Mean Girls: The Many Factions of Black Twitter

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black twitter

Must.Find.The.Negativity

This past weekend, someone on Twitter made the accusation that Beyonce had been abused by her father. As expected, things quickly went left and this person found herself in a quagmire. After taking heat from some of Black Twitter’s most influential, she apologized. I thought it was over, but noticed something else happen. A few influential folks that didn’t hear about the tweet the night before awakened. And once they heard what happened, they called their followings to arms to address the offender. They reached out to influential followers to seek their thoughts. They (indirectly) asked others to chime in, which basically meant attack. It became clear at that moment who was aligned with who.

In many ways, this reminded me of high school or a play yard. People with a lot of fans were directing their audience toward another person, which is something that unfortunately happens often in Black Twitter. In watching it play out, I was reminded of how cliquey social media platforms — in this case Twitter — can be. I took a few moments to think about what I’ve observed in my timeline, and decided to highlight some of the groups that perpetuate the most negativity. Let’s get into it.

The Feminists

A few months ago I started to write a post on my views about feminism; more specifically, the people who go hard in the internet paint. I told a few friends about my plans and when I said the F word, they immediately told me to chill. They said I’d be torn to shreds or burned at the stake if I said anything that didn’t jive with their beliefs.

I’ll be honest with you. When I got introduced to this online world, I thought feminists were women that harbored misplaced aggression toward men. I could look at someone’s social media presence, and if it was hostile toward those with penises, I labeled them a feminist. I’ve learned since then that all feminists aren’t like that.

Similar to political parties, they have a right and a left. It just happens to be that the loudest voices online often act Tea Party-esquely. These loud voices also often equate negativity with progressivism. If they’re not hostile toward men, name-calling, or spewing what I consider vitriol, then they’re not moving the conversation forward. They’re less interested in being listened to, and more interested in being heard. Coincidentally, that same tactic has tumultuous results in relationships. But this post isn’t about that.

The Ambiguously Influential 

You know those people with a ton of followers, but they’re not affiliated with any particular cause? They kinda just talk sh*t all day? Yeah, that’s who I’m talking about. I certainly don’t believe everyone on Twitter needs to have some cause or spoken affiliation. If that were the case, social media would be calculated and lame.

These are the folks that harbor significant influence, which they often use to “sick” their followers on anybody that speaks against them. I’ve spent time (more time than I’d like to admit) figuring out what it is that makes these people so attractive to their sheep. I’ve decided that it’s the facade of living a care-free life, where they can say and do whatever they want. Most of us have constraints in our daily lives. We go to work and have to filter, or come home and have to do the same with our family and (pick new) friends. Because the Ambiguously Influential can boldly “be themselves,” people who can’t do the same are drawn to them.

The Shaders

Many of the Ambiguously Influential fall into this category. When they’re not living care-free, they’re throwing out shade at celebrities and the non. And since Black Twitter is often drawn to negativity, as long as they’re “keeping it real” about people they’ve never met, their follower count soars. There are others, however, who define themselves by their ability to criticize. And hey, they have that right because of this thing called Freedom of Speech. And for me, these are the people that I often ask myself “Why am I following them?” only to realize it’s because they have a high follower count, which has somehow deemed them credible. As a result, I’ve embarked on a social media herbal cleanse.

The Comedians

Anything for a good joke. Anything for a few RTs. Nothing’s off-limits until the heat makes its way their way, which is when you see they’re real people.

I can get down with some of the comedians though. Simply because their goal is (usually) to make people laugh. There are a lot of people out there enduring the struggles of life, and a laugh is what they need to keep them going. Unfortunately, there are a few in this vacuum that raise my eyebrow because they can’t move up without dragging somebody else down. They live in accordance to the Book of Roasts. And everybody should be able to accept what The Comedians think they rightfully deserve.

The Federation of Celebrity Fans

The Beyhive. Team Breezy. The Rihanna Navy. The Barbie Dolls (The Most Aggressive and often the youngest of the bunch. I weep for our future.)

You’ve most likely heard of them all. You’ve see them in your timeline. When something happens in their celebrity’s life, they’re all over it. We could just call them stans, but they go a step further. They cry promote and praise them at every opportunity. They’ll also defend them until their own online death. If you question the celebrity’s transgressions or dislike something about them, they will sting your avatar into anaphylactic shock. But in real life, they just stare. And maybe, if they’re feeling aggressive, they’ll whip out their phones and tweet about you.

