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  • Alexandra Sills

What I Learned This Week on Twitter Dot Com

Updated: Aug 19


1. You won’t like everything you read.


2. If you know why, you can counter it. This is a sign that your research is solid and that you’re using your academic training.


3. The work of junior scholars is valid and of value. That includes yours.


4. If you are nervous to publish a rebuttal, it is likely more indicative of the well-documented phenomenon of "Very Online Senior Scholars being volatile," not of your research being sub-par.


5. Locked alt-accounts and DMs are a wonderful place to voice your anxieties, receive advice, and enjoy a supportive network of friends. When these trusted colleagues tell you to strap in, you should strap in.


6. These are the same private accounts and DMs where junior scholars warn each other about seniors who are hostile, misogynistic, TERFy, homophobic, racist, classist and/or groomers. We see everything, and we keep a running tally. Forewarned is forearmed. Your job is to never land yourself on these lists.


7. You will consider not posting your research. You will consider deleting it, or locking your account, because you have seen what can happen (e.g. being quote-tweeted to an enormous amount of people for the purposes of starting a dogpile, or having someone complain about you to your supervisor.) This is a sad indictment of the darker aspects of Classics Twitter, because there are many examples to choose from.


8. Posting research is neither disrespectful nor impertinent. Sometimes your research will contradict existing work. That’s just how scholarship works. You should expect to contradict and to be contradicted.


9. For every like, retweet and positive reply, you will focus on the negative ones. This is natural but ultimately futile.


10. You cannot control anyone’s reactions to your words. You can control your subsequent response. If you suspect that whatever you say will merely fan flames, the best tactic is to maintain silence. Your research, and the various responses to it both positive and negative, will speak volumes. Fury tweeting is not often a good look, and should be reserved for far more important issues than this. We are each born with a finite amount of fucks to give, spend them wisely.


11. Don’t forget your alt account and DMs safe spaces. In any online kerfuffle, that’s where the real discussions with friends happen and they will be your greatest comfort. That's where you blow off steam, not in public. Rage or sob there, in blessed privacy.


12. Tweets fired off in anger may get quietly deleted as a form of damage control, and you’d be a fool to take such deleting-sprees as a tacit apology for bad behaviour. It is gaslighting. Screenshot everything.


13. Senior scholars who should be encouraging students and junior scholars to read critically don’t want students and junior scholars to read their own work critically. Don’t let bruised egos affect your academic integrity. No-one is infallible. That also includes you.


14. Sometimes, becoming a victim is a conscious decision. You have no need to. Learning to differentiate criticism of work from personal vendettas is a skill like any other. Get good at it.


15. Every writer/tweeter has supporters in their corner. That goes for you as well as whoever you annoy, regardless of respective platforms. As long as the people you like and admire are in yours, you’re golden. They will notice getting (soft) blocked for voicing support for you and/or your work, but they won’t mind it in the slightest.


16. Reply Guys are irrelevant. Once they’ve replied more than three times despite lack of engagement and/or turned on their capslock, they’ve lost their cool and therefore credibility. Resist the urge to send them a gif of someone touching grass, however tempting.


17. The idea one should be grateful for merely being scolded like a recalcitrant child for ‘having an axe to grind,’ rather than being negatively quote-tweeted to tens of thousands of people ready to insult every aspect of your existence, is rather like being expected to feel grateful that the person slapping your face doesn’t own knuckledusters.


18. Just as you won’t like everything you read, not everyone will like what you write. You can control your response to that too. Thicken your skin and learn not to sweat the small stuff. Not everyone masters this, but they’d be happier if they did. Be happy.


19. Sometimes you are the small stuff. That some may choose to sweat you is not a You Problem.


20. Keep going. A lot of people who know what they’re talking about engaged positively with your research, and you’ve got a lot more writing to do. Nil desperandum.


21. Twitter can scare the shit out of you. This feeling dissipates quickly, and there will be a queue of people ready to remind you why it’s so great.


22. Be grateful that this time, you incurred some wrath because of your research. Your friends have and will inevitably again face worse because of their identity, regardless of what they write. Be the kind of supporter you are grateful to have yourself. We each have a choice to make twitter and our community therein better or worse. Be better.


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