Twitter lets us participate in broader conversations and connect with people from many corners of the world. While hearing from more people is awesome, it can also be a source of frustration and misunderstanding when we forget to consider the context. Tweets can be upsetting if one doesn’t understand the full story behind the Tweet. Seeing your @username mentioned in a Tweet can be confusing when you don’t understand why it was used. While it is tempting to immediately respond out of frustration, it may help to stop and review the situation before escalating it further. Here are some helpful tips.
Many people on Twitter use the platform in ways that are specific to Twitter. For those of us who do not speak in 140 characters in the real world, understanding how others use Twitter offers context and lowers the chances of a misunderstanding.
Are they using a hashtag? Hashtags are used to mark events or topics in a Tweet, or to find similar Tweets on Twitter. They can also be used to signify the punchline for a joke or commentary on the Tweet.
Are they referring to a trend? Most trends are determined by an algorithm, not a specific user. This algorithm identifies topics that are immediately popular and are tailored for you based on who you follow and your location. For more information on trends, please visit this page
Additionally, review the @replies and mentions related to a Tweet or the full timeline of the user who posted the content to understand the whole story. You can expand and contract Tweets to view additional information about the conversation and @replies responding directly to the Tweet. Please see Twitter Basics to learn more.
Lastly, double-check that you are the intended recipient of the Tweet. It’s not uncommon for users to misdirect their @replies and @mentions and Tweet to the wrong person.
When you see an upsetting Tweet, step back and consider the larger conversation it may be connected to. Since Tweets are short, only 140 characters long, the author’s intended meaning may have been lost or distorted. Asking directly for more information can nip the issue in the bud. Tweet back using an @reply to join the conversation and surface concerns publicly. Send a Direct Message if you would prefer to communicate privately. Regardless of how you ask, having more information makes it easier to connect the dots.
Conversations on Twitter move quickly and many users Tweet on the fly. It is common for people to Tweet while ‘on the go’, from their phone, or as a quick reaction to an event. Have you checked the timestamp on the Tweet? Consider the nature and time of the event or exchange and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
While considering the context often diffuses a negative or confusing interaction, there are times when further action, like unfollowing or blocking someone, may be more effective. For more information on how to manage these situations, please visit the Abusive Behavior page.