January 17, 2022

Twitter Summary: January 15, 2020. Personal use, empathy, trolls, and the mob mentality.

The overall theme of the class session was personal use, empathy, trolls, and the mob mentality. Professor Kelli Matthews started the conversation by saying that these were easy topics to have conversations about because everyone has opinions about them. She was very astute in saying so, as the class period was filled with lively discussion. 

The highlight of the class was Kelli’s suggestion of a 4:15 afternoon nap policy, which we all agreed would be beneficial. 

As we were managing the Twitter, we shared related articles, provided additional information, asked questions, managed polls, and shared gifs and light-hearted content about the class discussion. In general, polls and gifs received a decent amount of engagement. More informative articles or serious questions did not receive as many likes but did have a few very insightful comments made by classmates.

Through managing Twitter for the day, we found that it gave us a deeper understanding of the content, as we were having to seek out extra information and find ways to engage our classmates in the content. Overall, it was a very fun and positive experience, as we had never live-tweeted before, but were able to do so successfully and learn a few things along the way. 

Topics of discussion in class:

  • Emotional contagion: studies have shown that people strive to match the tone of the posts that they see on social media. Therefore, if one observes primarily positive content, then the tone of their posts will match that positivity, and vice versa. 
  • The alternative to emotional contagion is self-promotion-envy-spiral. When we see people are happy on social media, that makes us bitter and jealous.  
  • Callout culture: a way in which the mob mentality of social media can attack someone who posts in a controversial manner. This is a method of virtual policing that can easily ruin the life of the person on the hot seat. This is also seen as a form of cyberbullying. 
  • Stranger on the train phenomenon: people have the tendency to share all sorts of personal details with another person when it is unlikely that they will ever see them again, as this one-time encounter removes any risk or need for constraint. 
  • When criticizing someone online, it is best to do so without the facade of anonymity. When people have to take responsibility for their words, it helps them to be more tactful with what they say, which ultimately leads to a more productive conversation.

Case studies included:

Justine Sacco’s tweet about not being able to get AIDS in Africa because she is white, and the backlash that she received from her words. Lesson learned: do not use satire around such a controversial topic. 
The toxic workplace at Away Travel, and how the CEO used the project management and messaging platform Slack to micromanage her employees to the extreme. 
Brandon Taubman, who was the assistant general manager of the Houston Astros before he was fired for praising a relief pitcher who was accused of domestic violence. 
#MeToo movement: how it allowed for victims of sexual assault join a movement where they could find community and solidarity. While this movement started online, it created tangible change. 
Edward Snowden, who acted boldly as an employee of the CIA by leaking highly sensitive information about the NSA. There are two schools of thought: he is either a patriot or a traitor. 
And finally, Instagram taking away the feature of displaying the number of likes in order to make posting on this platform less of a competition and to promote confidence among its users. 

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