Black Twitter: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly3/13/2013
If you are Black and an avid Twitter user, chances are you belong to the subgroup known as “Black Twitter.” Black Twitter has evolved into ...
If you are Black and an avid Twitter user, chances are you belong to the subgroup known as “Black Twitter.” Black Twitter has evolved into a virtual subculture, consisting of opinionated African-American tweeters, discussing a plethora of subjects amongst one another. Some have thousands of followers and fans while others have a more modest following. Whatever the case may be, these individuals come together, as a community, with one common objective: to unabashedly express thoughts and opinions on all things related to Black culture.
As a Black woman that uses social media daily, I find many uses for Black Twitter. Live tweeting shows, typically programs starring Black women and produced by Black women, are times when my timeline is insanely busy and entertaining. Like scheduling my television time, I tune into Twitter on Sunday evening for Real Housewives of Atlanta, Monday for Love and Hip Hop and Thursday for Scandal.
Yes, arguably all of the previously mentioned television series are high in drama and intensity, and low in substance and reality, but I find myself following the trending topics of #RHOA #LHHNY and #Scandal, to see if my fellow tweeters, mostly other Black women, are thinking what I’m thinking and feeling how I’m feeling. These exchanges make me feel as if I am watching my favorite shows in a room with my girlfriends.
It can be extremely therapeutic to tweet about surprising plot twists that arise before each commercial break (honestly, more happens in an episode of Scandal than I could ever think or tweet about). However, it is important to note that the specific space that Black Twitter holds that provides this sense of camaraderie Twitter can just as easily be used in divisive, overly-critical ways.
From attacking @ mentions to subtweeting shade everyone, including Internet personalities and internet trolls, has the power to pass severe judgment and harass other oline users without warning and without accountability. Offensive provocations have become a norm within the territory of virtual courage and intrusive celebrity gossip is our breaking news of the day. Black Twitter surely walks a fine line of being harmful in these ways, and I feel that there will eventually come a time to address these antics.
Then there are the nudes. Not a day goes by that I do not come across photo content flagged as inappropriate on my timeline. The nude photos that previously filled my Facebook timeline have seemingly migrated to my Twitter, and this time I have no way to block them. What is most disheartening about these Twitter models is that they are mostly Black women.
Now there is nothing wrong with being proud of your body, especially as a Black woman. It becomes problematic, however, when you are being reduced to your physical assets as a measure of your worth and womanhood. While some women possess and attain these “ideal” fit and voluptuous bodies, it is not every woman’s truth and can enforce stereotypical misconceptions about what a typical black woman's body should look like.
In addition to the above mentioned trends in Black Twitter, there are many more facets that comprise this virtual community, some I may not even realize. There are numerous question games and online forums, which allow for Black Twitter to see all the ways that we think alike and differently. But what I find to be most compelling about Black Twitter is that there is a space to talk about pressing Black social issues. I’ve tweeted about gun violence in urban communities, poverty, politics, education reform, health & fitness, the list goes on.
I was raised to know that there is a time and a place for everything. While this is true in my real life, I have found that on Black Twitter, there is always a time for us to speak our minds, positive or negative, on any and everything. It is truly remarkable, although not entirely surprising, that we have created this online community where more often than not, everyone is included. And while there are negative connotations associated with Black Twitter, mostly coming from Black tweeters themselves, who is to say that this virtual microcosm isn’t somewhat representative of the Black community at large? There is good, there is bad, and there is ugly.
What do you think? What has been your experience with Black Twitter?
Precious J. is a 20-something, aspiring culture writer and music enthusiast located in DC. For more on her contemplations about blackness, culture and music, email her at: Precious@ForHarriet.com