An Ode to the Non-Toxic Side of Twitter

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Twitter has got a bad reputation.

It is called toxic. It is called unfriendly. It is arguably one of the most-hated social networking sites that people surprisingly cannot get enough of.

I have a different take on Twitter though.

How Twitter acts actually depends on whom you follow.

If you follow toxic people, then yes, Twitter will be toxic for you. No question about that. If you follow the right people – people whom you can learn from, people who have the most thought-provoking things to say – then Twitter is the right place to be!

It is all about making the right choice. You cannot expect to follow a bunch of pessimists, hate mongers, crass talkers and expect any place (offline or online) to be a lively, positive place to be in.

If someone you follow is spewing hate, unfollow them. Or better still – block them.

If someone you follow is liking posts that are spewing hate, unfollow them.

Rinse and repeat till your social media feed is clean.

Twitter is more than its infamous toxicity. It is a great place to get tips and tricks with respect to work. I sometimes feel it is more helpful than LinkedIn. All you have to do is follow work-related or any interest-related topics (by that, I do not mean topics that can offend and trigger you) to gain access to a plethora of knowledge.

I got tips from Twitter, which I have implemented at my workplace. Hard to believe but true nonetheless.

Where else would you see people unabashedly voicing their opinions on books, life, philosophy, work, family, and more, without the need of any media distractions? The focus is purely on words. There is no need to accessorize those words with pictures, audio, or video. The central attraction is your mind. Everything else becomes secondary.

But we choose to focus on the negatives. Like how we do with every other thing in life.

Of course, this does not mean putting your mental health at risk. If you feel someone or something is proving detrimental to your peace of mind, let go immediately. Or demand some space. Again, the choice is yours.

This rule applies to any social media networking site. If you feel social networking is toxic, pause a bit and check whom you follow.

The point is, you should not be the one making sacrifices when someone else is to blame. Tweak the situation such that you get to do what you like while cleanly cutting off the negativity that is making the experience less enjoyable. In social media sites, sometimes all it takes is a simple unfollow to regain peace.

P.S: No, I do not work for Twitter.

An Ode to People Who Are Not CEOs

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Another day, another Indian CEO. This time the star is from Twitter.

Though I take pride in the fact that an Indian is receiving global fame and accolades, I have not yet tweeted or reposted the news anywhere. It is not because I am salty. It is not because I am a spoilsport. It is not due to envy.

It might be because it all feels a bit… unfair?

Parag Agrawal is from IIT Bombay. He must have reached where he is with much hard work. But hard work alone isn’t the key to success. Is hard work of much use without intellect, without a “beautiful” mind that can come up with path-breaking solutions? You can do all the hard work you like, but if you aren’t smart enough, you are not going to reach the top.

And the truth is – not all of us are blessed with the same level of intellect. It might not even be naturally possible.

“It is thought that around 50 to 80 percent of the variation in general intelligence between people is down to genetics.”

New Scientist

The people who are naturally smart will obviously thrive.

No matter how hard others with lesser intellectual capabilities work, they might never be able to achieve the level of success earned by someone with a higher IQ.

In every phase of our life, appreciation and accolades are for those who are intellectually skilled.

Teachers applaud children who learn the fastest.

Colleges hold tests to admit the smartest.

Companies recruit people who can answer the quickest.

Professional networking sites celebrate those who rise the swiftest.

How often have we seen star students struggle with a math problem, receive terrible grades, not able to understand concepts? They have it easy intellectually compared to others who are not as gifted. Combine brains with hard work – you have got a lethal combo. The CEO material.

Where does that leave the weak? All through life, they might get reprimanded, insulted, mocked for being “below average.” By teachers, colleagues, friends, family. They might never get appreciation. They might never feel valued.

The ones who try so hard to learn tough theories but even after several tries might not master them.

The ones who hope their hard work would compensate for their lack of groundbreaking ideas, innovations, and solutions, in every phase of life. Only to realize, it is not enough.

Here’s to you for trying. And for surviving in this world that only acknowledges and appreciates the rank holders, the quick thinkers, and the naturally gifted.

Here’s to you—the ones who are not CEOs.

An Ode to Informed Opinions

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You are supposed to have an opinion on everything nowadays.

If there is a hashtag trending on Twitter, where people are raging and showing their utter disappointment in something, you are considered indifferent or apathetic if you do not take an active part in the noise. You see posts akin to “Your silence speaks a lot” that curse you for being quiet.

You aren’t supposed to fall on a grey area. It should either be a concrete “Yes, I support this” or a “No, I do not support it” God forbid, you take a neutral stance. I have seen celebrities feeling burdened by this pressure to make a statement about any issue. At times, I have felt “Thank God, I am not a celebrity

What if it isn’t apathy or indifference? What if it’s plain fear – of upsetting your friends if you state your true, honest informed opinion?

Social media, unfortunately, isn’t always right. There’s a herd mentality at play most of the times. People go with the flow rather than doing proper research and making an informed opinion. There are people who protest, just for the sake of protesting. You ask them about the issue and they will have no clue about what’s going on.

It is sort of a ripple effect – when you see your friends taking part in it, you want to join in too, and then your friends see you doing it and they take part in it as well. A fear of missing out, or as the new gen would put it – FOMO. Everyone is too busy to do independent research though, so they trust their friends to have done it already.

You are also scared. You might be considered cold or distant if you do not support your friends in this hashtag trend. Even worse, you are not supposed to have an opinion that is different from theirs. “My way or the highway” is the motto. That confusion and fear stops a lot of people from really opening up. It can also make more people jump into the bandwagon, to add to the noise, impulsively without proper research.

There are times you give your 2 cents, supporting your friend’s opinion, because you trust them to be right. And later on, when you read up on the subject, you are utterly dismayed. You realize you shouldn’t have acted impulsively, and that there’s more to the issue than what meets the eye.

This is the bane of living online these days. You will be fired for having an opinion, you will be fired for having a different opinion, and you will also be fired if you do not have an opinion.

This shouldn’t stop us though, from making an informed opinion especially when it comes to sensitive issues. Your opinion will have an impact on your immediate circle – no matter how big or small that circle is. So why not do it right? Critical thinking has become the need of the hour. The facts are there for everyone to see. I do not mean the “facts” displayed on social media – which can be twisted to fit anyone’s agenda. A quick Google and YouTube search will display all the information you need. Go through multiple materials (from credible sources that are based on facts), read/hear from all sides, and you will definitely start seeing and filtering out the biases from your own knowledge base.

Here’s to more informed opinions, and may you never be stopped from making them.

P.S: I came across this old article “The Burden of an Informed Opinion” on LinkedIn. A very interesting (and much needed) take on learned opinions. Do give it a read to understand the necessity of critical thinking.