Sunday, October 09, 2016

How to Use Twitter to Argue for a Cause

When trying to use Twitter to argue a position, one needs to consider what the goals are. Generally, there are at least 4 things Twitter is useful for:

(1) Disseminating information to people who support your position. Linking to articles, blogposts, etc., that provide support for a position allows people to improve their arguments, as well as provides them with things they can link to to support their position in the future. Finally, it helps to keep their moral high and to prevent discouragement.

(2) Providing support to your side in an argument. Joining in a conversation and supporting the people arguing for your side can help their morale and can give alternate perspectives for the other side. In addition, if you can provide links to articles, etc., supporting your side, you help to provide support for the facts of your argument (as well as helping the other people on your side in the future).

(3) Directly appealing to those on the opponents' side. Basically, trying to convince an opponent to consider your side. This requires being polite, and when possible appealing to your opponents' concerns that would ten to support your side rather than belittling the ones they disagree with. For example, when arguing with a liberal pointing out that the Koch brothers are supporters of mass immigration, and that it lowers wages, makes more sense than accusing them of wanting to commit white genocide.

(4) Discrediting your opponents. Generally, exposing the flaws of a someone's arguments (politely) to someone who supports them might make them less likely to trust that person (or at least their judgment) in the future. This is particularly important when arguing with someone who has some level of influence, as reducing their influence on others might make them change their attitude, or at least could reduce the damage they can do.

A good way to use Twitter, I would argue, would be to find conversations on a topic. Find ones where there is at least one person on your side. If you have an effective rebuttal to the person who is not on your side, reply to that person, and include at least one or two people on your side in the mentions. (The longer your reply, the fewer people you can use, obviously). One trick you can use to allow longer responses is to make a longer tweet, with your links in it, not responding to anyone, and then in your response, link to that tweet rather than stating your arguments in the response. The goal is to get other people who support you to retweet your position, or to further respond, backing up their arguments.

You can also include at least one other person in the tweet who disagrees with you, in hopes that one of your opponents may be provided with a reason to question the other. But do not include too many (having 2 opponents mentioned in one tweet is probably a good limit), because if a large number of them block you, you could get suspended. (This also means that you should only join one or two arguments at a time, so that you do not risk getting too many consecutive blocks). Also try to avoid arguing with someone who appears to be irrational or block-happy. You can also always click on your opponent's names later to see if they have blocked you. If you were able to join an argument without getting blocks (especially important; has the opponent tweeted since you joined the argument - i.e. have they been on Twitter and had a chance to block you but did not?) you can probably join another.

In between this, you can of course use Twitter to publicize links, or to post helpful things to people on your own side - for example, post an article supporting a position they have taken, or suggest a better way to phrase something. And of course, keep retweeting good tweets, etc. The point is, make your arguments only 10%-30% of your Twitter posting, so you don't seem to be always spoiling for a fight. I don't know for certain that this helps prevent suspensions, but I have not been suspended for more than 2 years using this strategy, so it seems to work fairly well.

Happy tweeting!

That is all.

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