Sunday, June 18, 2017

Futility of Tweeting on Politics

People who know me or follow me on twitter know that I am unhappy with Trump's performance as president, and reluctantly voted for Hillary Clinton in the fall though I viewed her as too conservative herself. I've tweeted often on this.

Recently I've decided that retweeting NY Times and Washington Post articles and editorials and the like does little good: it's mostly a contest to see who can shout the loudest, though I found some interesting reading based on other peoples' tweets and can hope others read some of the articles I tweeted about and found them interesting or useful.

But, if my political tweeting has done no good, then maybe actually attempting constructive engagement with pro-Trump folks might be more constructive. In one of those threads, I asked for the source of an implausible quote attributed to George Soros. I got a series of increasingly more disappointing responses:

  • It doesn't matter if Soros really said that; he's a bad person, so it's okay to attribute things like that to him.
  • So, I asked if it's okay to make stuff up (I may have used the word lie) about a person just because you don't like his politics. Then the person said that Soros really did say these things, just Google it. I did Google it, and Google led to pages attributing the quote to Soros, but none of the websites were an established (read: credible) news source.
  • I decided not to continue in the thread, though others persisted, and in a non-sequitor the discussion turned to President Obama, but by the name Negrobama. I blocked a few people in the thread so I wouldn't have to read this ignorant and racist tripe in my notifications. In the past I've rarely blocked accounts.
  • So I wanted constructive dialog, and just now ended up (above, not in the Twitter thread) describing people on the other side as ignorant and racist. This is not a productive way to build dialog.
I have not found politics on Twitter to be a constructive use of my time, though  often entertaining. For functional programming, mathematics, networking, teaching CS, and the like, twitter still seems fine, though many people, like me, tweet on one or more of those topics and on Trump's kleptocracy. To help me reduce the temptation to tweet on politics, I guess I will unfollow people who tweet largely about politics. It's not that I disagree with them, but that I don't think it's useful on the whole.