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Flitter Away, Twitter!

Actor Stephen Fry deactivated his Twitter account recently after Twitter users criticized him for a joke he told at the British Academy Film Awards. (Read more here.) His rationale was that Twitter had become, “…a stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended — worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know,” Fry wrote on his website on Monday. “It’s as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined.”

I don’t personally have a Twitter account and while Ehell does have one, I’ve never used it to send any tweets and will deactivate it. My reasonings have been that it is impossible to convey any depth of meaning in 140 characters, and that I’m of the belief that it’s hubris to think the world wants to know your 140-character opinions. While I see value in Facebook for finding and retaining relationships, particularly long distance relationships, I have yet to find much redeeming value to Twitter. When I hear of Twitter battles, I’m baffled as to how anyone can cogently debate within the parameters of 140 characters. It’s written warfare with little text “bullets”.  Deliver a volley of them and your target might just “die” of multiple wounds.   So, yes, I congratulate Mr. Fry for his keen observations and willingness to divest himself of Twitter.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Night February 17, 2016, 3:21 am

    Twitter is fun so long as you don’t treat it as a platform for having grand arguments or delivering profound revelations.

    • utknat7 February 17, 2016, 10:23 am

      Agreed! People who treat any Social Media this way, ruin the fun for the rest.

      • The Elf February 18, 2016, 9:19 am

        Yeah, trolls ruin it for everyone. Don’t like Fry’s particular brand of humor? Don’t follow him! It’s not that hard to simply…. walk away.

        I don’t do twitter, or instagram, or most anything else. I have an online presence on sites like this, and Facebook. On Facebook, I use privacy settings to keep everything to “friends” and choose those judiciously. For instance, no one from work is my friend. In a way, that’s a shame since I truly enjoy the company of many of the people I work with. But I figured it was the best way to handle that sort of thing. Facebook is great for keeping touch with friends and family flung around the world. It’s not the same as meeting someone for coffee, but it’s the next best thing when that friend is on another continent.

        There have been a few drama queens in my Facebook friends list, most recently my own brother. I’ve unfriended them or restricted them, depending on the circumstances. They can simply not comment, but that appears to be beyond them. So I do the walking away.

    • Kovi February 18, 2016, 12:25 pm

      Exactly. It’s completely fine to not be interested in Twitter as a social media, but it’s important not to mistake its purpose. It’s not meant to have long, in-depth discussions, and those who criticize it as not being a good platform for those kinds of discussions are wrong about its intent, altogether.

      I run a Youtube channel for gaming, and I have a Twitter account to support that I love chatting with my followers, using Twitter to post my videos, updates, jokes, etc. For that, it’s perfect. The problem is that, like any other public platform, it’s subject to toxic individuals who use it to spread hate and vile.

      Facebook is very different from Twitter. Unless you’re hosting a fan page or group, your profile is likely private. You do not normally interact with people you don’t know.

      As for the world wanting to know my 140 character thoughts, I highly doubt most Twitter users feel that way. The only people who see my tweets are those who specifically follow me.

  • DoubleYou February 17, 2016, 4:36 am

    It makes me smile that underneath this (rather accurate) description of the cesspool that is Twitter, there’s a little blue button inviting the reader to share this article on… (yes, you guessed it!)

  • Laura February 17, 2016, 5:24 am

    Mr Fry has quit Twitter numerous times only to return again.

    • K February 17, 2016, 10:10 am

      That’s exactly what I was thinking.

    • Amanda H. February 17, 2016, 3:38 pm

      Frankly, I just see it as the social media equivalent of stepping out of the room until people settle down.

    • Kovi February 18, 2016, 12:25 pm

      Oh, I’m sure he really means it, this time!…

  • Ulla February 17, 2016, 5:32 am

    I have to admit, i have never used Twitter and can’t find the appeal of that as social network, when one has the “social” in the term. I agree with admin, 140 characters can’t convey much, and shortening the text to fit the limit creates messages that are ambivalent or unclear in meaning and offer ample opportunities for voluntary and involuntary misunderstandings.

    I can see use cases for it. Sharing links to interest groups about topic you like can be done easily. Or “raporting” events as they happen, as Twitter is far more realtime application than Facebook or other options. For example in conventions or conferences or sport events, updates could easily be sent. “Speaker XXX YYY starting in 15 minuts!”, “Room for panel ZZZ changed to IC 201”, “SportsTeam leads 2-1” “Go SportsTeam”, or back with the link sharing “Slides for talker PPP available here!”. So, interactive media yes, but social? I don’t know about that.

    • Chris February 18, 2016, 8:18 am

      You’ll want to try it to communicate with business from whom you need prompt help. There have been airport situations where I’ve been rescheduled for canceled flights within minutes versus sitting on hold or standing in line. Similar for retail and services.

  • DaisyAvalin February 17, 2016, 5:45 am

    I do agree with you, however Mr Fry has ‘left’ Twitter on several occasions previously due to himself or others taking offence to tweets/opinions shared.

    There comes a time when the individual must take responsibility for their own actions/reactions.

    Disclaimer: I have not seen the ‘joke’ that Mr Fry told at the BAFTAs, so have no opinion on that, but have seen a couple of the occasions he’s stormed off Twitter before, and I think a lot of it is overinflated to get a reaction.

    • Margo February 17, 2016, 10:28 am

      I disagree. I don’t think he has ‘stormed of’ at all. I think he has let, and he has give reasons as to why, which given his poularity is considerate of him. I think it is also worth bearing in mind that he has been very open about the fact that he sufffers from siginifiant mental health issues including depression and bipolar disorder. I think it is uncaritable to describe as ‘storming of’ or ‘overinflating’ a reaction which may well be simple self defence for the sake of his own health and wellbeing.

      If he left twitter and didn’t give an explanation no doubt he would be attacked for leaving all his followers in limbo.

      • DaisyAvalin February 17, 2016, 3:50 pm

        With regards to the ‘storming off’, it may not be the case here, but it has been in the past with Mr Fry, where he has taken extreme offence to something said on Twitter and had a tantrum about it. I apologise if this is not the case here but he is known for leaving/rejoining Twitter!

    • clairedelune February 17, 2016, 2:01 pm

      But when he’s there, his twitter game is strong! So I always hope that he’ll come back.

  • Just4Kicks February 17, 2016, 6:10 am

    My own personal opinion, trying to raise four kids to be good people, with Facebook, Twitter etc., is that this generation doesn’t know how to TALK to other people.
    Often, I will hear my two older kids talking about the “Twitter war” going on between other kids they know.
    One kid put something offensive on Twitter about another student, and it started a firestorm, which I repeatedly told my own kids to stay out of it.
    I said something along the lines of “why doesn’t Kid A just talk to Kid B at school, and settle things?”
    It’s just easier to post stuff on line, instead of having an actual conversation.
    At some point, you are going to have settle disputes in person, and none of these kids are going to know how to do that.

    • nannerdoman February 17, 2016, 3:00 pm

      Preach it!!

    • Amanda H. February 17, 2016, 3:41 pm

      Posting online gives you a feeling of anonymity and a “shield,” whether or not it’s actually true. It’s similar to the angry note wars when I was a kid, where two girls would write scathing letters back and forth at each other because then they didn’t have to deal with the other person trying to defend themselves in real time.

      • Just4Kicks February 18, 2016, 10:56 am

        @Amanda H. That is precisely what I was getting at, unsuccessfully maybe….
        Maybe my kids can explain to me when they get home what I did wrong. 😉

    • K February 18, 2016, 8:29 am

      “this generation doesn’t know how to TALK to other people”

      Please don’t stigmatise a whole generation just because your kids don’t understand this. The majority of children I meet are perfectly capable of talking to others with no problem at all.

      • Just4Kicks February 18, 2016, 10:54 am

        @K: Please don’t infer my children are stupid….They are all great kids, capable of holding thoughtful and intelligent conversations with myself, their dad, grandparents and teachers.
        My statement was more of a generalization of kid to kid communication.
        That is the “media age” we are living in.
        For some kids, it’s just easier if they are shy etc., to express themselves on Twitter and Facebook.
        Many teenagers feel like maybe they ARE part of the larger community when they post something on line and get positive comments or re-tweets.
        It can also go the other way, of course, with arguments that can escalate faster than dealing with a problem in person…face to face.
        It’s all well and good when everyone can connect with like minded teens, but in relation to an arguement, when they leave school and head out in the job force, if a coworker starts trouble and you have to work with that person everyday, some kids who have communicated with peers solely on line may find themselves ill equipped to handle an actual conversation.
        I’m not saying all kids in this generation are like this, but a majority of them may be.