Tweedom Fighters

Tweedom Fighters are floaters. They may or may not have an allegiance to a particular person or persons — though I find they often align with The Feminists.

If there’s a cause they can latch onto and rake muck about,  you’ll find them there. Tweedom Fighters are all (and only) about online activism. Remember Occupy Wall Street? Well, Tweedom Fighters know how to Occupy All Tweets. They rally hard. When a topic’s hot, they’ll tweet their hearts out and go after whoever doesn’t support their opinions. But when the topic of the day has passed, they’re on to their next cause. They’ll also do stuff like co-opt hashtags and then high five each other once they feel they’ve taken over the discussion. The problem is that when they wake up in the morning, everything is the same.

As much as I’d like to say this post is an exaggeration, it reflects reality. Though all groups can be combined under one name (Black Twitter), I find it interesting how divided we continually are. That’s the one thing from this that can sadly be taken from the keyboard to the pavement. These factions aren’t going anywhere, but I hope you take a moment to think about where you fall. And if you fall no where, just understand that you’re probably in a better place than a lot of people. And it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t end this without asking…

Are you just a follower or a leader? And if you’re a leader, where are you bringing your people?

Do you agree with the groups listed above? If not, where would you make changes or what would you add? Do you think men also break down into groups like this? If so, how would you break them down? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts today. And if you know people in your timeline that would appreciate this, do share. 

slimjackson

Twitter: @slimjackson

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  • http://twitter.com/sylquesaid @sylquesaid

    I sometimes have to remind myself that Black Twitter =/= Black Tweeters.

    I watched that travesty happen last night and knew there was no good end possible. One tweet is RTed over and over, meanwhile few get to see the development of thought following the offending tweet.

  • http://www.blacklatinafabulous.com Maris

    This is interesting. I don’t really fall into any category. I miss most of #BlackTwitter best rants, but I usually catch the sane people’s responses. I will say the small amount I am privy to has made me at times self-conscious and believe I’ll be alone for life, so I think I’ll pass on finding out about the rest, lol.

    • http://www.blacklatinafabulous.com Maris

      Sidebar, why do feminists get labeled man-haters? I mean, as black people we understand black activist =/= hater of white people, I never understood why being pro-woman had to mean anti-man.

      • H.H.H.

        from my personal opinion, females that are gung-ho feminists (and the males that are gung-ho feminists as well, slim forgot to mention them in the post), …don't like males. from my vantage point. There are women and men that follow feminist principles, that actually do like men…

        but then again, there are also blacks that are republicans. and police cops that aren't corrupt. i know a few.

        but to be serious, if someone takes a position like feminism and embrace rather extremist opinions of it, or belittles those against it without showing a genuine concern to show how their agenda would benefit both sides, welp…it kinda comes across as man-hating.

      • Paul B.

        Really, you have to wonder why/how they get labeled as such? Yeah, we know not all are like that, but there’s quite a few that CALL THEMSELVES that but have misandrist undertones to their blogs/tweets, say their crap and slide right back in the fold with nobody calling them out because even if they really are such, a lot of men can’t point it out without supposedly “being intimidated” by a woman who speaks her mind or exercising male privilege/patriarchy by supposedly attacking her misandrist views.

      • MissMina

        Omg completely agree with you here. Twitter will make you feel insecure about any and everything possible! I don't understand the fascination with tearing others down.

        I also agree with you regarding Feminism. Traditionally it was never about man-hating, I just think those who don't understand it have come to fear and therefore berate it.

    • Smilez_920

      It’s kind of a two way street.
      A lot of women call themselves feminist, and don’t really understand the context or meaning behind the word (just like men). I mean even within feminism you have women who don’t like each other or try to shade each other “ex: those articles criticizing Michelle about calling herself mom – chief”. So when you get on a public forum like twitter and start to go on “ men ai8T ish” rants and then try to cover it up with I’m a feminist, it doesn’t play out well for the “real” ones in the group.
      With that being said, there are a lot of extreme misogynist running ramped on these twitter streets. I mean half of the “male relationship experts” that people retweet on the timeline are really dancing on that line of misogyny with ever “tweet”. It think when the real feminist do start to tweet about male privilege and a lot of other things that effect women, the men who are looking for attention and want to take cheap shoots (and the random women that follow behind them) come out and try to throw the “man hate “ title.

