Monday, May 07, 2012

Where is Black Twitter? In the back of Twitter like the back of the bus

I first signed up for Twitter in 2006. I used it rarely as a means of contacting other bloggers. I left it alone for a while because all I shared was what I read in newspapers and my blog post. I didn’t like it at the time because in order to do such, I had to copy and paste, and that was time consuming. At first I followed other bloggers, but as the social outlet evolved, I began to follow less people and more news sources, publications and outlets. I really got involved when the tweet meme became prevalent and more common, allowing me to share what I read, as I did initially without actually going on twitter just by clicking on a little green button.

Twitter is a valuable tool and fits into the premonitions proffered by Gil Scott Heron when he orated that “You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip, /Skip out for beer during commercials, /because the revolution will not be televised.” For if there is to be another revolution, we have already seen the impact social media like twitter can play. In Egypt for example findings from the newly released second edition of the Arab Social Media Report by the Dubai School of Government provided empirical data that Twitter as well as facebook “abetted if not enabled the historic region-wide uprisings of early 2011.” Not to forget that use of social networking sites assisted in helping activist organize and bring attention to efforts that eventually led to the destruction of decades of autocratic rule in Egypt and Tunisia and publicity to public malcontent pertaining to the regimes in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain.

However, in other places, especially in my own back yard, twitter and social media is more of a toy that for a large corpus of users, especially my folk (African Americans) tend to misuse and/or ignore the maximum utility of Twitter; instead settling for mundane and vile uses that in most respects promulgate traditional stereotypical images of African Americans.

A study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University surveyed 505 college freshman in 2009 and 2010 revealed that 37.2 percent of black students used Twitter compared to 20.1 percent of their white counterparts did. Other research suggests that African Americans reportedly make up 25 percent of Twitter users and are responsible for a sizable proportion of its trending topics. By definition, trending topics are defined by Twitter as “new or newsworthy topics that are occupying the most people's attention on Twitter at any one time." This is accomplished by adding a hashtag (#) to a tweet to create the general them. Unfortunately, most of the trends one sees on Twitter are not news worthy at all. Some that I have seen include #itaintrape, #inaghettohouse , #HowYouAThug , #fatpeoplepasswords,#UNotFromTheHoodIf and as we speak, #What2ChainzWouldSay. If you cannot find these, you are probably in the wrong part of twitter, you have to go to a place that many refer to as “black twitter.”

I have wondered about this place. I could not find it anywhere in cyber space as if it had been sucked up by a black hole and turned into a white dwarf. But then I realized if it was anywhere, it would be in the back of twitter like the back of the bus, since most of the behavior is reminiscent of how Negroes behaved prior to the civil rights movement. One common proponent of the world of #blacktwitter is a visible preference for hogwash and prattle mainly manifested in the tendency to evince higher rates of interest in celebrity and entertainment news or overt violence directed toward others as a result of overzealous or sudorific twitter post and interaction.

For example, in black twitter (and this is a true story), it is not uncommon for people to have what they call #twitterbeefs. For lack of a better way to say it, a twitter beef is really mad cow disease in the form of 140 characters or less. Although I have names, I will not provide them but I can say it involved one woman placing a picture of another woman on twitter of her attempting to perform Fellatio on some nameless male. After words were exchanged across the distal temporality of cyberspace, this past week the other woman saw the young girl. She left the pickup game of basketball and beat the other child helpless – all while her associates watched and videoed the encounter and you guessed it – posted it on twitter. According to #blacktwitter the young woman is with child.

Now I did not ask to be in black twitter, but with the incessant retweets ( RT) that cloud the field, when one checks you are bound to see something that you did not sign up for. Most of what I follow now is news papers still, from central Asia, Central Europe, and African mostly, in concert with almost every political think tank around the globe. You may think I am over reacting and I know that many will have a problem with what I write because some folks do not want to hear the truth because it makes them examine their own delusions. Even if it involves #blacktwitter, a place where beef is as deadly as eating contaminated cow meat. A place similar to the twilight zone where folks will seemingly sale their souls for 140 characters post just to get a retweet and followers. Never is there any interest in community and collective empowerment or sharing information and/or knowledge for the betterment of all. No this is not what happens in #blacktwitter, just the opposite, what Dr. Martian Luther King, Jr. would describe as “a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

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