@Rawiya Kameir on Cultural Specificity and Hating Twitter

rawiya-kameirRawiya Kameir is a writer and editor in New York. She edits The Outline’s culture section. This week she and I talked about three of her favorite tweets, plus frustration, Virgil Abloh, and why Twitter’s not a reporting tool.

Kameir: The genre of “white people be like” tweets is endlessly amazing to me. Did you know that white people cook chicken in the microwave? And salmon in the dishwasher? Anyway, one thing white people do is enthusiastically talk about how much they love and understand black things.

What are other tweet genres you like? Are there ones you especially dislike?

I love a clapback, a Bossip headline, a messy thread that is so ridiculous it’s gotta be fabricated. I also love the genre of mental health tweets that has helped normalize depression and anxiety without trivializing mental illness. But I mean, deep down I hate everything on Twitter: relationship tweets, awkward AAVE tweets, prank tweets, .@celebrity or .@brand tweets, “viral” tweets.

People on the internet sometimes need to be reminded that no one (except North and Saint West) emerged from the womb a fully formed Instagram #social #media #influencer with a perfect wardrobe of muted tones and clever captions. Virgil had to wear bright red glasses and a bright blue Deray McKesson-style vest over a patterned shirt with a bow tie (???) in order for Off White to fly.

How has the way you use Twitter changed over time?

I used to use it mostly to goof off or to say things I didn’t want to annoy my friends with, but now I use it moreso for information-gathering and knowing what my various communities are talking about at any given time. It’s definitely become something that I associate with my job so I tend to mostly be online during the workday. Also, I used to talk to random people on Twitter. I made some really good friends on there! But no more. But no more. Now I only see notifications from people I follow and I rarely engage with anyone beyond a fav.

Do you ever use Twitter to develop larger-scale writing?

Sometimes I’ll tweet something so I don’t have to write it, so I can just get a thought out there and move on from it. But other than that, not really. I’ve had to do some terrible “Twitter reacts to X” blog posts in the past, but a pet peeve of mine is seeing journalists use Twitter to crowd-source research. Sure, it’s a great way to find people and get in touch with people, but I don’t believe in using Twitter as a reporting tool beyond that. That’s cheating! Call people up, get some real answers!

Everyone turns into a linguist when a new Drake project is released. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing things, we all have knowledge gaps in some subject matters and expertise in others. But your mcm loves to throw stones even though he lives in a glass house. Cultural specificity is something I tweet about a lot, just because I so frequently find myself frustrated by people who speak authoritatively on topics about which they know nothing.

What emotion would you say most often inspires you to tweet?

FRUSTRATION. It’s bad but I do a lot of angry and anxious tweeting. Like, the frequency of my tweets are directly proportional to my anxiety levels.

What are your favorite and least favorite things about Twitter?

Man, I really love how silly people can be. I love to log on and see that an innocuous moment at an award show has become a full-scale meme with, like, Final Cut Pro editing and real effects or whatever. People are smart and funny as hell and are generous with their knowledge.

But I really am disgusted to my core by the groupthink on Twitter (everywhere, really) and how certain people or perspectives easily become an arbitrary yardstick by which to measure people’s experiences. Like, there’s a Right Thing to say and believe and when a news story breaks or an album comes out, you can see people in real time frantically trying to say that right thing. I also hate how easily misinformation spreads, how the most minor things are magnified by Twitter chatter, how follower counts and ratios fully impact our perceptions of people, how people steal tweets so casually, how Trump is just allowed to use it as a political tool, how they really changed Favs to Likes and expect me to just go along with it, how many Confederate flags I see on my timeline. God I hate how much I love Twitter.

Jenny Nelson lives, writes, and performs in Brooklyn.

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