  • Nikki

    Like @sylquesaid, I watched that happen last night. I also saw the offending tweet be deleted and explained AND an apology given. What I did not expect was the RTing of a deleted tweet AND the vitriol that followed. I know the author of the tweet, and while I can't and won't speak for her, she was simply doing what most people on Twitter do: expressing a thought as she was thinking it. Her error was pointed out to her, she apologized (shocking, I know) and TRIED to move on. Some people just didn't want to let that go.

    Waking up to that mess this morning was. . interesting. I promise you, the older I get, the more life turns into middle school again. *sigh*

    • H.H.H.

      as someone who has been acquainted with the person that made the tweet…i think that was really big of her to show the growth in apologizing in twitter and on a post..unfortunately part of the bad thing about twitter is that many folks like to get their kicks in by saying/RTing opinions that are …how would i say…'out there', and giving their two cents. you are totally right, folks that pushed out the offending tweet, should have at least pushed out the apologizing tweet.

  • kiesh

    I saw the tweet in question and thought it was a dumb thing to say, but I don't understand the whole 'Twitter outrage' thing. Just say it was a dumb tweet and unfollow the person if you feel like it.

    I don't have a negative experience on Twitter b/c I don't seek that shit out. I don't follow negative and/or "popular" people who talk shit all day, and if I find myself following someone like that, I quietly mute or unfollow them. It's just not that deep to me.

  • THD

    Can someone just say who the now deleted tweet's author is? People keep talking about the Beyonce abuse comment and I'm curious to know who made it…

  • Molly

    I think Charlamagne Tha "god" falls into the Ambiguously Influential crossed over with the Shaders and partly Comedian! I dont follow too many females on Black Twitter- despite the fact that i am one. Its too much work and i have a job that pays me already.

    The stans always take it too far, guys- no KIDS- it is not THAT serious!

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    I only follow a portion of black twitter, so I’m usually out the loop, though I did see people #reacting to ol girls tweet. However, while she’s technically a nobody, she has enough of a twitter following to know better. She needs to consider her audience, the first rule of write club (and Yes you can talk about it). Slim runs this blog, while he’s free to express whatever the hell he feels, I’m sure he’s not going to go so outta pocket to isolate his audience. Feminista Jones is no victim, she wanted a reaction and she got one, perhaps not the lols and cosigns she expected but still a reaction. She can’t be mad at the backlash because if it trended and gained steam in the media she’d probably wouldn’t be retracting.

    • Contessa

      Sir, you hot the nail on the head!!

      I too saw the situation unfold and it took that woman the better part of an hour and and an onslaught of tweets – to get her to issue some sort of a sideways apology. She can save it. It was irresponsible and wreck less – for someone who prides herself on being educated, informed, a survivor of abuse, yadda yadda yadda. Feminista Jones spews out baseless tirades far to often and gets away with it under the guise of wanting to enlighten the masses. This time they got her ass all the way together.

      • observer

        Glad someone else is familiar with how this person operates.

        Most people know that she is in social services and THAT is why she got the backlash she did. As an abuse survivor and social services professional, she of all people should know how serious it is to lob that kind of accusation, which is why nobody gave a damn about her "apology". If she hasn't deleted them, I suggest ya'll go back and read the ish-starting tweets about Beyonce that she threw out before the big one that caused the outrage. She didn't "misspeak"; she was building up to it and intentionally trying to start ish for attention, which is par for the course with her if you pay attention.

        If Slim wanted to do a post about how problematic the mob mentality is on Twitter, that's a topic that has merit and can stand on its own. But using this to make your point? Extremely simpleminded and only proves that you don't know or pay attention to the person you're defending.

        • Slim Jackson

          I mean…

          I wasn't defending her though. The incident was merely a catalyst to write about something I thought for a while.
          My recent post Things You Should Know for an Interview

        • MissMina

          I think "Observer" is being a bit harsh, but he or she has a definite point. She did not misspeak. As someone who has followed her for quite some time, and interacted with her, I know she dislikes Beyonce, which is completely fine. The problem is that she was just trying to find a way to top her criticism, and she simply went way too far. I completely agree with this post, but the tweet in question probably isn't the best to illustrate this point/phenomena.