  • Mustard February 17, 2016, 7:18 am

    I think this is the third time Stephen Fry has left twitter..

    • DoubleYou February 17, 2016, 11:13 am

      Stephen Fry leaving Twitter is a bit like Cher going on a Farewell Tour.

      • ketchup February 17, 2016, 5:56 pm

        Ha, I love how mustard is next to ketchup.

        • The Elf February 18, 2016, 9:22 am

          And DoubleYou gets double the condiments.

        • Kovi February 18, 2016, 12:28 pm

          The condiments are popular, here!

  • ketchup February 17, 2016, 7:26 am

    It has indeed become popular to be offended on behalf of others, and it seems speech online is often censured nowadays, because it might *gasp* offend someone. I’m all for deleting comments filled with irrational bile (swear word regurgitation), yes, but we should be careful when dealing with opinions that differ from the norm. If we mute their voices we will soon live in the illusion that everyone is of the same mind, and then our knowledge of the world will be very narrow indeed.
    However offending I find ‘the Return of Kings’ I would rather hear them speak their opinions so I can make myself aware of their misogyny. Let them speak, and reap their consequences.
    And other voices speaking of atheism (Stephen Fry himself) are often being silenced. Atheism is not the norm either…

    • The Elf February 18, 2016, 9:25 am

      Atheism is not the norm, and it does tend to attract trolls. So you have two options:
      1) Deal with the trolls in your own way (respond, ignore, block).
      2) Don’t post controversial or potentially offensive subjects that attract trolls.

      This is not the same thing as being silenced. It is choosing silence, or choosing to speak your mind knowing the consequences. I agree that alternate points of view are welcome, but not everyone wants the headache that comes with it.

      • Tracy W February 18, 2016, 5:28 pm

        But there are advantages to diversity to opinion. If people respond to abuse by choosing (2) then their silence harms all of us, because we get a biased view of people’s opinions out there. Just because someone doesn’t express their opinion doesn’t mean they won’t act on them, and you can’t persuade someone to act differently if you don’t know what they’re thinking.

        I had this feeling during the UK elections last year. I didn’t actually vote for the Conservatives but I had seriously considered it and I have a fair idea of why people did, from talking with others. I had some workmates who were shocked and horrified that the Conservatives won who I never bothered trying to explain because I knew that would just get me abuse. And certainly their abuse didn’t make me any more inclined to their views. So said people continue in ignorance about some 40% of voters.

    • Kovi February 18, 2016, 12:31 pm

      You can be offended and condemn what others say, while still supporting free speech. If he chooses to silence himself because he can’t handle being in the public eye, that’s on him. If he were receiving threats or something, that’d be totally different. If people are simply miffed about his joke, well, that’s the price of putting yourself out there, to begin with.

      • Tracy W February 18, 2016, 5:39 pm

        But all the people who followed Stephen Fry on twitter lose out too.

        If the price of putting yourself out there is too high, then everyone loses out.

        As for being offended and condemning what people say, I think when you do that, you naturally do lose some of the benefits of free speech, particularly if you do it aggressively. For a start, being offended and condemning is rather inconsistent with considering changing your own mind, so you’re less likely to learn.

        Secondly, if you do this a lot you’re not going to learn what others think, which means you’re going to struggle to persuade them to think differently. And you’re going to get nasty surprises when it turns out that not everyone agrees with you.

        Being offended and condemning has its place, but it has its costs and the more widely you apply it, the higher those costs.

  • abby February 17, 2016, 8:23 am

    Facebook came out just as I was graduating college, and I do have one, but I have never understood twitter. I went on the Twitter of my daughter’s 13 year old babysitter once, and quickly closed the page and decided there are just some pop cultures I don’t need to embrace. Twitter makes me feel very old.

    • Just4Kicks February 18, 2016, 1:14 pm

      @Abby: My kids bugged me for years to get on Facebook, and I finally let them help me set up my own account.
      The ONLY thing I got out of it was a few VERY unwelcome messages from old and destructive boyfriends from the past.
      One even had the nerve to ask me, “Hey….since you’re married with a bunch of kids, maybe you can help me get back MY kids who were given to my ex, sole custody….”
      Oh….I don’t think so.
      That was the day I made my kids help me delete the whole damn thing!

      • Just4Kicks February 18, 2016, 1:16 pm

        ….And, my husband and I do monitor their Twitter and instagram accounts closely, we just don’t post anything.

  • Mary February 17, 2016, 8:26 am

    Honestly I have a Twitter account. I follow about four users and have no followers. The main reason I got it was for British Royal Family news around the time of Prince George’s birth. I follow two other accounts to enter contests and the fourth is my fifteen year old so I can keep tabs on her Twitter activity.

    Basically I find that I waste enough time online. I don’t need another time sucker. By the way, I thought I heard that Twitter was going to do away with the 140 character limit?

  • JWH February 17, 2016, 8:48 am

    A lot of media sites use Twitter feeds only to post links to articles, and users use those feeds (like RSS feeds) to keep up with those sites.

  • NJ February 17, 2016, 9:40 am

    “And other voices speaking of atheism (Stephen Fry himself) are often being silenced.”

    Name one, other than Fry.

    • remi February 19, 2016, 11:09 pm

      We can’t, they stopped talking and left the public consciousness. What’s with the hostility?

  • Kat February 17, 2016, 9:45 am

    As a writer, I use Twitter to promote my brand. It’s a good way to connect with readers, particularly young ones.

    • Kovi February 18, 2016, 12:33 pm

      It’s a great way to connect with most anyone! I run a gaming channel, and I’m followed by fans and game developers/publishers, alike. I wouldn’t be where I am with my channel today, if Twitter wasn’t a major form of communication/advertising, for me.

    • Just4Kicks February 18, 2016, 1:18 pm

      @Kat: Good for you!!!
      If I may be nosy….I’m always looking for new music to enjoy….May I ask the name of your band?
      I’d love to check it out. 🙂

      • Just4Kicks February 18, 2016, 1:19 pm

        ….Oh, shoot….apparently I can’t read today.
        Brand, not band….so sorry!!!
        My apologies….And good luck to you!!!

        • Kat February 22, 2016, 1:57 pm

          Hehe no problem 😀 And thank you!

  • Green123 February 17, 2016, 9:57 am

    I like Twitter.

    It’s an excellent way of bringing together news updates, sports scores, people I like, and events – I use it a bit like I’d use an RSS feed). For example, during Wimbledon, I can follow BBC Sport and get live tennis scores even when I can’t watch (like when I’m at work…), I can get live up-to-date travel news from my local area, and instant news headlines, plus regular updates from bands I enjoy. Just today, I’m keeping abreast of the latest weather reports as we may have snow here tomorrow, following the latest on our local government’s budget discussions, and looking out for news on who might be headlining at a local music event.

    I also use Twitter to complain or enquire, publicly, to organisations about poor service, late trains etc. as this is a good way of eliciting a rapid response and a rapid resolution.

    I don’t use Twitter for long, detailed conversations. What’s the point if you only have 140 characters?

  • Christina February 17, 2016, 10:08 am

    I closed my Facebook for this exact reason. It no longer became a way to keep in touch. Instead it became a soapbox for people’s (hot button) opinions and ways to sell you things. And people don’t speak kindly on social media. I don’t fault Fry for opening and closing his account. It’s cathartic. I often take a break from mine, then come back when I see/hear about something interesting. I used to regularly step away from Facebook for a month or two. This time, however, it’s been almost a year and i have no desire to go back as of yet.

    I just started using Twitter regularly last year, though. But I almost only use it to follow TV shows, especially new ones. Social media is becoming incredibly important in letting studios know that their show is being watched. And when a show doesn’t have the greatest ratings, there are often hashtags that start to get it trending saying things like “#renew such and such show. I believe this is why shows that get cancelled end up getting picked up by other outlets, like a show going from a major network to a streaming service.

    And thanks in large part (more like entirely) to this site, I’ve realized I can just ignore upsetting tweets, because arguing is just not worth it.

    • Just4Kicks February 18, 2016, 1:24 pm

      When I had my Facebook, I had a good friend who ended up not speaking to me for awhile because of a remark (one I thought was fairly innocent, and not mean imo), in reference to the whole Penn State/Joe Paterno issue.
      I won’t say anything except we were on very different sides of the issue.
      We have since started speaking again, and she said it was unfair of her to blow me off completely for one comment, and others who shared my opinion.
      I also apologized for not explaining further (in person) why I disagreed with her.

