Why People On Twitter Avoid Your Essays, Mixtapes and Other Art

©2016 Trudy | Drift Sojourn

©2016 Trudy | Drift Sojourn

Whenever artists/creatives want other people to engage their writing, music, or other artistic content/products (outside of general conversational tweets) on Twitter, they tend to approach this in 4 core ways: general sharingSPAM-based sharing, relationship-based sharing, and context-based sharing.  

General sharing

General sharing involves an artist simply using their own Twitter account to send general tweets out about their work (which may or may not include "please RT," but the tweet is not addressed to any specific users). The artist relies on their followers and anyone else who may see the tweets (i.e. via inclusion of hashtags, such as a celebrity name or subject) to move that content and gain supporters and/or customers.

SPAM-based sharing

SPAM-based sharing ignores relationships, timing, context, boundaries and what seems like even sense. This involves (primarily) men (from my experience) who bulldoze their way into any tweet thread/conversation on any topic—no matter how unrelated, painful, severe or even triggering—and slam their links in there. Listen to their music NOW. Watch their YouTube NOW. Buy their product NOW. They seem to expect to be ignored, but they continue to do this anyway. Any response that admonishes their crude derailment is met with aggression, of course. Other men have timelines full of repetitive tweets with links that they send to absolutely anyone and do not seem to measure their output versus engagements. Men have mocked me for tweeting about #GiveYourMoneyToWomen (shoutout to @YeoshinLourdes, @BardotSmith and @ChiefElk) from my own account, yet they spam people with their Soundcloud links and YouTube profiles. I do not spam a soul; instead I mention (as general tweets) supporting women who are already exploited for their physical, intellectual and emotional labor—something that I have discussed for years on Gradient Lair in terms of Black women's experiences, at that—versus entering men's mentions. Men who are cognitively dissonant about their desire for support yet harm me for desiring the same are not the only ones who have harassed me about #GYMTW; in fact, it is primarily White men who are not artists who do. Despite the continual exploitation of women, and the gargantuan wage, median wealth and generational wealth gap between White men and Black women like me, they continue to engage in misogynoir and trolling towards me. 

Intraracially among Black people, I notice that Black men engage in SPAM-based sharing (which I have tweeted about in detail before) way more than Black women do, although a few times Black women have done this to me and if I reject this type of engagement, they respond with passive aggression or some form of exploitation of fictive kinship. In other words, "Blackness" and "sisterhood" and "womanism" mean that they can address me however they choose and I should silently accept. This is unidirectional, manipulative and harmful. Additionally, there are people (of a variety of backgrounds; it is less about who they are and more about me being a hypervisible Black woman online) who craft cattle call tweets and make demands on me solely to punish me for having more followers than they have, something that they deeply resent. I elaborated on this and other really gross SPAM-related sharing behaviors before in I Do Not Like The Ways That Most People Use Twitter. I definitely do not do SPAM-based sharing. It is repulsive to me and I have been insulted too many times for not responding with elation to this horrendous tactic to then engage in it. Perhaps no one wants to read essays, listen to mixtapes or buy art from aggressive people who SPAM then react with rudeness or aggression when their methods are not well-received.

Relationship-based sharing

Relationship-based sharing happens among associates and friends; it is when people know each other reasonably enough to want to engage with eachother and boost eachother's creations. People who actually speak to me regularly, care about my well-being and engage me as a person and not a concept actually build relationships with me and other people; thus, I usually do not mind signal boosting something that they have made, although I usually prefer it come of my own choice and not a request. Often times, they share their creations as generic tweets and I am so delighted with the actual creations or moved by the actual causes that I signal boost them of my own free will. Relationship-based sharing works with people who do not view me as just a mule with a microphone and the means to get them the ministrations that they desire. 

I do engage in relationship-based sharing, but more often as a booster than someone who requests it. For example, there are Black women who are independent artists that I buy jewelry, books, art and t-shirts from and I have known them online for several years. Honestly, there is a reason why Black women outnumber anyone else as my online vendors among indie creators and it is not fictive kinship; it is how they actually engage me as a person. And while I think it is important to center Black writers and other creatives in my life—the mainstream makes it clear that Black art is to be consumed as a product and stripped from its cultural richness, while Black artists are to be insulted, degraded or dehumanized—one of the reasons that I engage a lot of Black women writers, for example, is that many are respectful enough for me to even want to approach their writing versus them thinking that I "owe" them an instantaneous read and review. Facing this "you owe me" mentality is not just my own personal experience, but also a facet of misogynoir against Black women. 

Context-based sharing

Context-based sharing is when artists—especially writers—wait for the opportune time to share/re-share something based on existing discussions or the current sociopolitical climate. I tweeted about this in 2014, where I basically mentioned:

Some people randomly go around begging people to read their essays. Want to know how mine get 300-20K+ notes? Don't beg. Share at an opportune moment. Are people discussing class/race? Then tweet your essay on those topics versus sending a direct message to someone at 6:00am begging for an immediate read/response. Talking with someone you do not follow, about a complicated topic that you already wrote on? Then share your essay versus randomly spamming other people's follower lists.

To be clear, I do not value receiving a lot of Tumblr likes/notes/comments nor Twitter likes/retweets in of themselves. (I find it very stressful to have "viral" tweets almost daily.) However, people consistently want to know how I get them. Be yourself. Stop trying to "market" more than actually "being." Whomever the hell you actually are, be that person always. Do not SPAM. Make good content. Share at opportune times. Cultivate relationships. However, I do not create relationships with people solely to "capitalize" (eww) on them later. I rarely ask anyone for a thing online in terms of receiving attention. I have been clear about how harmful hypervisibility is to an unaffiliated Black woman without a lot of financial resources for the safety/self-care/mental health care needed to handle consistently being in the Twitter spotlight and dealing with hyperconsumption and online abuse. 

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If writers, artists and other creatives are serious about their desire to have people engage what they create, then they need to examine how they engage people. Lose the entitlement and instead respect their potential readers, audiences, consumers. Do not interrupt people's conversations with self-promotion. (No, I do not think self-promotion as an independent artist who is trying to survive is inherently evil, but context and timing matter. People have to survive long enough to fight oppressive systems like capitalism, for example. People who think denying Black women income is somehow "anti-capitalist" are misogynoiristic.) Do not expect things from people if you do not even listen to their basic stated boundaries or care about what happens to them at all. Stop engaging people with a lot of followers—especially when they are Black women, as there are complex issues of exploitation and misogynoir that we already face—as microphones who "owe" you instead of as people who perhaps worked hard to cultivate their following, or may not really want the large following that we have and simply want to be able to be artists and create in the absence of exploitation and abuse.

Why on earth would I want to listen to someone's song when they interrupt a thread of mine—for example, on the seriousness of Black children who experience sexual and physical abuse—with their unrelated art/product link? Why on earth would I want to support men who SPAM Soundcloud links if they simultaneously think they can continue the exploitation of Black women's emotional and intellectual labor and mock any support that we request? Why on earth would I want to read someone's essay when they spam my Direct Messages and expect an immediate response, or worse, a free editor for their writing that they are being paid to create/assigned in school? These are just a few of the disgusting ways that people engage with me—these are actual examples—but still expect my support of their work. If an artist truly respects their art, they will respect the people that they want to engage it.  

Related Posts: Respect and Accept Art In The Format The Artist Makes It In, Dealing With Disrespect For My Time and Creative Process As An Artist