When I joined Twitter, two months ago, I did so somewhat reluctantly. Although it seemed necessary to have a presence there if trying to communicate in the modern age, my impression of it was almost entirely negative. I thought that 280 characters was far too short a limit to say anything meaningful, that communication would be nothing but catchy sound-bites from people trying to look good and to shame others, and that the setting primarily functioned as a way of enabling misogynistic trolls, racists and social justice warriors to bully people, hurl abuse and either make death threats or try to get people fired.
Of course, some of those things do actually go on – and is probably more visible if you’re a more prominent figure than I am. But in the time I’ve been on, I’ve also seen a lot of more positive activity. The short character limit still enables people to link to long-form pieces – a lot of what I see consists of that, and I’ve read plenty of things I wouldn’t have come across otherwise. Some people do manage to have meaningful conversations or to exchange ideas, albeit limited ones. And it’s also very pleasant to see people using it to share positive opinions or support, such as congratulating others on a professional achievement or life event.
While it’s still not my favourite medium, I’ve had to reevaluate my initial opinion. I’ll move to neutral on whether or not the platform’s existence makes a positive difference to the world and will happily say that there are both positive, as well as negative, aspects to the communication it facilitates.