  • http://stanoffewwords.wordpress.com Tristan

    the men on twitter, it’s the armchair pundits (music, sports, politics) I guess That’s where I might could be classified, the comedians, the women panderers, the self promoters, and the thirsty,

    • Larry

      "armchair pundits (music, sports, politics) …" I'll just set up camp under this group and chill.

  • Tunde

    i didn't see what happened with that popular tweeter that night mostly because i wasn't paying attention to that special or my tl for the most part. i was watching a subpar allstar saturday night. when i saw what caused the commotion the next morning i was like really? is that it that serious? its funny how some ppl can think nothing is over the line and will clown and insinuate all day but when they're favorite (insert celebrity, organization, etc) is coming under fire then the capes come out.

    i agree with most of this list. i think the group that irks me the most are the shaders and the federation of celebrity fans. the rest don't really make it past my block, filter and unfollows. i remember i used to to follow this one white dude that was popular amongst black twitter. this past mlk day son actually went in on mlk. i was shocked that ppl really just let that slide. unfollowed with the quickness. celebrity stans on the other hand really, really bother me. perhaps its because there isn't one celebrity that i'd ride for that hard. pause. i'm a fan of a couple but i'm not getting paid to advertise or defend them so why would i? beyonce stans bother me the most.
    My recent post Not Everything Is Ok In Black America, But What’s Next?

  • http://twitter.com/SoJoXOXO @SoJoXOXO

    When I first joined Twitter, I tried to be social with everyone but I have taken a drastic step back – mainly because of some of the groups you've listed. I rarely log on to Twitter anymore and when I do, it's to live tweet something we can all agree on like The Walking Dead. I don't comment on the "topic of the day" at all. So I would classify myself as more of a lurker than either of the other categories, although I have a lot of politically incorrect comments that float in my head regularly that I itch to tweet.

    Of course, men have their own dysfunctional cliques. They are often messier than women. The "pleasantries gurus" , the Joe Budden testicle fleas, and the ones that casually retweet fukkery knowing that they are about to stir up drama – they are there in full force. They are just as damaging as the women. As a matter of fact, pertaining to this weekend's debacle, I saw a lot of MEN retweeting that comment with a snicker and stepping back to let the women take over. I would love to see a post on them as well.

  • Streetz

    this list is very accurate. my advice is to get out of twitter what u can and use it how u see fit.

    I also hate the term "black twitter" but thats another blog for another day

  • jrsirmans

    Can we be real for a moment? Fundamentally, twitter is about the sensation. I came from a perspective of posting thoughts that inspired me to think and nobody liked that. I gave opinions and met support and resentment. I began to realize that twitter was never going to be as powerful a tool as it "could" be utilized to being. It is the first edition; it is the myspace of micro-blogging. Wait for the facebook version. Anyway, being sensational, what is discussed will be hyper emotional and contorted to somehow invoke interest. If it bleeds; it leads.
    This post is really well stated however very water is wet. Perhaps, this is how we begin to move forward to the next phase of micro-blogging.

    I'd like to know who went down this weekend because, well, everyone else is talking about it and I want to be included at least, minimally.

  • Sapphron

    This may be a stupid question but what is black twitter? Is this a twitter within the regular twitter? Yes I am not a social media person by any means, lol.

    • Slim Jackson

      I'd call it a subculture within Twitter made up of black folks talking about a series of common topics to include what's in the link below. Many aren't partial to the term, but it definitely exists.
      http://pbs.twimg.com/media/A-6gcHyCAAAnP7x.jpg:la

  • zillz

    all truth

  • MissMina

    Great post, lots I agree and disagree with. First I have to agree with @SojoXoXo. I'm not sure why this is so directed at "Mean Girls" because I honestly feel that the men in "black Twitter" are the biggest terrorists. Not a day will ever go by without the obligatory tirades about "Ugly heauxs, bitter heauxs, black heauxs, fatherless heauxs, and everyone's favorite "will forever be alone heauxs." It is scary out there for a woman on Twitter smh. The categories as Slim detailed them are definitely alive and well though.

    The Feminist thing is unsettling too. As a self-identified feminist (some of you will go ahead and hit dislike right here lol) I am the furthest possible thing from a man-hater. I'm just interested in equal pay for women, and the like. Slim is right in stating that there are different Feminist classifications though. I just have a problem with such negativity always being thrown at the group due to the loud and extreme minority that do hate men.

