By Melanie Haid
Twitter is a social media platform primarily used by young adults, with 42 percent of its users aged 15-17 and 32 percent aged 18-29. But what does this mean for how young adults get their news? How are we influenced by what we immerse ourselves in?
These days, there seems to be a very thick distinction between certain, more “radical” viewpoints, especially present on social media. Twitter is one of these. People, even if they are more in the middle, seem to be prompted to pick a side. Twitter seems to be convincing us that if you don’t agree with all of it, you’re not part of it, especially in regards to topics like political parties.
Similarly, the way people get their information on Twitter is a bit strange. I ran a Twitter poll asking “When you retweet/like articles on Twitter (regardless of subject) either directly or quoted by someone else, how often do you read the full article?” Although only 24 people responded, 4 percent said always, 50 percent said usually, 33 percent said sometimes and 13 percent said rarely.
Interesting that almost half these people don’t even know what they’re endorsing and agreeing with. What does that say about us?
The other day I stumbled across a quoted opinion article on Twitter titled “Firing every man accused of harassment won’t fix the system,” which was regarding recent sexual harassment allegations in Hollywood and it was quoted by a user writing, “I mean, let’s try it and see how it goes.” Personally, I don’t disagree. But out of the nearly 40,000 people who retweeted it, about half of them probably didn’t read it in full. Yet by retweeting this, you are agreeing with the quoted statement, but it goes so much further than that. What is implied is that you too feel that firing these people is necessary, but what is the article really saying?
In a way, this one person’s tweet, retweeted by these 40,000 people (out of which, about 20,000 didn’t read the article) has now painted the article in a different light. It almost implies that the author doesn’t agree with their termination, but you wouldn’t know that that isn’t the point unless you read it.
When you read through the article as a whole, it reflects the headline, but it goes beyond how this singular Twitter user saw it. It said that firing those who sexually harass others in the workplace is not enough, because of the deeply-rooted misogyny and inequality found in the workplace, especially in those of the business industry. But unless you read it, you’d assume that, based on the headline and the quoted Twitter user (who knows if they even read the article themselves), the author of this article may not support terminating harassers.
Because it’s all about perception. If you want to look like you support something, retweet an idea from someone who has a blue check next to their name, whether it is accurate or not. This is just one example, but chances are you see this on a greater and more dangerous scale every day – and you’re probably retweeting them too. That’s what social media is, isn’t it? It’s about creating an image of what you believe in and tearing down those who disagree. These ideas spread like wildfire, and more often than not, give people the wrong idea and get everything twisted. Sure, the more you tweet, retweet and post, the more you’re identifying what you believe in, but how accurately? Bet you don’t think about that before you look through Twitter this morning, huh?
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