called DIRECT MESSAGING. Send a DM, so you are still getting your point across, still showing that you clearly are the smarter one, but not humiliating people in front of all their “friends”.

4. Political correctness

In this day and age, we have so many bland people who don’t like others making “inappropriate” jokes. I myself have (over the years) been the butt of people’s jokes. I had VERY blonde hair and (until recently) a double G bra size and I got all the dumb blonde jokes! TRUST ME. When I used to say I worked in independent films, the reaction from most people was “What? Debbie Does Dallas? HA HA HA”. So what? This is life, we are allowed to joke. We need to laugh and have fun; life would be unbearable without laughter.

On another note, I have black friends, white friends, Asian friends, Jewish friends, gay friends, lesbian friends, bisexual friends, bogan friends, posh friends, Irish friends and some not-so-bright friends, and I have equally made jokes about all of them to their faces (and have been known to do so on Twitter).

If you truly think that someone on Twitter is homophobic or racist, then you can try to change their opinion, but I am not sure if blasting them is the way to do it. If you are about to lash out at someone who you know has a good heart and might just be making an inappropriate joke, I say, leave it alone. They have that right and do not need you trying to make yourself more superior by reacting.

5. Diets

THANK GOD for Twitter. Some of my lovely followers have helped encourage me to finally get off my arse and get back on the treadmill or run along the Linear Park. This has been fabulous for me and I must say the encouragement I get when I post my running times and distances is a fabulous form of moral support and I cherish every comment. Thank you.

On the flip side, I have seen so many rude, nasty and reactionary comments in regards to dieting. If someone says they have a great no-carb recipe it doesn’t necessarily mean they think carbs are the devil, and you do not need to then explain that all they need to do is workout more and they can then eat as many carbs as they want. We are all bright enough to know what works for us individually; no one diet works for everyone and some people find eating carbs makes them feel like crap.

YOU ARE NOT A DIETITIAN! Even if you are, you were not asked for your advice and by being rude you are just being nasty for the sake of it.
I once watched a girl telling off a no-carb, Paleo girl (PG)saying that PG was putting down “fat” people and it was people like her that created a feeling of hatred toward overweight people just by PG discussing her dietary choice.
Are you freaking kidding me? It’s a diet, it’s her body and if she chooses to live a Paleo lifestyle, then so be it. If you agree in people’s right to a choice (and that is EVERY human being’s right) then let them make their own choices about what they put in their own bodies and just butt out.

Final words

I think I have to finish my little rant now, but read this knowing Twitter can be fun, most people (just like in real life) are wonderful and inclusive. They are full of support, jokes and great advice.

In general, my rule of thumb is this: if you have been asked for your opinion on Twitter, then by all means share it in a constructive manner and if not, maybe think of direct messaging someone and letting them know your thoughts if you feel it’s that important. Don’t embarrass or shame them in a public forum. They are doing their best to be the person they know how to be i.e. themselves and that is the reason you followed them to start with.

0 thoughts on “Judge, jury and executioner

    1. Tascha is absolutely spot on with this, Gary. Although I have to say that one of my current pet Twitter peeves is people sending me DMs thanking me for following and/or asking me to like their Facebook page or offering me a free eBook. Urgh. How not to connect with me.

  1. Great post!!! I sometimes wonder if people realise the message they’re giving when they jump to the “unfriend” button at a slight mis-understanding/ mixed message. Seems to me to be like inviting someone to a party opening the door and, not liking what they’re wearing, slam it in their face whilst the rest of the guests watch on.
    What about the person who “unfriends” you because their friend does and then criticises you for choosing not to accept their party invitation the following week?… Uhhh???

    1. Facebook is a politically fraught minefield, Catherine! I am hesitant to add new FB friends for precisely the reasons you describe. I tend to send people to Twitter if they want to “friend” me on social media.

  2. I am in total agreement. Newbies are just trying to figure it out. Being helpful is good, blasting one says allot about the one doing the blasting, don’t you think?

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