Earlier this month a member of the Auspol Twitter community, Noely posed this very question after it was suggested on ABC’s Insiders that the platform was a hotbed for trolling and little else. It wasn’t long before Noely’s campaign went viral, trending in five different countries and sparking a flood of responses and support for the social platform.
#withouttwitter led us to mull over the controversy in greater detail.
Social platforms (particularly Twitter) continue to get a bad rap from politicians and certain media commentators, but is the criticism justified? We asked a number of active women in the #Auspol community to share their thoughts:
I use Twitter like many others here – as curated source of news and views. And when you follow 2,500 accts across a wide spectrum of politics, special interests and advocacy groups…that’s a lot of eyeballs working for you. #withouttwitter I’d be less informed/working harder.
— Wendy Harmer (@wendy_harmer) March 5, 2018
My Twitter birthday is July 1. 20l1. And in that time I’ve posted more than 40,000 tweets. That’s a lot of “what’s happening?” right there, folks.
I remember the upheavals and outrage that Twitter has put it’s loyal members through – like when the “star” was changed to a “heart” (still hate that) and when the word count was doubled, (now I hardly notice) .
And I do regret those times when I found myself in a stupid argument with a nameless troll or posting something dumb. But you can’t do “regret” on Twitter. Sod’s Law decrees that your most re-tweeted comment will be the one that contains an egregious spelling mistake. If you’re going to do this thing properly, you have to have your embarrassment gland removed.
From being a curiosity in the early days, Twitter is now my constant companion. I was never a fan of Facebook and don’t do Instagram so, for me, Twitter is it.
I use it as a research tool (so sad Mark Colvin has left us – he was a fund of brilliant information); a place to take the temperature of opinion; and it’s excellent for contacting friends, colleagues and myriad fascinating people.
I share both the minutiae of my home life and the Big Stuff – the death of my brother and father – and find great community and companionship with my trusty followers. And I hope I’m a comfort to them too in dark times.
Is Twitter an “echo chamber”? If you want it to be, it is, but only if you’re standing on Twitter mountain, shouting into the void and listen to your own voice coming back at you!
Twitter to a degree is the wild west of Social Media. I think most of the criticism is because so many have just not got a real handle on Twitter, it’s random, fast-paced and chaotic nature. Personally, this chaos is what I enjoy. #WithoutTwitter started from a little rant I had, on Twitter of course, due to both media & politicians complaining about it in a one dimensional manner. In my opinion, too many who set the debate in this nation really don’t like the fact they can’t control twitter and of course by extension, the ‘narrative’. This lack of structure may not be convenient for those in power, but it is wonderful for the punter at home.
I started on Twitter to follow #BigWet in the Brisbane Floods, clicked on people’s names, saw interesting ‘stuff’ and down the rabbit hole I went.
For a middle aged white woman living in a regional area, I’m no longer isolated and Twitter has been invaluable. I have learned more about our First Peoples from @IndigenousX in recent years than I had in my previous 50., I can follow along when #SenateEstimates is on, be amazed at the variety of scientists on @realscientists and of course follow #Auspol, #WomenInSport and my beloved @sc_lightning just to name a few.
Yes, Twitter can be feral and both the Police & Twitter need to take abuse more seriously, but in general, just like real life, there are always a few ferals in the pub, you keep away from them or let Management know if they get too bad. In the meantime, only if you let them, will they don’t stop you from enjoying good conversation with your friends.
Glorious Pecora, https://twitter.com/noplaceforsheep Dr Jennifer Wilson is a political blogger, writer and independent scholar.
#WithoutTwitter I wouldn’t have an immediate exchange of knowledge & ideas & inspiration & friendship that isn’t available any other way. The critics just follow the wrong people. ❤❤❤
— Glorious Pecora (@noplaceforsheep) March 4, 2018
Whenever I hear criticisms of Twitter I think, you must be following the wrong people. It isn’t difficult to monitor your timeline, with mute and block option you can exclude those who offend and create a Twitter experience that adds to rather than detracts from your online life.
That doesn’t mean it’s all sunshine. If, like me, you’re politically engaged, there’s more than enough every day to arouse your ire, but that isn’t the fault of Twitter, it’s the political world in which we live.
I’ve fallen foul of most right-wing tweeps, with the peculiar exception of Tony Abbott, who continues to follow me in spite of me never having said one good word about him, and quite a few bad ones. Occasionally I get into fights, always with me, who have in common a belief that I should agree with them or shut up.
Standing up to trolls is an educative thing, and I think of it as part of paying my rent on the planet. Also, it’s very satisfying as a woman to persist.
I love Twitter. I feel a lot of affection for the people I engage with every day, the the odd way one comes to care for people they have never met. I love the humour, the banter, the wit, the intelligence, the cursing and the awareness of what it is to be a politically engaged human in 2018. It isn’t difficult to understand why politicians and some media regard the platform as hostile. That’s an accurate perception: Twitter is a voice for the people unlike anything the establishment has had to deal with before and largely, we’re a critical and challenging voice.
Aside from that, Twitter is my major source of news and opinion, the one I go to first evert morning. It’s where I find and share interesting readings, political and poetic. It’s where my own work is disseminated and I’m cheered by and grateful for the retweets that me I’ve said something other people want to hear.
#withouttwitter my world would be a little less rich in ever way, however I’m not anticipating the demise of Twitter anytime soon.
Denise Shrivell- is the founder of MediaScope & Peggy’s List as well as a rising political activist. She commentates on the intersection between media & politics.
#withouttwitter was started by Noely @yathinkn (above) after a negative comment made on ABC’s Insiders which pointed to the criticism and trolling some journalists and politicians attract through Twitter. While there is a very (very) minor element of unneeded trolling on Twitter, there is a massive difference between this and respectfully speaking truth to power and holding to account. My concern is some politicians, commentators and media are trying to shut down the former – particularly by a politically informed and large group of Australians who often don’t accept their pre-social media taken for granted narrative.
In its first 2 days #withouttwitter was tweeted just over *10,000 times and trended in 5 countries. One of my tweets was the most retweeted with the #withouttwitter hashtag (very humbly) and speaks to exactly why I find Twitter such a valuable platform.
#WithoutTwitter I wouldn’t know the UN released a report last week noting Australia’s ‘astonishing’ anti-democratic slide under the Turnbull Govt. I wouldn’t know this because no mainstream media has reported it – which kinda proves the UN’s point 🤔 #auspol
— Denise Shrivell (@deniseshrivell) March 5, 2018
I am ever amazed & saddened with the mismatch between fact and what’s reported in media and as my tweet shows, often what is not reported. This goes some way to explain why #auspol is one of the most retweeted Twitter hashtags in the world. The significant news shown in my tweet attracted no media attention aside from a small article in the Sunshine Coast Daily. Australians are looking elsewhere for their news.
It can take a while to find the voices to trust but for me Twitter is truth, context & perspective where I’m easily able to find and quickly tap into a trusted community to keep on top of up to the minute news, and learn and evolve my views on a broad range of political topics and policy areas.
#withouttwitter I might vote against my, my family’s and my community’s best interests. In these uncertain times no one can afford that.