Flag or Brag? Twitter as Conversation @batty_towers #Digidisciple

Twitter is a conversation, as has been said many times. The best conversations – the best ways of being with people – are where we listen, where we are willing to wait to share our opinion, our solution, our experience. If we were in the pub and you had good news to share – promotion, baby, book deal – you’d want to tell me, and I’d want to hear. And we’d talk about it… and then move on. You wouldn’t keep telling me. Or tell everyone individually around the table, one after the other. And then, tell me again when someone else congratulates you…

Sometimes, that’s what it feels like on social media. On Twitter, where anyone can follow, and we have no control over the network we find ourselves in, it can be hard to spot the difference between flagging something up, and bragging about it. Hearing your news is great. Understanding that different people read Twitter at different times of day – that’s fine, too. But I wonder how other people feel about retweeting all your compliments and congratulations? Or sending out ten, or twenty tweets to different people with the same message? That’s starting to feel like spam, and if it happens across several sites, becomes seriously irritating.

There’s no space here to start discussing online humility, but this is related. If I follow you, I want to know what you’re up to. I want to celebrate when you do, and commiserate when you’re feeling down. You can’t tell me good or bad news without flagging it up. But where does the line lie between sharing information and bragging about our achievements?

If we look to Twitter to talk to our friends, then we want to share our news. Does your Twitter feed involve conversations, interactions with other people? Do you share other people’s news? Or is your timeline just one long list of self-publicising tweets, and retweets of what other people have said about you? How authentic does that make you as a person? 

About Sara Batts

Sara completed her PhD research in 2013 examining how English churches are embracing – or ignoring – the rise of social media. Based in Colchester, Sara has a day job in London as a legal information professional so she’s well placed to understand how best to find and provide information online. Blogs, twitter feeds and other social media are second nature and she’s been using the internet for longer than she cares to remember