Remember the good ol’ days when people would just talk shit about you behind your back? Now, if you piss off a person with a significant social media following, your dirty laundry could become the next trending topic. I know there’s tons of Tumblr philosophers out there who warn us of wolves in sheep’s clothing. But if I had to choose between being skewered in a very public Twitter rant or simply suspecting that a frenemy is saying unsavory things about me when I’m not around, I’ll gladly take option number two.
"Remember the good ol’ days when people would just talk shit about you behind your back?"
In addition to embarrassing the offending party, Twitter rants can have very real consequences. Take Azealia Banks for example. After a homophobic and racist tirade against former One Direction singer ZAYN, the “212” rapper was banned from Twitter and dropped from her headlining gig at Rinse FM’s Born & Bred Festival. Social media strategist Scott Bartosiewicz lost his lucrative job at Chrysler after tweeting this: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to (expletive) drive.” Not so bad, right? Sure-if it was a tweet from his own account. But he’d accidentally fired off that insult missile from Chrysler’s official Twitter account. It was a costly mistake that not only got him canned but ruined his chances of a contract renewal with the automobile giant.
Despite public humiliation and countless examples of suckers who’ve lost their jobs due to restless Twitter fingers, people continue to fire off on the social media network with no regard for the future. Why don’t people realize that 140 characters could be the difference between a bright present or a dark future?
According to a March article in USA Today, we let our Twitter fingers run free when we get angry because it feels good. Instead of having to track down our best friend or a confidant, we’ve got a few hundred, thousand, or million people to listen right that second. We can get our thoughts off our chests immediately. And that’s great right? Because we don’t waste time harboring resentment, right? Wrong.
Once we feel the adrenaline rush of a Twitter rant, we feel satisfied. So the next time we feel that angry, we do the same thing. Twitter then becomes a default mechanism to process our emotions. The problem with this is you never know who’s watching. Twitter users are often looking for the next wild tweet that will go viral. You might think your lofty following will sympathize with you while you tweet about how terrible your boss is. But the truth is, they might turn it into a meme and retweet it so many times, your boss actually sees it. And I highly doubt you intended to submit your letter of resignation via Twitter.
"Instead of having to track down our best friend or a confidant, we’ve got a few hundred, thousand, or million people to listen right that second."
Furthermore, Twitter rants (inclusive of feuds) encourage childish behavior. When has it ever been acceptable to complain about everything so publicly? To squabble with other adults as though we’re all still in high school? Twitter rants have created a digital world in which we feel justified acting like teenagers. I’m never one to support all those studies that say social media is ruining the way we communicate. But in this case, Twitter rants are truly the kryptonite for emotional maturity and growth.
The next time you feel like whining about something or trash talking someone on Twitter, just don’t. Twitter is not your diary. Your tweets are not secrets that lie undiscovered in a notebook in your closet. These are very public little nuggets of ridiculousness that won’t wait years to embarrass you. They’ll ruin your life right away.