“Life is very short, and there’s no time for fussing or fighting, my friend.” – from “We Can Work It Out” – Lennon/McCartney (used slightly out of context)
I typically go on a rant once a year (give or take a few months), so I figured I was overdue for another one. If you’re expecting another review, fear not. Another should be along shortly, so I hope you’ll bear with me.
I’m still hazy on the whole “Film Twitter” thing. I’ve always felt a bit like Schrödinger's cat, not sure if I’m in or out. Is there a formal application process with review by a panel of film school graduates? Do I need to own a minimum number of Criterion titles or possess the ability to recall the exact number of titles I’ve watched in a lifetime? Since I’m unsure where I sit on the fencepost, maybe I’m not the right person to comment about what’s right or wrong about Film Twitter.
Although I’ve often heard it referred to as a dumpster fire or cesspool (take your pick), my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. This post isn’t meant to be the last word on Film Twitter. It’s only a beginning. It’s part of a learning curve that never ends, and I’m sure I’ve made more than a few faux pas during my stint (cue the Spider-Man finger-pointing meme). This should be an open, ongoing dialogue, so if you think something should be added, please comment.
Here are some observations I’ve distilled:
1. Always be kind. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone all the time, but take a moment or two to consider your response before you comment on a tweet. It doesn’t cost anything to be a decent person. Don’t rain on other people’s parades. Do your part to make Twitter a more positive place to be. Sure, it’s not all puppies, daffodils and rainbows, but shaming people about their movie picks doesn’t add anything to the dialogue.
2. Don’t follow people, only to unfollow. Some accounts that will remain nameless play this little game to inflate their follower-to-followed ratio. It’s not cool, so don’t do it.
3. Follow wisely. Make your timeline something you want to visit, so follow accounts that will make you happy. If their tweets make you feel miserable, they’re probably not worth your time and energy.
4. Twitter is a fickle beast. If there’s a magic formula to getting likes and retweets, I don’t know what it is. Why one tweet gets a bunch of attention while other tweets flounder remains a mystery. Maybe it’s the timing, or the general atmosphere when you tweeted, but don’t despair. Keep moving forward, and don’t look back.
5. We don’t all like the same things, and that’s okay. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s all right to hold an unpopular opinion about a movie, without denigrating other people’s love for said film. Does that make me right and them wrong? No, it’s a matter of personal taste. When I see a tweet I don’t agree with, I can always ignore it and move on. The great thing about Film Twitter, is there’s always someone who matches your particular taste.
6. DM responsibly. I use this feature occasionally, with people I know fairly well. Some folks, however, (probably for very good reason) don’t like to receive DMs. Be sure to respect their wishes. If you’ve just followed me and our first interaction is hawking your product or asking me to visit your GoFundMe (or similar) account, it’s not going to end well.
7. Our unique Twitter identities. I’m tickled that so many people associate me with Peter Lorre, despite the fact that in real life, I don’t remotely resemble him in appearance or stature. There are many others who are associated with one movie, a filmmaker or actor, and that’s what makes this such a cool place to inhabit.
8. It’s our home away from home. For many of us, this might be one of the few forums where we can openly express ourselves and our love of movies. It’s all well and good if people in our personal lives or work enjoy and appreciate our love of movies, but for many of us, especially those that contend with social anxiety (as I do) or lack adequate support networks in real life, this is the only way we’re likely to interact with our fellow film lovers.
9. It’s not always about you. Yes, I understand that Twitter has been designed for narcissists. It’s an ideal forum for selfies, grandstanding, political diatribes and general appeals for attention, but consider for a moment that it can be used to help promote someone else. When I start feeling sorry for myself because I perceive no one’s paying attention, it’s the perfect time to look outward and retweet or give thanks to my supporters.
10. Tag responsibly. Tagged conversations can be fun, but sometimes the discussion goes into overdrive, going on strange tangents or outstaying its welcome. That’s when it might be handy to mute the conversation. Also, I’m not naming any names, but some bloggers persist in tagging a bunch of people with their reviews on a daily (or twice daily) basis. If you’re going to frequently tag someone with your reviews/promotions, make sure they don’t mind it. It should be a reciprocal relationship, so be prepared to promote them as well.
11. A word on polls: There’s something about Twitter polls that eggs on the contrarians. Every time I start a poll and hear someone comment, “you left out…” or “None of them” I want to get out my imaginary spray bottle and give them a spritz or two. Twitter polls only have a maximum of four choices. If you don’t like the choices that are offered, there’s nothing stopping you from running your own poll.
12. Shout outs: Anyone’s who’s followed me for a while knows I’m a big fan of tagging folks on Follow Friday (#FF). I know that not everyone is a fan of these types of shout outs, but it’s a way of giving thanks to those I interact with the most, and a token of mutual support. I think the “follow” aspect of Follow Friday is secondary to the display of appreciation. Although many of the same names surface from week to week, I don’t have a set distribution list. If I miss anyone, it’s unintentional, but feel free to give me a holler. On the flipside, if you don’t want to be a part of these, let me know as well.
13. Gatekeeping: Nothing seems to create a toxic atmosphere more than those who take it upon themselves to decide who is or isn’t a “real” fan. It shouldn’t be a pissing contest to see who’s the biggest fan, who knows the most trivia, or who does or doesn’t like a sequel.
14. We’re all learning here. We can all learn much more from others than we could possibly impart as an individual. The sharing of passions is what keeps Film Twitter alive. We can benefit from one another, but there’s a right way to go about discussing the things we feel strongly about. Turning your views into a pedantic lecture probably won’t win a lot of admiration or followers.
15. Blocking: I don’t like to mention the “B” word, because I view it as a last resort. It goes without saying that racist, misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ+, or otherwise verbally abusive rhetoric has no place in my timeline. But there’s another category: a vocal minority that thrives on being verbally abusive, overly argumentative, or condescending, feeling it’s their duty to “educate” you. Are they worth the trouble? Only you can decide, but do you really want to have that negativity in your life?
16. Have fun. Whether it’s the latest Halloween movie, a silent classic, or something shot on VHS for $150, Film Twitter remains a wonderful forum to discuss your passion. If something isn’t your cup of tea, move on. There’s enough room for everyone. Now go forth and create some quality content!