Twitter causes thought conformity

8 Dec

When we get a tweet that says or links to something that we agree with, we re-tweet it. One button click to vouch for and spread an idea without any need to explain, defend, or even really understand it.

When we get a tweet that we don’t agree with, we don’t re-tweet it. Not spreading an idea is not the same thing as disagreeing with it. It is the equivalent to walking away from a discussion.

Thoughtful disagreement on Twitter is understandably difficult because of its 140 character limit. Blogs, along with social news sites like Digg and Reddit, however, are wonderful places for discussion and debate. Comment sections are my favourite to read and I’ve learned a lot from people with markedly different opinions than me and the author of the original post. True, Twitter drives traffic to blogs, but chances are we only tweet links to blog posts we agree with. Why would we want to increase the exposure or associate ourselves with an idea we disagree with?

If we agree with the content we tweet, likely our followers and the people we follow do too. Why? Because the people we follow on Twitter are public, we tend to follow people who are similar to us. Sure, I might read a conservative columnist I venomously disagree with in a newspaper, to reconsider or deepen my own arguments (or just rile myself up), but would I feel comfortable following him on Twitter, when his reputation becomes associated with mine in the eyes of my peers? Doubtful. So on Twitter, we are primarily exposing ourselves to ideas we agree with from groups of people who share similar views as us.

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3 Responses to “Twitter causes thought conformity”

  1. Jack Steinmann December 8, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

    I am so going to re-tweet this.

  2. margriet aasman December 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm #

    Got me thinking… but I was so sidetracked by these small white spots moving downwards on the page… what is going on… my eyes actually followed them all the way down the page… sorry what were you saying?

  3. dougbrowncreative December 9, 2010 at 10:09 am #

    Shane, Margriet’s distraction is understandable. They don’t get much snow up in Whitehorse.

    This is a smart post. I have never thought about it that way before. The only contribution I can make to the discussion is that there are increasingly Merchants of Chaos on twitter, the malcontents who use the space to rant and rage again life. They are very entertaining. Even though you might not share their opinion, it’s hard not to want to spread the joy.

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