Problematic Content

People ask me why I’m still on Twitter, and in 2017, it’s been a difficult question to answer.

Twitter has had an abuse problem for almost its entire life. People have felt empowered to be assholes in 140 characters or less — some because they can do so with few/no consequences, some because they’re just assholes to begin with. It’s a wonder that anyone joins at all, these days.

I joined Twitter in 2008 because my mentor at Vanguard joined, and she joined because a bunch of other UX Designers joined, and ultimately, you go where the conversations are.

I joined to livetweet UI 13. I joined to read the feeds being produced by the likes of Jared SpoolDoc Baty, Donna Spenser, and Luke Wroblewski, but I stayed because I started making friends.

As the years have passed, I’ve continued to follow people like Ethan Marcotte, Mat Marquis, Kristina Halvorson, Jeremy Keith, and Karen McGrane, and I am constantly amazed when the recognize me (either on Twitter or in person). I don’t expect it – they have a combined gazillion people following them.

The reason I stay is only partly because of everything I’ve learned from the wise people in UX Design on twitter. It’s mostly because I’ve met tons of people I consider friends, from former co-workers like Ellen King, Patrick Lowery, Gina Puzo and Richard Dalton, to combined pinball buddies/UXers like Sarah Hopkins, people I’d like to be better friends with like Tom Henrich and Sarah Wachter-Boettcher… the list goes on and on.

(Well, technically it doesn’t, because I have myself on a strict diet of following less than 150 accounts. More than that and I can’t keep up — and I say that as someone who once tried to regularly follow and read 350 accounts a day.)

The point is that this community, no matter how cruel, mysogynistic,  opinionated, and stupid Design Twitter can be, has also been a source of friendship, comfort, education, and laughter for me for going on 10 years. People have comforted me when death and illness have overshadowed my family. They’ve laughed with me when my puppies were lunatics. They’ve taught me much more than User Experience. Dylan Wilbanks and Elaine Nelson have even gone so far as to run this amazing site with me, even when I’m a total asshole.

Like any novel written by Orson Scott Card, Star Wars’ stupidly-white original three movies, Joss Whedon’s work, and the art depicting just about any woman on the backglass of any pinball machine,  Twitter is my problematic fave.

I’ve seen a lot of ugly, stupid shit. Some of it’s small, and some of it makes Teen Vogue magazine and most days I’m just happy if we have more small shit than big.

But when it blows up and dies a fiery mess (and I’m still pretty confident that it’s going to blow up), I’m going to miss Twitter for the friends it has given me and the opportunities it has brought.

Author: Anne Gibson

anne gibson is a Senior Staff Product Designer and General Troublemaker working on design systems from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She's an editor and writer at The Interconnected. She is also published at A List Apart and The Pastry Box, and publishes short fiction when she's not persuading the terriers to stop wrecking things. (The terriers are winning.)