We love hopping on Twitter to see what the rest of our fellow fans have to say on our favorite franchises. However, sometimes it can feel a bit much. The arguments, the points of view vastly different from ours, and the overall magnitude of the conversations had can tire us out, and make us feel like we’ve not gotten anything out of our online venture.
Fandom is meant to ultimately be fun, and it is ultimately a personal experience with how we want to engage with our favorite franchises. We should always aim to be respectful when engaging with our fellow fans for their differing views (unless they’re sexist/racist/homophobic/bigoted or the like) to make a positive and constructive space for fun discourse. However, you shouldn’t always be required to engage with people you don’t like either. There are simple ways you can change your Twitter experience to be more constructive and less toxic. The list below may seem like I’m encouraging you to engage less, but I believe ultimately following these tips will make your fandom experience better:
Don’t get into public tweet arguments
We go to fandom online for in-depth discussion of our favorite characters, storylines, and themes, and often it’s a fantastic and enriching experience! However, with everyone having their own point of view, the discourse and fun debates can often devolve into arguments that no one wins.
Arguments on characters and story online, in my experience, almost never end well, and don’t tend to change people’s minds. More often, people feel hurt and frustrated at the end of the argument, and both (or many) sides leave feeling drained, attacked, and stressed out. Now, obviously this doesn’t apply to arguments that are clearly in a joking and jovial manner (do you like pineapple on pizza, should Kylo Ren go bald, etc.), but on serious issues that emotionally affect the people arguing, you should generally refrain from engaging in a debate. I know it may sound like giving up, but in my personal experience I have never found I’ve been able to convince someone to see my point of view through tweets in a debate/argument. I believe the nature of the platform makes it too ephemeral to leave a constructive impact.
Because we are talking through a text medium with no modulation of tone, facial expression, or any sort of body language that would connote respect, we are left with the words themselves that when left on their own, can make us feel stupid or foolish for not understanding the opposing point. That on its own generally does not breed understanding. Consider sharing an article/video/podcast that articulates your point instead of arguing with individual accounts, even if they’re your mutuals.
Now this isn’t to say you shouldn’t use your platform to advocate what you believe in! You absolutely should with tweet threads, posting essays and podcasts you’ve produced, and similar means of advocacy. If some random person “@s” you with dissenting or insulting views for something you’ve tweeted in earnest, sometimes the best tool against them is silence and ignoring them. You can also use the mute and block options if they’re particularly egregious.
Also, if the you and/or the person says or indicates they want to engage in good faith or you two are friends that trust each other, you might want to take the risk of getting into a constructive debate with them! Just don’t fall down the rabbit hole of feeling like you have to keep defending your point. The debate could be good to convey different points of view, but remember, you’re almost never going to change someone’s mind through a public Twitter argument.
Use your direct message (DM) function frequently
You are not required to make all of your conversations public. Twitter is a means of communication first and foremost, and you are not obligated to make all communication public. If you have something you’re not comfortable posting publicly, but still want to share, you can very easily use DMs with your followers/mutuals. Because your characters are unlimited, unlike public tweets, you have far more room to articulate your points. This can make for a much more detailed and nuanced discussion than you might get in a back-and-forth public tweet thread.
If you’re brave enough to state something someone might consider controversial, then go ahead and post publicly! Just remember that the DM function is always there if you need it for a private and more nuanced conversation where you can hash out your disagreements or talk more freely about personal issues or feelings on something in a franchise.
Mute and block
Sometimes, even if you try to respectfully engage with someone, they continue to act terribly or insufferably. If it gets to a point where seeing anything from this person aggravates you, consider muting them. You are not required to read and engage with everything you read on the internet, and muting and blocking are great ways for you to deliberately ignore people.
Simply mute them and let them shout into the void. If they continue to harass you, block them. They will just be ephemeral users in a vast ocean of others for you to engage with. Find your positive discourse elsewhere. Additionally, if there’s a specific word or phrase you don’t want to see or engage with, you can mute that word too in your advanced Twitter settings.
And finally, just be nice
Remember that every time you tweet at someone they are (unless they’re clearly a bot) a human being with real emotions and feelings. Do your best in your tweets to be respectful and considerate. If, for example, they like a film or tv show that you don’t, acknowledge that, don’t imply that they’re stupid for liking it (yes this happens), and type what you would say to them (respectfully) in real life. Of course, there’s no need to be nice to someone harassing you, but in general on this platform, do your best to be respectful, kind, and empathetic to strangers you engage with. You might not see their face, but that face exists at the other end of the screen. Think how that face might react before you send that tweet.