Every morning I boot up my Twitter stream because, like this guy I know named Ed, I trust human editors who happen to be people I've deliberately chosen to follow, to let me know what I need to know.
In fact, I usually hear on Twitter today the news major media brings me tomorrow. I'm pretty sure journalists are trolling Twitter for inspiration, too. Or trawling. Depending upon the motives.
My motive is definitely to be inspired and informed. I love knowing what has caught people's attention and what has held it. The cultural geographer in me finds Twitter an awesome insight into our culture, mindset, interests, motives, and more.
I have a lot of different intentions behind using Twitter and the Tweets I send out. Mostly I send out links to interesting things I've read or stuff I think you should know, RTs from people I esteem and who said something I found worthwhile, or germane thoughts about twitversations or current events. I've used it for customer service. Chatting. Research. And the occasional outburst about lizards that resemble small alligators in my house. (True story. Yesterday.)
I use it to try to add value to the people in my stream. I use it to find value from the people in my stream. It's an amazing give and take, that Twitter.
What I don't use it for is to diss people.
Quick qualifier: I have dissed specific events -- such as the time Bank of America lost my money and would not give it back, or when FEMA did not respond to my hurricane claim in a timely way. However, I did so purposefully and as it happens, to reach their customer service since I had no luck any other way. These conversations on Twitter ended up bringing a resolution, actually. They also served a secondary purpose: alerted other consumers to my story with this company.
However, a large contingent of Tweeps do use it to diss people and I shudder every time I open Twitter to see "I hate people who..." tweets.
You know what? I hate it when people hate people.
Okay, really. I want a point of clarity here. Language and word choice does matter, and words can hurt.
In point of fact, and clarity, most of the things you hate about someone are really more to do with you. Seriously. Studies say. Studies do not say that you are always right and when you feel annoyed someone else is always wrong.
I'm sort of amazed, actually, by the amount of hubris I see these days. We've got this entitlement issue that "if it bugs me it's horrid and must be stopped."
In point of fact, most of this is more of a personal preference (about you) versus a societal more (about the other person).
Let's take the most frequent call to hate: people who talk on cell phones.
I don't prefer when people talk on their cell phones at the store. I really don't prefer it when they do so loudly.
But I don't hate those people and I acknowledge their right to use the phone as they need, including voice level, just as I hope they extend the same courtesy and understanding to me when I shop oh say with my kids and my Loud Admonishing Mom voice.
I wish folks would say prefer to hate. I wish there was more "I don't prefer it when..." and less "I hate people who..." I'd even be more comfortable with, "I hate it when..." although I really prefer less hate.
It's a real 'love the sinner even if you don't prefer the sin' deal. Dig?
The idea is to discuss the action, not the person. Because truthfully, you don't know the person, or even what's behind the action.
For in-store calls -- I try to imagine this person is shopping for a homebound neighbor and needs to make sure she gets the exact right thing.
For coffeehouse cell chatterers -- I try to imagine this person is having work done on his home and as a work-from-home person, needs space to keep earning a living.
I try to imagine that possibly this is out of character for this person. I try to imagine that although this is a regular behavior, the person doesn't mean harm, and anyway, gave $200 to Walk for the Cure.
I try to imagine something that humanizes the person and so, even while the behavior might annoy me, I can exhale and let it go. More importantly, I can see the other person as a human being with a complicated life that I don't know or understand and I can extend understanding that benefits that person and me. Because now I am over it and not hating anyone, or any group of people.
Also, I just exercised my imagination and who doesn't need to do that more often.