  • Margo February 17, 2016, 10:25 am

    Twitter is a medium. Content can be good, bad or indifferent.
    I disagree that people, or ‘this generation’ don’t know how to talk. They not only know how to talk to people face to face, they also understand that twitter, and other forms of electronic and social media can be used for conversation.

    No one has to join twotter, or facebook, or instgram, or online fora. If you join and it works for you, great. If you don’t or it doesn’t, equally good.

    Speaking for myself, I have a twiotter account. I frequesntly have fun, interesting conversations with friends who live too far away for face to face conversations to be possible. I’ve also had, and seen, conversation and postings which are witty, meaningful and yes, which have depth and are insightful. It is, after all, possible to post several tweets in a row, or to use services such as twitlonger, if you can’t fit what you want into 140 characters.

    There are lots of fun and meaningful ways to use it. I know several writers who post mini-stories via twitter, it’s very demiocratic – it can be a way of interacting with people you don’t normally get to talk to. It has some advanatages which facebook doesn’t have, just asfacebook has advatanges that twitter doesn’t have, and internet fora have a different set of vantages and disadvantages again.

    Equally, it’s fun for posting amusing pictures of kittens and one-line jokes.

    For a celebrity like Fry who has millions of followers and who is sbjected to huge scrutiny, using social media is inevitably a totally different experience than it is for those of us who have a few hundred followers mostly known to us in person. If he currently feels it’s not a good plac efor him then it makes snese for him toleave. And if he decides to come back in the future, that’s fine too.
    I feel sorry for him – he made a joke about someone who was a personal friend of his, and who was herself not offended or upset by it. A lot of poeple who didn’t know either of them personally then attacked him on twitter. It was perhaps ill judged for him to make the joke in public, but unfortunately his profile means that the reaction was totally out of proportion.

    I do think it is quite narrow minded to dismiss something you (generic you) don’t understand or which doesn’t appeal to you personally. Twitter has millions of users, and clearly that wouldn’t be the case if there were not large numbers of people who fnd that its redeeming features outweigh it’s limitations.

    • Jays February 17, 2016, 6:20 pm

      Exactly. I have an account. I use it to publicize my work (tweeting out links), offer pithy observations from time to time, follow news stations (it’s often the quickest way to get breaking news updates) and follow my favorite authors.

      There is nothing wrong with Twitter, if you take it for what it is. Long, involved conversations? Nope. But there’s nothing wrong with that.

      You’re certainly free to dislike Twitter. And you never have to go near it. No one’s forcing you to get or keep an account. But honestly, the original post and many of the comments do come across as “I don’t understand or like this, so no one should.” The kind of comment my grandparents used to make about computers.

    • Dee February 17, 2016, 6:51 pm

      Margo – One cannot “talk” on Twitter, or Facebook, or … It’s (supposed to be) a form of writing. The problem is that social media becomes so commonplace that people start to accept the incredibly low standard of grammar, punctuation, etc. that is displayed there. Young people growing up with social media learn to communicate via that realm, and they learn to accept the incredibly poor quality of language that they read, over the often very limited exposure they have with proper texts such as books. I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with social media if posters weren’t so insistent on being mistaken for Grade 2 dropouts.

      Your argument for the potential quality of social media is in direct contrast to the quality of your posting here. You don’t seem to be bothered by the frequent and significant language mistakes you post, as if language doesn’t matter in writing. Well, it does, and you prove the argument that too much social media exposure can lower even the most basic of expectations in writing and communication. It’s difficult to take a post seriously if the writer doesn’t want to communicate seriously.

      • Shoebox February 18, 2016, 1:43 pm

        Dee… With all due respect (and speaking as a published author) , I’d suggest that using correct language to take potshots at random strangers’ writing ability is a greater crime than making a few grammar mistakes, or even a lot of grammar mistakes.

        I’m having a bit of trouble parsing your argument here. You seem to be under the impression that written language is Serious Business that must exclusively be used to convey Serious Thought, which even such a righteous intellectual as yourself must realize is patent nonsense. Language is a flexible,constantly-evolving thing, and can take quite a lot of manipulation without losing its authority. Just ask EE Cummings, PG Wodehouse, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf or a score of others. (For that matter, try telling archy and mehitabel that they aren’t communicating properly, and see how far that gets you.)

        Social media is just another form of linguistic experiment, writing meant to reflect the casual rhythms of verbal social interaction. (It also, incidentally, in no wise prevents the user from being exposed to more literary usage elsewhere.) The contents of which are often justifiably alarming, I’ll grant you. But trying to map out the higher ground solely on grammatical terms is just silly. 🙂

        • Dee February 18, 2016, 7:37 pm

          Social media is an experiment, yes, but it is not a linguistic one. There is no testing of whether the language works or not. It is a free-for-all in terms of language, subject matter and manners. The only experimentation is with the investors, whether or not they can make money on the fad social media gimmick of the day.

          I don’t care how a person posts on social media, if their grammar is crap or not. I don’t care if the subject matter is banal. I give a lot of leeway for those whose first language is clearly not the same as mine. They should be commended for doing their best to communicate clearly. But if a person, such as Margo, wants me to consider her viewpoint that social media can have value, and she wants me to read her posts or others posts on social media sites, then why should I, if they don’t consider their own posts to be worthy of good language? Why would anyone expect a reader to spend time translating spelling mistakes, run-on sentences, glaring and misleading grammatical errors? I take a writer’s post at face value; if the post is sloppy then it is clear to me the writer doesn’t think their post has enough value to spend the time to write it properly. If Margo doesn’t take what she has to say seriously enough then I won’t either. That’s my point.

          • Mustard February 19, 2016, 8:03 am

            I assumed Margo was posting on her ‘phone when I saw the typos. And anyone who uses ‘fora’ as the plural of ‘forum’ is not a sloppy writer.

      • maryanne February 18, 2016, 4:01 pm

        So Dee, you don’t like social media because people use imperfect grammar and misspell words? Really? Sounds rather snobbish to me. It also doesn’t make sense that you believe language mistakes are a big enough offense to entirely dismiss a well-thought out argument. In case you are unaware, being able to speak/write a language perfectly is not the sole indicator of intelligence or worth.

      • Erin February 18, 2016, 6:16 pm

        But that’s the thing, Margo’s comment was completely comprehensible. Were there occasional typos? Yes. However, that shouldn’t be considered enough to entirely discount an argument (or generation, as text speak is so often used to do, as though shortened speech is a brand new invention constructed by teenagers out of laziness), particularly when the internet is filled with people who don’t speak english as a first language. Is quality of writing an important part of delivering an argument? Yes. Should it be? I don’t think so. The important part of an argument to me is just that, the argument itself, not the language it’s being presented in. If the language is so garbled it needs clarification, then by all means ask for it, but do not dismiss an entire persons views because of it, and definitely not because they misspelled something.

        And really now, young people have a limited exposure to books? Those who want to read will read, just as was true for kids decades ago. How they text is not proportional to their performance in formal writing exercises. I have seen students who consistently rank in debate tournaments text with a traditionally horrifying mixture of no capitals, slang, acronyms, emojis and excess punctuation, and it works for them. And the combination is often unique enough that individuals can tell each other apart just from the texting style (allowing for three people to have a smooth conversation with only two phones). If you want to text using perfect grammar and punctuation, go for it! But don’t drag others because they don’t, especially young people. Because for all those broken grammar rules you find offensive? I guarantee at least half carry connotations you aren’t picking up on. (the other half are simply convenient or typos. Which should be just as good a reason as any).

        As for the quality of media, the quality is directly proportional to who the user chooses to become involved with. I’ve always had a knack for finding calmer groups of people who would be willing to calmly debate any differing points of view, and it’s made social media a genuinely enjoyable place to be and communicate.

        • Dee February 19, 2016, 12:24 am

          Isn’t it convenient, though, that on this forum the submitters of original stories for printing on Ehell receive a significant amount of criticism when their writing is awkward, but the people who do that commenting and criticism don’t want to have to conform to the same standards? So many complaints are made, with regard to those stories, about the text being confusing, or tiring, too much info, not enough info, too many letters used instead of names, bad grammar, and so on. People saying that they give up when it becomes too much work to get through the poorly written story. Well, I got tired trying to get through Margo’s comments, stumbling over all the careless mistakes, and thought her comments that social media has value to be completely negated by the fact that she doesn’t value her own comments enough to proofread them. So, is it important for a story or comment to be written in a manner that wouldn’t cause an elementary school teacher to cry, or is it okay to just pretend that only the gist is important, and then never criticize the story submitters ever again, even when they’re writing is cringe-worthy? As I said before, if the writer doesn’t take their own piece seriously then why should I take what is written seriously? Can’t have it both ways.

