You’re not the a**hole Twitter makes you out to be

So consider your day to day life on Twitter.  You’re probably anonymous. The person you’re interacting with is probably anonymous, too. You have only a few words to express yourself . You’re in a constant state of high-alert, knowing that bad actors are everywhere. Put it all together and what you have is effectively a platform for serialized civilizational road-rage.

But it’s even worse than road rage! Because when someone cuts you off in traffic and you give them the finger, at least you still have a moment of face-to-face contact. You see that the other person is a real human being. Maybe you see that they have a kid in the back of the car. Maybe you see a bumper sticker from the same college you went to. Maybe you can tell from their expression how harried they are. Maybe they give you a look that says, Jeez I totally didn’t see you. Sorry. And maybe you’re able to intake all of this information fast enough to keep your finger from popping up and instead you wave and everyone goes on with their day, happy that they didn’t get into an accident.

Twitter makes even this tiny bit of humanity harder to achieve. Human communication is critically dependent on facial expressions. But Twitter robs us of this vital aspect of our interactions. We can’t get any contextual information about the person we’re communicating with. (Also: we know that there’s a better-than-average chance that the “person” on the other side of the conversation is actually just be a bot.)