Using Twitter for Good (and Evil)

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On the latest episode of the Substandard, I tell a story about using Twitter for good, and how even in the process of using Twitter for good you kind of have to use it for evil. If you don't want the story spoiled, listen now (it's in the first 20 minutes of the show) and then come back here for some visual depictions of what I was talking about on the show. Go, listen now, I'll wait. While you're at it, maybe you'd like to subscribe and leave a review? We'd surely appreciate it.

So, on Friday night, my wife tells me her tire pressure sensor had blinked on. When I asked her what had happened, she said she hit a pothole on a street we frequently traverse, and I instantly knew the one she was talking about. Here's a somewhat blurry (sorry) picture of the hole:

Not that deep, really, but the jagged edges of the cobblestones present a special hazard for the sides of tires. Sure enough, when I checked there was a big gash in the side of the front right tire.

Wonderful.

So, Saturday morning, I put on the spare and headed over to the dealership to get the tire changed. While waiting for the work to be done, I did what I usually do when I have an hour to kill and no children to keep an eye on: I tweeted. (I tweet a lot you guys.) I wanted to bring the pothole to Rosslyn, Va.'s attention, but a simple complaint was likely to be lost in the noise. So I couched my whinging in a way that might spur some interactions.

If I do say so myself, this is weapons-grade Twitter bait. The conservative half of Twitter will unironically enjoy answering the question, secure in the knowledge that traditional masculinity is something to be celebrated. The progressive half of Twitter will unabashedly hate it, confidently denouncing toxic masculinity and sharing it in order to dunk on it.

Supportive retweets and critical retweets are all retweets in the end, and Twitter is nothing if not a remorseless engagement machine, a service designed to rack up views and shares and eyeballs and clicks. Every hate share and every love share alike meant that whoever runs Rosslyn's account was seeing my complaint.

And what do you know: My whining worked!

Some might say that I messed up by complaining to the wrong group. And I'd be sympathetic to that if it weren't for the fact that mere days after my complaints were registered, the pothole had been fixed!

Twitter had been used for good for once! But in order to use Twitter for good I had to first use it for evil, channeling the anger and angst and manifest rage that just kind of floats around out there in the electronic ether, waiting for an object to which it can attach itself. There's an important lesson here: Evil, actually, is good.

And nothing is more evil than Twitter.