          • Shoebox February 19, 2016, 11:46 am

            Bit of a false equivalency that, though, isn’t it? The complaints about lack of detail/clarity in the posts are about not being able to understand the story that’s been submitted for the specific purpose of analysis.

            By contrast, there’s absolutely nothing about Margo’s comments that’s preventing you from understanding her; your complaint is solely that she’s not “taking her piece seriously” enough. In other words, you can’t value her message unless it meets your (evidently extremely high) standards of language/grammar usage

            I can appreciate your passion for language and its use, and I do take your point about making an argument well. Where I still disagree strongly is in the apparent absolute equivalency you’re drawing between the value of an argument and its expression. This isn’t an academic setting and you’re not required to grade submissions–it’s an Internet forum, the equivalent of a casual discussion among casual acquaintances. Extrapolating from your attitude here, it must be assumed that, unless they achieve your personal standard of literacy and articulation, anyone who presumes to engage you in conversation in the course of a day–no matter how interesting their ideas or how passionate they are in the expression of them–must expect to be met with a curled lip and cutting comment.

            Again, forgive me, but I cannot imagine this makes you tremendously popular at parties. 🙂 If you’re happy on your lofty linguistic perch, I wish you joy; just be aware it does come across as rather ridiculously snobbish, and humourless into the bargain.

          • Margo February 20, 2016, 5:03 am

            Yes, I was typing on my phone, which is getting very old, it is practically impossible to scroll back and correct typos. (It has also recently developed a fault and the spell-checker is currently stuck on Turkish, so it’s not very helpful in allowing me to spot errors as I make them)

            But of course you should feel free to assume carelessness rather than responding to the actual content of the comment.

            I personally tend towards the view that is is perfectly normal to use different levels of formality, and varying standards of care, depending in the situation. I use more formal, precise language when I am preparing a formal business letter than when writing to a friend. I use more formal language and take greater care, and plan carefully, if I am giving a speech or formal presentation than when chatting with friends, and equally, I will use more or less time re-reading or proof-reading if I am (say) submitting a job application online than when I am posting on a blog.

            To me, this site is the online equivalent of a casual chat with friends, not submissions to court.

            I appreciate the comments of the other posters who were able to make the distinction – thank you!

          • InTheEther February 26, 2016, 5:08 pm


            “She didn’t write it how I want it written, so I’m just going to ignore everything she says.”

            You have basically admitted to sticking your fingers in your ears and going “LaLaLa can’t hear you”.


  • NostalgicGal February 17, 2016, 10:35 am

    I have had no need for Twitter, Myspace, Facebook, or instagram. Now that I have a ‘decent’ phone with a screen I can read and a ‘keyboard’ I can actually type at with a fingertip, I will text (I used to have to pay for each text so I never did that either). I don’t need it to get on with my life. My friends also don’t have to text me about what they had for lunch or the hangnail they just got either (we save it for needful communications, not ‘blathering’). There’s a big difference. Who cares if whoever that is has or doesn’t have an account, get over it and get on with living.

    • Tracy W February 18, 2016, 5:43 pm

      I would hate to live a life where I only did what I had to do.

      • NostalgicGal February 18, 2016, 9:08 pm

        Amen. I have plenty of life and it doesn’t revolve around how ‘connected’ I am online. It’s possible to do so. And enjoy your life too. I have a younger friend with a pair of toddlers, and their grandmother gave them kindles for Christmas, and oh the tantrums because mommy programmed them to only be active for an hour a day-with simple learning games! When they shut off, the kids throw an unholy fit every day. She’s considering putting them away very soon when they are going to go on a trip and not find them again for a long while… she wants kids that go to the park and play, read books, know how to talk to people, interact with others and experience life.

        There’s moderation and there’s extremes, and as stated above in the original post, the ‘quitting’ is as much about ‘lookit me’ as it is about a comment about the media itself. Many people do enjoy and use all those mediums to their advantage, more power to them. Some abuse them. Some are addicted to them. Some as mentioned, don’t know how to be anything but plugged in, and don’t know how to interact in the real world anymore. At our screen, behind our tech, it’s a lot easier to hide. Trolls abound in any medium, even print.

        Your life, your choices. I say, go for it!

        • Tracy W February 20, 2016, 4:34 pm

          I’m glad to hear that you enjoy your life. Your first comment, where you talked about using free social media services in terms of whether you *needed* to use them or not, and where you apparently implied that communications from friends were either ‘needful’ or blathering, made you sound like someone terribly stressed and time-constrained.

          I’ve gone through times where I’ve had to pare back entirely to what I needed and had to do and had no spare energy for frivolous fun things like a witty message for a friend and I never found that enjoyable. But each to their own.

          • NostalgicGal February 21, 2016, 3:24 pm

            There is a difference between, ‘witty’ or ‘funny’ or the like, and OMG look at what I had for lunch (picture of sandwich that looks like an ordinary sandwich) sent out to everyone they know and repeat same caliber of communication several if not dozens of time a day. Email, friends that like to pass stuff on that has been forwarded at least six times and they send me several a day, I usually ask them to take me off their distribution list nicely and they are kind enough to do so (especially the large .wmv attachments that never wanted to play anyways).

            It’s a way to communicate, yes, but also, some restraint. The slab in my pocket allows me to remain reachable, allows me to reach out, also takes pictures and lets me surf if I have to.

            I have had some health issues dragging my time down, but. Some need and want to be more connected, that is their choice. My meaning was you don’t have to be to still enjoy your life and remain connected to others as you and they need. No matter what the medium. I have been on forums since the day of dialup acoustic 300 baud modems… but, my life doesn’t revolve around them. For some people, whatever the social contact medium, it does. For others it doesn’t. Exactly, your last sentence, to each their own. It’s personal choice. Back to the topic of the Original Post, I say it’s more a ‘lookit me’ maneuver than a real move, as it’s said the person in the post has quit the medium a few times already (and levered it on OTHER media to their advantage).

  • mark February 17, 2016, 10:55 am

    Twitter is for “twits” 😉 (Bad joke I know)

    Seriously though twitter seems useful as a notification service and maybe for share random thoughts. I’ve never gotten a twitter account mainly because I’m not curious about some random celebrity popping a zit and I don’t want my phone beeping because of it.

    I like being disconnected.

  • Anna February 17, 2016, 11:09 am

    I agree with much of this and do not have a Twitter account myself, but there are certainly several instances where it is useful and reasonable. Twitter is an excellent way to disseminate pieces of emergency or useful information–police departments and government agencies take advantage of this. in the midst of a natural or man-made emergency, Twitter is used to communicate quickly with a lot of people about safety or resources. Businesses and artists connect with their customers and fans directly. I have some friends who are teachers and use Twitter to communicate and share information with their students–for example, if there is a news item relating to something in class, it is easily shared.

    Like many things, Twitter is just a tool that can be used well or poorly.

  • Mojo February 17, 2016, 11:09 am

    I love the Stephen Fry ‘Offensive’ quote (if you don’t mind a little bad language, look it up). Those who were offended by his joke are indeed just whining.

    The butt of his joke wasn’t offended, and didn’t need anyone to stand up for her, and the context of a presenter ribbing awards attendees is well founded. He’s right to stay well out of it.

    • Kirsten February 17, 2016, 3:47 pm

      I disagree. I was really surprised that Stephen Fry commented that the winner of the best costume design award had come to the ceremony dressed as a bag lady. It seemed rude and nasty, and completely unnecessary. I and the rest of the tv audience had no way of knowing that he is good friends with the woman in question and that he had pre-approved the comment with her. It just came across as snide.

      As for twitter, nothing about it is inherently good or bad. It’s a tool, and you can choose how you use it. Not using it isn’t morally superior, using it doesn’t make people stupid or uncommunicative. If you’re a pillock online, chances are you’re a pillock in real life, and vice versa.

    • ginger ale February 18, 2016, 11:27 am

      It’s funny that this was posted yesterday, because I was actually thinking about the Stephen Fry situation yesterday morning, and how it relates to telling “inside jokes” in public.

      If you bully your friends in private, because that’s how you communicate with each other, then it’s fine.

      If you bully your friends in public, in front of people who don’t understand that aspect of your relationship, then naturally people will think you’re a bully.