    Finally in reference to the infamous tweet, I'm surprised that people are "not seeing the big deal." Child abuse is really nothing to be taken lightly, and it is "a big deal." It's devastating. And careless/mindless chatter that tosses its existence around is dangerous and insulting to survivors. It makes people desensitized, which is pretty evidently in full effect by so many people shrugging the comment off. To me, that was the offense, didn't matter if she used Bey or Katie Couric as the example.

    • amaris79

      True, but let's be real. If she had mused out her thoughts on anyone from Katie Couric to Michelle Williams no one would have cared. She went in before on the inappropriateness of the "relationship" between Michael Jackson and Diana Ross and how it could have affected him and all people did was either nod or scroll by. I'm not defending or condemning, I just found it interesting that "people had enough of her rants" when she started talking about The Queen.

  • curlyk

    The definition of feminist is not to hate all men and women should take over the world. Its frustrating that many people seem to correlate feminism as men bashing. Feminism is actually the belief that men and women should have the same playing field. If my brother can have that job and make that money and have that influence, why cant we? Feminists don’t agree with gender roles in this society. Women who bash men are not feminists.

  • cynicaloptmst81

    The post and comments let me know I'm not missing ANYTHING by living on the outskirts of the twitterverse, lol. I mean, I'm there but…I'm not. Prior to yesterday, my last tweet was in November 2012.

    …sounds like way too much brain power, energy, and emotion is spent on issues and people that really don't matter. Sad.

  • hlbb

    Feminism vs. Misandry

    Feminism is the belief that women should be treated equally and fairly for their contributions to society. To close the gender gap, reduce violence against women (when the purpose of the violent acts are simply because they are women – i.e. rape in war, etc). Extreme "tea party" style feminism isn't feminism. It's misandry.

    Misandry is the hatred of males as a sex, as opposed to misogyny, the hatred of women as a sex. The more we confuse that behaviour with feminism, the longer it will take us as a society to embrace the modern feminist movement. "Modern" as in the issues that face us today and not say for instance, the right to vote.

    The rest of the post was enlightening, because I have tried to stay away from #BlackTwitter for all the reasons you've stated above. It's like crabs in a bucket.

    • http://www.OpinionatedMale.com Mr SoBo

      Well said. The confusion between misandry and feminism more so comes from those claiming affiliation and alliance with feminism. They are branding their own misandry as feminism. The onlookers and those on the receiving end of their vitriol aren't necessarily the one's slapping that label on them. Perhaps just lazily taking their word for it.
      In any event, great comment.
      My recent post ‘Django’ Unchained, Republicans Unchanged: Politics as Usual

  • http://www.OpinionatedMale.com Mr SoBo

    Like FB, MySpace, Blogsites and the like, is Twitter really that serious? I mean, I understand how much of a presence social media has in today's modern age. Its everywhere, but it is escapable. I guess I just fail to comprehend how significant it has become to individual life where cliques, vigilante retaliation and mob mentality etc, exist online. A world within a world. Except that this world is made up of binary codes of 1's and 0's, yet somehow people give it life and momentum by caring.

    I wonder what would happen if everyone just unplugged for a day. Some would probably experience withdrawl symptoms and go into shock, and some others may whither away back into their filtered lives of significantly less popularity, where no one knows their name. No cheers.

    Moving on…
    The feminazi sh*t is real though. The interwebs(especially social media) provides opportunity and a platform for the p*nis envious, hyper aggressive misandry and man hate masked as fem lib to poison the mind's of the impressionable. Not to mention it stains the other factions of the movement who may actually be attempting to balance the playing field to ensure equality. Not usurp the presumed power structure. It makes it difficult to take the mission seriously when you have individuals contaminating it with their contempt, proclaiming themselves feminists.

    Anyway, its amazing to me reading about the social media world and what can happen if one 'steps out of line'. There are powers that be that will use their influence to enforce certain levels of etiquette. Sick the goons on em. lol. The internet has evolved indeed.

    Mr. SoBo
    OpinionatedMale.com

    My recent post ‘Django’ Unchained, Republicans Unchanged: Politics as Usual

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  • The Guy

    u bugging, didn't even include the urban models