Wednesday, January 30, 2013

actually, Matt Lewis is full of poop

A few people have sent me this Matt Lewis piece about hating Twitter, expecting me to like it, as I have complained about Twitter myself. Kind of strange that they would think so; the piece is one of those calls for civility and decorum that get published every six months. Well, civility is bullshit and decorum is bullshit and comity is bullshit and going along to get along is bullshit and let's all be friends is bullshit. That's democracy, that's adulthood.

Actually, my problem has never been with Twitter itself, it's been with a particular attitude about its use-- which Lewis's piece exemplifies. Lewis talks about the ways in which Twitter has raised his profile and publicized his work. That's the good thing about a public medium! But when you say things in public, some times mean people say mean things about what you've said in public. That's the bad thing about a public medium! There are options you have to get the publicity; there are options you have to avoid the meanies. There are no options that give you both. Lewis completely undoes his own point when he mentions having a private, invite-only Twitter feed. Don't like mean people? There you go, Matt: make your tweets private. But he wants both, the publicity and the protection, and you can't have that. Lewis's problem is not with Twitter. It's with that basic contradiction.

If you don't like what Lewis said about Twitter, your best path forward is to do what he refuses to do: choose to have a public Twitter, or choose to have a private Twitter, and act accordingly. The funny thing is that I think Lewis's biggest critics here are often guilty of the same thing, which is acting like a public Twitter is a private conversation between friends. It isn't. When you have a public Twitter feed, your tweets show up on a freely-accessible website. (I believe it's called "") I can see how you might lose track of the fact that your Twitter conversations are public, but sorry, that's the nature of the beast. Ask Nir Rosen about it sometime. Sometimes people get on me when I hit back at people who have talked shit about me on Twitter. (In fact, I had a certain blogger darling send me a very unhappy email about it.) Sorry, you guys: you put something out there in public, it's public. If you come at me, I'll come right back. Don't want that? Save it for your fucking diary.

Public or private-- it's up to you. But you have to choose.

Update: Regular emailer Zed: "Blogger darling who complained has to be Sunkara, right?"

No way. Bhaskar is in my bloc.


ryan said...

Of course, there is a third option:

Have a private Twitter feed for private conversations, and a public Twitter feed for public conversations. Accounts are free. Nothing stopping anyone from following both. You can ever retweet your public tweets in your private feed.

So I'd say his problem is beyond just failing to comprehend the contradiction between publicity and privacy. It's failing to make use of existing solutions offered by the site to manage that dichotomy.

Freddie said...


Anonymous said...

Matt Lewis wants the pat on the head - and the deposit offshore.

He has no interest in the kick in the backside - or the IRS audit.

Anonymous said...

Along the same lines, did you see this story about Teri Buhl? She's a journalist who claims none of her tweets can be published, and threatened to sue someone who did.