      It reminds me of a party I went to a few months ago, where a man made a loud anti-lesbian comment. I turned around and saw that he was talking to a lesbian and they were both laughing, so I realized it must be an inside joke between them. But I still (as a bisexual woman who was not very well-acquainted with either of them) was upset by having heard such a loud and aggressive comment (especially at a party for LGBT people!). It was not a very good “first impression” for him to make.

  • Becca February 17, 2016, 11:41 am

    Ah twitter, I probably am one of the few that will actively admit that I love the place.

    It’s for social commentary about things that are going on right at the moment. I look at it as a mass text to my friends more than anything, much like a group chat in a way. When used to socialize and share, it’s rarely vile in my experience. Yes, we have had “fights” elsewhere that spill over into passive aggressive garbage tweets, sigh.

    We often use it to watch tv together, since my friends and I are separated by many miles. Maybe it’s something huge like the Oscars or maybe it’s something ridiculous like some murder mystery on Lifetime network. We’re in the same spot, popping back and forth about our reactions to the show.

    I think it’s nice to condense yourself into 140 characters at time. It’s helped me to become more to the point, cutting out the unnecessary words in between, when I’m naturally long winded when it comes to social media.

    I get that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and I absolutely understand why high profile folks want to stay away from it. It’s disgusting to be live tweeting a hockey game, something bad happens and suddenly a player is getting the worst stuff spit at him online. I’ve seen wishes of the worst things we deal with in life, all because a guy missed a goal or because he scored on someone’s favorite team, blah. It’s basically like being at a game in that situation, since you hear that garbage trickle out of some people’s mouths in public crazily enough.

    I’ve met folks and maintained friendships with twitter. To be honest, some of us of use Facebook for the “family” and twitter for the friends. In that way where I want to take my mom and dad to dinner, I go to the nice restaurant with things they want to eat and atmosphere they like (kitty memes and silly jokes for Facebook). Then twitter is where I go and have drinks with my friends after a long work week, we just want to dance, laugh, possibly make somewhat crass remarks. So I totally get why folks don’t enjoy it, it’s why I just smile when people who know me casually find out I’m less wound up tight and proper than my work persona suggests.

  • stacey February 17, 2016, 11:52 am

    The “dressed as a bag lady” joke is in poor taste. I don’t think that the issue is Twitter so much as the fact that some people are inclined to appreciate the platform of fame as long as it allows them to receive positive feedback. The rest of the discussion about which platform is the problem is a “red herring”. If you misspeak in private, you are likely to be censured by only your own conscience or those few in attendance who take the trouble to express their views. If you misspeak in public, the scope of social backlash is going to be commensurate with the scope of the audience addressed. More people on hand simply means more voices will respond. Any of us can get a small taste of this by posting in the comments section on Etiquettehell or of a newspaper. Mr. Fry is reaping the fruits of his own poor judgement in not pausing to reflect on whether his audience would appreciate the joke he attempted. Humor is a very tricky subject as there are a great many things that are funny from one perspective, but terribly UN-funny from another. Make a joke that your best friend stinks? Hilarious, as a performer. Dress it in the demographic of a marginalized and sometimes abused population? Good luck to you, you are about to be metaphorically run out of town on a rail…..

  • CJ February 17, 2016, 12:03 pm

    The only time that Twitter has ever been beneficial to me was Monday when Comcast experienced a nationwide outage. My service went done, I was not able to get through on any customer service line, and there was no information out there… except for Twitter, where people all over the country reporting issues. Then I knew to just sit back and wait it out.

  • Vicki February 17, 2016, 12:29 pm

    Part of what I use Twitter for is breaking news, including bus problems and forecasts of weather hazards. There’s no need for profundity in “Expect 30-60 minute delays on all traffic on I-405.” That’s filling a role similar to a “traffic and weather every ten minutes” news radio station, but with a broader scope. I never used WCBS-AM as my sole source of news, and the broadcasters didn’t expect me to.

    Another part is feeds that say “I have a new article up about $topic, here’s the link,” which is handy for following bloggers who post irregularly.

    Oddly, I find Twitter easier to deal with and more useful than Facebook, because its idea of what I actually want to see is closer to accurate. (I never did manage to convince Facebook that I was more interested in posts from my best friend than in posts from a prolific acquaintance who had more Facebook “friends” in common with me.) I’ll take LiveJournal over either, but can’t seem to convince most of my friends to go back there, and Usenet has been basically dead for years.

  • Dee February 17, 2016, 12:32 pm

    I can’t understand what people twit on Twitter. They don’t post in full sentences so it’s anyone’s guess what they are trying to say. What a waste of time. But anything that is meant to be said in public can’t be very specific, really, or meaningful, if it’s meant for the masses. It’s like those mass-mailed holiday letters. They use a lot of words but don’t say anything. It’s much ado about nothing, while ignoring the real consequence of social media – the dumbing down of young people. They think social media is representative of proper language and communication, and that’s frightening. I can’t wait for social media to die.

    • Margo February 18, 2016, 9:24 am

      I haveto say, if that is your esperience of twitter that’s down to the people whose tweets you read / follow. I follow around 600 people on my feed and all of them post things which are clear, and , the majority of the time, which are in full, grammatically correct sentences.
      Not eveything which is said on twitter is said in public – you can send private message, you can also lock your account so that only your own friends can see what you post.
      It can be useful to say things in (semi-) public as, just like when you have a conversation with a friend in public, other friends can join in – think of it a little like circulating at a party; you may start by chatting to Tom, but if your mutual friend Jane shows up she can easily join in with the conversation.

      It’s a platform. If you only follow poorly educated or shallow individuals then you are going to experience it as somewhere shallow and stupid.
      If you follow interesting, thoughtful people you are going to experience it as a thoughtful, interesting place.

      Personally, as a direct result of being on twitter, I have:
      – Appeared as an extra in a movie
      – Been added to the guest list for big-name gig
      – Made new friends who I have gone on to met in person
      – been able to maintain contact with, and regular conversation with, friends who live in differnt countries to myself
      – found free and face-value tickets for sold out events where scalpers were selling tickets for 10 times the face value
      – Had conversations with a number of writers whose work I enjoy
      – got advance notice of events, enabling me to get tickets I would not have been able to get any other way
      – participated in Q&A sessions at events despite being on a diferent continent
      – got quick and positive resolution to customer service issues, including where more conventional options didn’t work
      – Been able to help in getting emergency services to a friend who needed them, despite being in a different country and timezone
      – Had direct conversations with actors after seeing them on stage
      – played games
      – written haiku
      – become a beta reader for a published author
      – attended events while in a foreign country, and withou having kow about those events before travelling

      It’s also made it easy for me to intereact with people from a wide range of backgrounds, ages, social classes etc. Social Media is exactly that – a Medium. The meduium is not the message, and it can be used for messages good, bad and indifferent.

      If ou don’t want to use it, don’t. But don’t assume that no one else can, or should. And don’t assume that an entire generation is stupid or uneducated simply becaue you don’t understand one facet of their social lives.

      • Dee February 18, 2016, 5:30 pm

        I don’t follow anyone on Twitter. Why would I? There’s no need for it, as the people I like are capable of far better ways of communicating than by those unintelligible sound bites. But I do read what people have written on Twitter because it is increasingly used by mainstream media to pad a story and is frequently the main form of information dissemination from politicians and leaders. If I want to know the latest information on an issue I am often forced to read tweets. Then I’ll get the incomplete story, with the abbreviations and silly hashtags that mean nothing, and I can glean a little information that allows me to research it further in an attempt to understand the issue as a whole; that is, if the person hasn’t wasted the time making tweets at the expense of actual, legitimate forms of communication. Do I want to read it this absurd way on Twitter? No. Is it my choice that my leaders and mainstream media opt for Twitter rather than a proper dissemination of the issue in the public eye? No. So, no, I don’t follow Twitter. I am forced to read tweets because that is all I’m sometimes offered. The quality and usage of Twitter prove to me that everyday Idiocracy is coming closer to reality.

    • Vicki February 19, 2016, 11:26 am

      You do realize that you are saying, in public, that anything meant to be said in public can’t be specific or meaningful?

      In theory, anyone in the world could read my tweets, and I bear that in mind when I post them. But that’s like being careful not to put anything secret on a postcard, or announce secrets while talking to a friend in the park. I don’t particularly expect the letter carrier, or the person walking their dog near me, to care about my day-to-day life. I’m mostly talking to a much smaller group of people, but open to the possibility of a passerby or friend of a friend saying “Cucumber ice cream? Really? Where?”

