There’s a lot of ambivalence about social media these days, and not just because of Russian bots. Every year makes it a little clearer that Twitter and Facebook are probably a little more interested in advertising revenue than they are in shutting down--heck, even mildly alleviating--abuse.
Even within the higher ed Twitter bubble, there have recently been plenty of recent high-profile examples, mostly of members of marginalized communities being attacked online in tones ranging from frenzied to pure mob. (I’m not linking here in part because higher ed media coverage has played a role in exacerbating such crises, especially for grad students or untenured folks, so instead will just recommend Tressie McMillan Cottom’s excellent post, “Academic Outrage: When the Culture Wars Go Digital.”)
We’ve covered Twitter a lot here at ProfHacker, maybe even too much, but the moment seems right for a “how to survive as an academic on Twitter” post.
Mercifully, Heather Froehlich has written a very good list of steps for using Twitter, so I can simply recommend everyone read hers!
She is highly knowledgeable:
I’ve been on Twitter since 2010, and I have seen this play out more than a few times, including as a graduate student myself. In these seven years I have maintained what I hope is a very professional profile and I have accidentally amassed a rather large following (in the 1000s). I would not go so far as to say that I am Internet Famous but certainly it is rare I walk into a room now and I don’t know someone there. I try to be very modest about my internet life but I also recognize that is quite difficult when I occupy this space.
(She’s modest here, too! She’s in the 4000s.)
There’s probably a case to be made that some of her advice might play differently if you’re not white, or if you are on a less elite career track, but it’s still sound starting-out advice for anyone thinking about social media:
- Everything you say on Twitter is public and reaches lots of people you don’t know.
- 140 characters (or 280, depending on who you are now) is very, very flattening. Assume the recipient will have the worst interpretation.
- Twitter is a space for networking and making friends, but also your seniors are watching you. They will write your letters of rec one day. (If you are up for tenure, whatever, they are writing those letters too.)
Despite her curious lack of advice for tweeting about Liverpool, or the general state of Premier League officiating, the rest of her 10 points are well worth a look! She’s not really saying that this is how everyone should do it; it’s more that these points offer a good starting-off point until you find your own way.
Do you have a favorite “getting started with academic Twitter” advice post? Let us know in comments!