Yesterday afternoon, during my lunch hour, I was cruising my Twitter stream when I came upon a tweet that stuck out like a sore thumb. It seemed mean. It seemed bigoted. It seemed rife with prejudice.
In light of everything going on in the world…in light of my recent work on Social Media Safety and working on decreasing cyber-bullying, I felt it was right to nip this in the bud. Even though the statement was not geared at anyone in particular, it was the kind of thing that just seemed like it could only feed hate.
I responded to the person. I told them I thought that their tweet was really inappropriate and that I was blocking them as a result.
When I got back from finishing lunch, I looked at the person’s profile (we all have our doubts). Turns out, they were of the group that I thought they were prejudiced against.
As it turns out, my behavior in this scenario was the result of my own perspective, and the result of my not knowing this person well enough to know the context. As it turns out, this person’s single tweet defined them for me, and it defined them incorrectly.
I do not feel good about the situation even though I know that I thought I was doing something good. Out of this experience, I hope I can remind everyone that you can’t bank on context when it comes to Twitter. An inside joke, an aside, a sarcastic comment – they are all read individually and at different times throughout the day.
Image by frédéric dupont. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/patator