      • Dee February 20, 2016, 12:25 am

        Vicki – Are you actually saying that anything said on Twitter is specific or meaningful? Because I haven’t seen any evidence of that, and I can’t imagine it can be done in so short a message. I see incomplete sentences and thoughts and words that are unconnected to each other. Meaningless unless one is eager to do decoding. Or short phrases that are about as shallow as you can get that make no difference to anyone reading it. But that’s what’s passing for news nowadays. It’s as if they’re all running in a race to the bottom.

        • Kirsten February 21, 2016, 5:34 pm

          Twitter is a tool. Some people use it in a way others find meaningful. Some people use it in a way others find shallow. Dismissing 974 million twitter accounts as shallow and meaningless says a lot more about you than it does about twitter.

  • Ashley February 17, 2016, 1:11 pm

    I don’t understand the appeal of twitter.

    I just don’t.

    Fry will be back though, this is either the third or fourth time he’s “quit” twitter.

  • lakey February 17, 2016, 1:11 pm

    I believe that the real problem isn’t Twitter, it’s some of the people who use it. There are people who put way too much effort into looking for offense.

    Also, as a couple of commenters have said, some people have lost the ability to communicate in real life. I’ve seen too many misunderstandings about things posted on Facebook or Twitter, where all the involved parties have to do is to make a phone call and talk to each other. Simple.

    • rindlrad February 17, 2016, 3:59 pm

      Agreed. The perpetually offended will always be able to find something to be outraged about. Twitter is just the medium of the minute. What “offended” wasn’t even on Twitter.

      I wish Mr. Fry had weathered the storm rather than deactivate his account. I enjoy his humor and I’m sorry that I no longer have a choice to share his thoughts thanks to a bunch of joyless scolds who don’t have the maturity to simply not read his feed, watch him on TV, etc., if it offends them.

  • Kelly February 17, 2016, 1:22 pm

    I don’t understand the indictment of Twitter – most people I know use it to get information, not to engage in “battles.” I follow a number of news sources, local and national and global, as well as accounts for various sports teams and leagues. I find it a great way to get breaking news and other information, in a way that Facebook is decidedly not.

  • technobabble February 17, 2016, 1:33 pm

    I have a Twitter, but I never use it. I really don’t understand it, which, I guess, makes me old.

  • Kate February 17, 2016, 2:58 pm

    I don’t see a need for Twitter, Facebook, etc. I know my mother, as well as people like our honored Admin, use it to keep in touch, but I can’t understand that use.

    What is so different between Facebook and sending a mass email to the people you want to keep in touch with? It is far more private and secure, you can include as many pictures as you want, etc.

    On a related note, the ease of communication, as well as the anonymity seems to have made it far easier for people to post cruel and frivolous things. Frivolous like taking a picture of your sandwich and posting it to facebook for 200 of your closest “friends”, i.e. everyone you have ever met, to look at.

    It would be one thing if other people enjoyed it, but from all the complaints (and no praise) I have read over the years about this sort of thing, it seems no one does. It seems more about showing off, saying “Look at me, pay attention to me”. I don’t think anyone’s nearest and dearest are interested in looking at what they are eating on a daily basis.

    It only takes a few seconds to post something online, as opposed to writing or typing a letter, addressing the envelope and putting a stamp on it, and putting it in your mailbox or walking it to a mailbox. This gives you time to think about whether you want to say what you wrote, whether it is worth the expense of the stationary, the stamp, and the time. It gives you time to think about how the other person will interpret it, and if it is something that really needs to be said or if it is something that will amuse the other person.

    Really if someone cares to keep in touch with you, and you with them, why not go to the effort of keeping up a correspondence? I have heard people talk about how great facebook is for keeping in touch, but how important is that relationship with your grade-school classmate, or college acquaintance, if you can’t be bothered to do more than include them on your “friends” list and never bother to communicate with them personally, directly, individually? Do you really care about them, and vice versa?

    I hope I don’t sound mean or angry here, I am actually very baffled. I just don’t understand these sites, or the way people use them at all. And because I am anticipating a comment on it, I am under the age of 35, which is as much as I care to say about my age, but I am very familiar with technology, the internet, etc.

    • Tracy W February 18, 2016, 3:37 am

      Email isn’t any more secure, you have no control over someone pressing forward. Fair few people have been burnt by that.

      Personally I do enjoy Facebook. It’s non-intrusive, doesn’t demand my attention like email, I can just dip into it. Plus people change their email addresses more often than Facebook accounts so it’s easier to keep in touch. Minor differences, but enough for me.

      I am a bit surprised that you think that personal one-on-one communication is the only thing that matters, my friends are sometimes witty, they have diverse interests, live all over the world, plus I like cute baby pictures. None of my friends are cruel, but plenty of them are frivolous from time to time, thankfully. It would be a very dull life for me if everyone was serious all the time.

      I think people have very different friend preferences. Quite a few people I’m friends with on Facebook I quite enjoy catching up every few years when we’re in the same part of the world. And there’s some authors I follow who I never expect to have personal direct communication with but whose posts I enjoy just as much as I enjoy their paper writings. If you only want to read things written by people who you have personal direct communication with, that’s fine for you, but judging by the popularity of writers, poets and actors through out the ages, mine is not a totally unique preference.

      I suppose this just comes down to, people have different preferences.

    • Suomynona February 18, 2016, 8:49 am

      There are some of us, though, for whom physical correspondence isn’t an option. Electronic communication through social media is easier and better at actually keeping in touch for some people.

      I live in an apartment complex. The past four or five people who have lived at my apartment never forwarded their mail, which meant that every day my mailbox filled up completely with all of the mail that was supposed to be coming to them. I’m talking government benefits information, bank statements, everything. I wrote return to sender on it all, sent it back every day, and soon enough I stopped getting mail. Any mail. Even mine. This is not the first address I’ve lived at where mail service was spotty at best.

      I’ve got a friend who does dog rescues and has three kids. I find it amazing that she can post a quick update to Facebook to let everyone know what’s going on. “Sparky’s out of the cone, he’s settling in, look at all these pictures with him and the boys!” “It was Kevin’s third birthday the other day, he’s growing up so fast!” The cost involved for her to print out pictures and send them via regular mail is nearly prohibitive. As to the mass email, I personally have three email addresses that I check with varying degrees. Some of my friends have upwards of four or five, which again, they cycle through which is their primary. I check my email about once or twice a week unless I’m expecting something, so Facebook becomes the fastest means of communication for these things. She cares about us enough to include us in the very small group of people who see these updates, and we care enough about her to comment. Sometimes the comments on the pictures is more like four or five of us sitting in a room, talking, except we happen to be in three different time zones across two continents and the conversation is a bit slower. It’s the only real opportunity we have to all connect at once.

      As to the point with personal, direct, individual communication, there are those options on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr that I’m aware of. I don’t use any other social media, so I can’t speak to their interfaces, but FB Messenger is more useful to me than text messaging sometimes. I can have a conversation that carries from my phone to my laptop to my work computer with no issues.

      Another reason I love FB and Twitter is to follow local groups. There’s a comedy group that’s local, some good friends of mine are in it. I work with one of the guys, and I still only find out about the shows on Facebook. The fans of this group can interact with each other online between shows (sometimes it’s two weeks, sometimes it’s three months between shows). We can share photos of shows with each other and the comedy group members. It’s a great platform for the kind of friends you have in a specific niche. I wouldn’t probably go hang out with some of these people outside the comedy shows, but seeing them there is always fantastic, and the fact that we do have a forum to connect makes it great.

      I understand it’s not for everyone, and if it’s not for you, that’s fantastic. I’ve stepped away from it all for months before, and while I was content for a while, in the end it made me feel so isolated from everyone I know that it’s just a good option for me.

    • Library Diva February 18, 2016, 10:34 am

      I can tell you about some fabulous uses for Facebook through my own circle of friends:

      1. My husband’s friends had a child who was born with a rare disease. This disease is so recently-discovered that the first children to be diagnosed with it are only college-age. Their son sees the man who discovered it, in fact. The diagnosis was absolutely terrifying, as you can imagine. Their mom has found a Facebook group for other parents who have children with this disease. It has been a great source of strength and comfort to her. They’ve been able to exchange information, provide support for one another, and even meet up in person a few times.

      2. A couple of years ago, a terrible snowstorm struck my area. Seven people died, several buildings collapsed, and parts of the region were shut down entirely for a few days. Because of the way the storm hit, people in other parts of the region were almost completely unaffected. Someone organized a “storm help” Facebook group. Shovel brigades were organized, and food and medicine got to people who were unable to get out of their homes.

      3. I participate in a lost-and-found pets Facebook group that has gotten many missing animals home.

      I do like Facebook. I like to see the funny things other people post, and read what’s on people’s minds.

    • Becca February 18, 2016, 1:28 pm

      My boyfriend and my best friends all constantly text one another throughout the day with some boring things that would blow your mind.

      I was just discussing energy drinks and the flavor options out there because heaven forbid my loving boyfriend make the same mistake I did by trying that awful grape flavored Kickstarter 🙁

      I don’t believe you’re mean or angry, I think that you are just of a different thought process and that’s absolutely understandable. I don’t expect everyone to understand why I have friends I talk about my bodily functions with.

      I have found my best friend from grade school via Facebook last year. We were separated by a move in 5th grade but she tracked me down. We messaged on Facebook and got back in touch, then we started hanging out, I have bonded with all her amazing children and taken on an aunt role in their lives that they otherwise would have lost out on if it wasn’t for Facebook being available!

      My mom reconnected (truly) with her cousins, in the same way. You can use it for so much more than just posting updates or kitten pictures. It’s basically a huge phonebook, talk to folks who have planned reunions recently.

      Granted the flip side is reunions are slimming down because you already know where everyone is, so what’s the point, right?

      It’s bland to many people, that’s only normal. I don’t expect everyone to understand the craze though because I don’t understand a lot of things that others find entertaining or interesting.

    • NostalgicGal February 18, 2016, 9:32 pm

      The art of correspondence is dying, and I still write the occasional letter, send a card, etc. However, it is the issue of time, the electronic media is faster. I don’t want to know about what you ate for lunch as a mass mailout either.

      I have friends around the world, and our nice way of staying in touch is Skype. Type-Skype or connect to be able to talk, sometimes we gather and have a sort of conference call with several at once. We can still send pictures if we want. Use a webcam and scare everyone else (hehe). But it is communication in realtime and yes we can hear and see each other. It’s the next best thing to being there, and for some of us, the only way we could afford to. Some of us have been this way, one step away from a letter, for a good 20 years, going from email to Messenger to Skype. We still send physical stuff between each other. Some have some of the other social media; I type on here and a few other forums on occasion but email, the occasional text, and phone calls and Skype, are how we stay in touch. You could be my child, dear, but. We are free to choose what we wish to use. That’s the important part.

  • Cora February 17, 2016, 3:37 pm

    Twitter can be useful for some professions. I work in higher education, and when you want to get the word out to kids that you’re having an event, Twitter is great, better than Facebook. So, “the office” has a Twitter account, but I don’t personally (never saw the appeal). It’s also good for certain kinds of updates: I work with scholarship competitions, and some students get really twitchy over what’s going on with their application. I can tweet things like, “We have reviewed all applications and all are complete; we will be in touch with each applicant by date,” and that eliminates a TON of panicked phone calls and emails.

  • kingsrings February 17, 2016, 7:29 pm

    I don’t use Twitter either for the exact reasons Admin stated. I just can’t confine myself within their character limits, and I don’t want to read a bunch of tweets that are full of bad grammar because of those limitations. Facebook is enough social media for me! I don’t need any more.

  • Lexie February 17, 2016, 8:43 pm

    Like everything, Twitter can be great fun, but can be ruined by the rude, unpleasant and nasty. I enjoy any medium that forces people to get to the point.

  • Diane February 17, 2016, 9:10 pm

    I use Twitter for emergency information. Living in a wildfire prone area it is the best source of immediate information from all the local fire agencies.
    I like to keep my ‘social wars ‘ offline where they can never come back to haunt me.

  • Gabriele February 18, 2016, 1:32 am

    I didn’t think I’d use Twitter but I’ve found it useful for impersonal purposes.
    I’ve been following the various regional NWS (National Weather Service) for updates when friends were planning on travelling in an area expecting extreme storms. I also use it because I won’t waste my
    time waiting for tv weather reports.
    I follow a newspaper reporter (business) who not only has useful info but also a great sense of humor.
    There are people who post productive, positive things and being able to ‘heart’ them supports what they do (I seldom post) and then there’s the occasional link that lightens my day, today’s was about a mailman being attacked by wild turkeys (with tape of the 911 call).
    So whatever else happened today I could always be thankful that I was not being attacked by wild turkeys nor was my mail delivery being held up by marauding birds.

    I use Facebook, but not for personal matters.
    When I stopped working I followed just about every advice column out there and posted on a lot of them. Then I decided I should be less ‘giving’ and more ‘receiving’ and just read and learn. And then I stopped following some (and deleted the links) because, well I guess I just got tired of those. One woman retired and others behind a pay wall weren’t worth the cost to visit…
    I realized that the online communities had become a substitute for the work relationships (which were usually gossip driven) and that there were better things to do with my time and my mind.
    I enjoy the diversity, the honesty and the openness of this forum. With all the winnowing of the sites, this is the one that remains, the real thing without the chaff….
    so to all of you, thanks….

  • mia79gbr February 18, 2016, 6:01 am

    I adore Twitter and it has been incerdibly helpful in helping me to connect to likeminded people. I’m a runner and triathlete and balance this with a family and work life so often end up training on my own so as not to impact on the other (more important) parts of my life. it does make for lonely training though when 12 hours or more are spent on my own due to unsociable hours, pounding the pavements, swimming reps or cycling around lakes.

    However my twitter buddies have been nothing but supportive and there’s always someone awake to cheer me on or give me a “well done” when I bemoan having to get up at a ridiculous hour to train – and I like to think I give the same back. Although I understand that – as on all social media – we only see the side that people choose to show, it has overwhelmingly been the supportive, positive side of the running and triathlon community that I’ve seen. I can’t recommend it enough if you have a sport or hobby and want to discuss it with or meet likeminded people.

  • DaDancingPsych February 18, 2016, 8:49 am

    I, too, am not a Twitter user. It is something that I have not had the time to explore. But I do think it is unfair to claim the whole format a waste of time when a handful of people are using it for negative reasons. Is Twitter designed to allow someone to fully state a side to an argument? No. It is meant for shorter sentiments. Maybe these little snips are not making leaps and bounds within the philosophical community, but I like to think that there are small things that can be said that do make a difference.

    “Happy Birthday”

    “Insert uplifting quote.”

    “This funny thing that will make you laugh.”

    Mr. Fry should do what is best for him, but I think that he should place blame where it belongs… with the mis-users and not the entire system.

  • Wild Irish Rose February 18, 2016, 10:21 am

    Now if Kanye West would just go away too.

  • Lisa H. February 18, 2016, 2:01 pm

    Is it just me or does anyone else think that you must be a “TWIT” to be on TWITTER?

    • admin February 18, 2016, 5:25 pm

      I’ll use “twit” as the verb describing what people do on Twitter,i.e. “Why would someone twit that?” My husband routinely reminds me that it is “tweet”.

    • Kelly February 19, 2016, 11:16 am

      That’s pretty rude.

  • Willynilly February 18, 2016, 3:19 pm

    I started my Twitter account immediately after Hurricane Sandy. I was fortunate to not have any emergencies during the storm, but I saw on the news that many people, unable to get through on overwhelmed 911 lines, were able to summon help for people in need via Twitter.

    I primarily use it for entering contests so I don’t have to clutter my email inbox or my Facebook feed with spam, and for checking for transit issues.

  • Clove February 18, 2016, 7:24 pm

    I’m gonna speak to this as a teenager. Your experience with any social media platform, is first and foremost, defined by you. If you’ve personally had a terrible experience and encountered nothing but pointless garbled text talk and arguments? That’s because of who you followed, and shockingly, not much of an issue for many people I know. You follow who you know and like, and if it turns out their content isn’t your cup of tea, unfollow them. Twitter can essentially be viewed as mass group chat, where each individual gets to pick all the texts they receive, as well as who receives theirs. Some people have already mentioned the more practical uses as well, so I won’t touch on those, except for one point. Schools are using social media. Many, in my area at least, use twitter to keep students updates on events that might be happening and to send out reminders. Can’t remember if it’s a late start? Check the twitter? Are flowergrams being sold yet? Twitter. It’s a reliable source that’s easy to check.

    As for the text speak. No, it doesn’t determine someone’s intelligence. No, it does not show they are incompetent or don’t like reading. I spend a majority of my time on my phone reading, or being part of fandom (which is essentially a combo of art and english class, where everyone actually read the book and enjoyed it). I also text in a manner I’m sure half of you would find appalling, and the closer I am to the person I’m texting, the “worse” it gets. One of my friends will often just receive rows of exclamation and caps. It’s how we talk, as it closely mirrors how we speak face to face. Another gets emojis. Yet another will get five paragraphs in five minutes deconstructing a character’s personality, main flaws and strengths, and relationships. All are valid ways to text. And of course, the destruction of formality allows for multiple conversations to be held at once with a single person: one in all caps, one contained in brackets, the other in lowercase and a bonus text of emojis, just to clarify emotions.

    I guess what I’m trying to say here is, if you don’t get Twitter or like it, all the power to you. Just don’t let that colour your view of people who do like it or use it frequently. Maybe they’ve found something in it you just didn’t quite manage to.

    • NostalgicGal February 18, 2016, 9:44 pm

      Only thing I ask is on some technical forums where there is live chat and about a thousand character limit to post to others in the chat in realtime; are those that come in and expect everyone to be able to read the abbreviations and bad spelling (or seemingly so) of tweet style texting and try to ask questions to get help with something. And get asked to type stuff out so we know what they’re talking about. Then whine because nobody wants to decipher it and they want to be lazy and type as little as they can get by with (more than one has filed this complaint).

      If you are with your friends and buds, and understand each other, WONDERFUL! If that is how you connect and stay in touch, GREAT. Some very intelligent people can’t spell to save their life and never will. No, the way you text is not an indication of intelligence, just that outside your circle, if you want to be understood you may have to adapt the way you communicate. I’m afraid I’m one of those that DOES get emoji’s, the more common ones anyways, passing to bad on abbreviations, and bad spelling may be misinterpreted. I doubt we’ll ever text or tweet, but, if we do, hopefully we can sort it out.

      • Clove February 19, 2016, 6:20 pm

        Oh, in the case of a public forum I agree somewhat, if clarification of meaning is requested, it should be given without much grumbling or complaint, especially when considering others who may not speak english as a first language, who would undoubtedly have a harder time guessing at abbreviations or misspelled words. I do also think it’s fair to try and meet them halfway. I definitely don’t expect everyone to understand some of the more convoluted or inane abbreviations, but at the same time, if a phrase is particularly common it wouldn’t hurt to look it up, so in the future even if the exact words aren’t remembered, the gist of it is (there are a number of short forms I understand in terms of emotion portrayed rather than words abbreviated).

        And for sure, I don’t expect to be able to text like that to anyone and everyone. The way I text my parents for example, would be far more similar to the comments I’m making here. My point was more towards those in the previous comments who were judging intelligence by those characteristics, and demeaning Twitter as an entire social platform because they saw people communicating like that. Another person put it aptly, Twitter is similar to having a conversation with friends in public. Will the stranger sitting in front of you understand your inside joke? probably not. That doesn’t take away from the jokes quality at all. On that same front, if I tweeted something using plenty of emojis and text talk and someone who saw it didn’t get it, that’s also okay, but it still shouldn’t be much cause for criticism on my character.

        • NostalgicGal February 20, 2016, 1:01 am

          On some of those forums, we have a lot that English isn’t their first language, and we try to get past that, but, some have a rule that you must communicate in English because otherwise the moderators can’t police things so it stays civil. (trolling or profanity will get you kicked off, keep it up and you’re blocked) In that case we really try hard to get across the barrier and it usually works. I’m talking about those that come on, English is their first language, and they want to basically write stuff with a lot of abbreviations and bad spelling and whine because they’re asked to spell words out and write without the abbreviations. Some actually admit they are or want to be too lazy to try to communicate the way the forum asks everyone to, and wants say (help with homework or a project) and nobody wants to try to understand.

          I totally understand, you and your friends communicate the way you do, you understand each other, and that’s great. And also, yes, you wouldn’t text me the way you do your best friend.

          As I said, I also know a lot of intelligent people that can’t spell to save their life, so you can’t judge in a limited format of communication (140 characters isn’t much). As long as you and who you are trying to communicate can understand each other, then all is good. If you are broadcasting to hundreds of others… it’s hoped they all are on the same wavelength with you.

  • Amy February 18, 2016, 8:47 pm

    I like Twitter and I like Facebook. I follow friends and celebrities I enjoy and appreciate. To periodic purges and get rid of people I follow on whims or people I had a passing relationship with. I don’t get offended too easily, so opposing opinions don’t get to me. I have friends of every political stripe, and we get along fine. Twitter and Facebook are fine if you have a proper perspective about it. It’s not the real world, it’s a small microcosm that exists online that you create. Truthfully, I kind of get tired of the perpetually offended threatening to quit social media because people are mean. Especially celebrities. You put yourself out there, you are going to attract all kinds of responses. Even non-celebs are going to run across unpleasantness sometimes. Get over it and move on.

  • Library Diva February 19, 2016, 11:49 am

    Rudeness on the internet? I’m shocked!!!!!

    I don’t think it’s the fault of Twitter, though. I use it for work and have posted over 4000 tweets. I didn’t like the platform at first, but once I got more comfortable with it, I’ve been able to have great fun with it within the confines of my job. I can see a lot of value to it:

    – real-time sharing of information: great during serious news events, great fun when someone like a musician, actor, or artist chooses to take their following inside their world.
    – any Twitter user can get at any other Twitter user. Did you just finish reading an amazing biography and want to ask the biographer about her research process? Tweet her a question! A lot of times, even A-listers will respond and interact.
    – virtual chats. Sometimes it will be well-known people who will come on for an hour. Some communities have organized Twitter chats for their business leaders. Some fields do professional development that way.
    – games. It’s fun to play word games like #AddawordruinaTVshow (The Middle Seat! Hard Rock Ball with Chris Matthews! Game of Porcelain Thrones!)
    – you can find out what the world’s thinking about events as they unfold. I love musical theater. I don’t really know anyone else who does. But when I watch “Hamilton” take home ALL THE TONYS this spring, I can get on Twitter and share my jubilation with its fans around the world.

    I’d disagree that it’s impossible to communicate depth in 140 characters. Try these out:

    “All men are created equal&are endowed by their Creator w/certain unalienable Rights. Among these are Life,Liberty&the pursuit of Happiness.” (140 char, Declaration of Independence paraphrase)
    “The funeral baked meats did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.” (69 char, from Hamlet.)
    “I look for my sister, but it’s hopeless. I can’t tell the living from the dead. It’s all just blurry light. Olivia could be everywhere.” (135 characters, from “Haunting Olivia,” by Karen Russell)

    Trying to say something meaningful in a confined space is part of the fun and challenge of Twitter, and it’s why writers are so attracted to the platform.

    I read the article about Steven Fry. As an American, both of the people involved are just names to me, but I have to say that his complaint about Twitter is awfully reminiscent of what comedians always say when they’re annoyed at getting pushback after crossing a line. There’s an irony in saying “Everyone’s too easily offended. I’ll show them. I’m deleting my Twitter account.” Comedians, in particular, seem awfully willing to dish it out, but don’t like it when it’s heaped back on them.

    All this to say that I agree with the people who feel Twitter (and Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Yik Yak, YouTube, Soundcloud, etc) are what you make of it. You don’t have to like it, but all of these platforms have millions of avid users who do see value in it. Admin, you admit that you haven’t used Twitter much. Are you really giving it a fair shot? After all, if we condemned any platform because of the rudeness of the user, that would leave us with nowhere to stand, virtually or in the physical world.

    • Psychopoesie February 24, 2016, 4:29 am

      I enjoy Twitter. I’ve made some lovely friends, fallen in love once, had great conversations, laughed at heaps of silly wonderful things, written poetry and short stories, played word games, cried when life has gone badly (for others as well as myself), comforted and been comforted in turn. I treasure the photos people share from their everyday lives – sandwiches, pet dramas, or whatever. So many writers and artists out there to discover. Twitter also links me up to interesting articles and discussions.

      I’ve also encountered some shallowness, rudeness and even abuse. That’s not Twitter – that’s just life.

      Most people I’ve encountered on Twitter have been smart, funny and kind.

      It’s possible to be all that in 140 characters.

  • MrsL February 29, 2016, 10:24 am

    Stephen Fry faced an onslaught of criticism via Twitter after having made a very rude remark about a woman’s attire at the BAFAs. While on stage, he singled this woman out and said that the looked like a bag lady. That’s pretty rude. He closed his Twitter account because too many people chastised his poor behaviour and he got tired of it.