How to become a Twitter activist
Nasty Women, more of us should be on Twitter sharing ideas, actions, resources, and support! Twitter is a great networking and discussion platform, both for new content and for links to other articles and websites. You can find discussions at times that suit you (Tuesday at 1 am? No problem!), and connect with people with all sorts of different races, ethnicities, ages, locations, and passions.
In the age of Trump, Twitter has become an outlet for activists to connect with each other and commend the politicians and public figures they support while taking strong stances against the ones they don’t.
Even without signing up for Twitter, you can read any non-private account’s tweets by going to twitter.com/@username (for example, twitter.com/@NWGSDPDX), but setting up your own free account will be far more convenient for browsing, even if you never tweet anything yourself... although we hope you’ll be inspired to do that, too, before long.
Setting up a Twitter account
Signing up with Twitter
At twitter.com, you can sign up for an account by entering an email address or phone number and a Twitter name. Twitter asks for a “Full name” for your account, but you can enter whatever you want to show to others. If you have or think you might want separate Twitter accounts for non-political purposes, keep in mind that it may be easier if each account has a unique email address and/or phone number associated with it (other people on Twitter won’t see these).
Twitter’s algorithms for recommending content you’d be interested in can be quite effective, so if it doesn’t bother you to have Twitter aware of where you browse, leave the “Personalize Twitter...” box checked. However, consider clicking “Advanced options” and deselecting the “Let others find you...” boxes, if you want more control over which acquaintances and relatives will end up finding out about your account.
When you pick a user name (aka “handle”), try to find one that corresponds somehow to your real name or is otherwise memorably connected to your personality (like @Veganmathbeagle). Lots of names are taken, so you might need to use a middle initial or add something like “pdx,” but choose a shorter and easier to say user name when possible, and you may want to avoid special characters like “_” that are harder to access from phones. (You can change your user name later without losing followers, but it’s easier for people to tweet at you if you don’t change your user name.)
Twitter has various guides and information to help with the rest of your account settings, and you can change them later if you want to by clicking on your picture and selecting “Settings and privacy.”
By default, your account will be set up so that your tweets will be public, meaning anyone can see them (unless they’re looking from an account you’ve blocked). You can protect all of your tweets to restrict visibility to followers you approve, but this step is quite limiting for interactions; the rest of this article is written assuming you have a public account (which could be under a pseudonym).
Creating your Twitter profile
Click on the circle with the image of a person and select “Profile” and then, in the bar near the top, “Edit profile,” to set up information about you that other people will see.
For your “Bio,” decide what description you want people to see when they are considering following you. If you add a hashtag (like #nwgsdpdx), you’ll also show up in searches of that hashtag.
Upload a picture or image to represent yourself by clicking on the camera. Think about how you want to connect with people: do you want them to see your face, or a picture of you doing something, or a cartoon picture, or a logo like NWGSD’s? Pick anything non-copyrighted that you’re comfortable with, and change it whenever you want. Twitter cuts off outside corners to make a circular picture, so if you have a rectangular logo and want to include the whole thing, paste it into a document and do a screen grab of a larger section around the logo so the cropped part is just white space.
For your header photo, which is the image people will see across the top of your page if they go to your account, select a NWGSD image or any other image you have the rights to use, or just leave it blank. There are several options below, and more Twitter headers you can download here.
You can change anything in your profile later.
Reading from your Twitter account
After you have a Twitter account, you can set up your “timeline” (the tweets you’ll see on your Twitter home page) by following other accounts. To do this, search for a person’s or organization’s name or Twitter user name in the upper right, like this:
Click on the account name to go to their Twitter page, and click “Follow” (bottom right in this image):
We’d suggest following @nwgsdpdx, of course; this article, which lists Twitter accounts of some top political activists of the Resistance, may be a good source also. As you follow more accounts, Twitter’s recommendations of other accounts to follow will be increasingly useful. Anyone can see the list of who you are following, and in fact you may want to look at other like-minded users’ lists to get some ideas of who to follow. For instance, in the image above, you could click on the “Following 1,377” to see whom Ali is following.
What to read on your Twitter timeline
Reading things on Twitter can be somewhat overwhelming if you don’t set some ground rules that work for you. Some people have compared Twitter to a rushing river: you’ll get stressed out if you try to experience everything, but if you think of it as a place you can go to whenever you want to and just let it flow by when you don’t have the time or inclination to deal with it, it can be useful and invigorating without being overwhelming.
If you notice a tweet you think might lead to interesting responses, you can click on it to see more of the conversation, although different branches may sometimes be hard to follow.
Your choice of who to follow affects your experience the most. In the screenshot above, you can see that Ali follows many accounts, in order to be supportive. If you want to actually read all or most of your timeline—that is, all tweets from everyone you follow, on your Home page—you probably will want to limit yourself to a lot fewer follows than her 1,377.
Alternatively, you can explore using Tweetdeck or a similar app to give you more options, such as having a column which only shows certain favorite accounts from among those that you follow. Tweetdeck is also nice if you have multiple accounts. Here’s a screenshot of Tweetdeck on Chrome on a computer:
Aside from reading your timeline (Home page) with the accounts you already follow, you may want to search for people by name (or click on anyone’s user name to go to the page with their tweets), or search for tweets marked with certain hashtags. Hashtags are words or phrases starting with “#” which can be used to flag people’s attention. For instance, in this screenshot, entering the hashtag “#InOurAmerica” in the search bar brings up results starting with Molly’s tweet:
“Top” shows the posts with that hashtag that Twitter thinks are likely to be the most important; you can click on “Latest” to see all posts with that hashtag in reverse chronological order.
If you see a hashtag in your timeline and it intrigues you, you can also click on the hashtag in a tweet to see other tweets with that hashtag.
If you like something you read, you can click on the heart at the bottom of the tweet, and it will turn red:
Many people use the “like” heart to support the original poster (who gets notified), and tweets that you like may also be recommended to your followers by Twitter. Other people use the heart essentially as a bookmark, because you can go to your own account page and click on “Likes” in the top bar to see all of those tweets later.
Tweeting and retweeting from your account
When you feel ready, jump into the conversation! Much more so than in real life, it’s considered perfectly fine to join a conversation on Twitter whether you’re mentioned or not and whether the people know you or not.
Tweet your own ideas and questions by clicking on the blue Tweet button at the top right, or typing into the box labeled “What’s happening?” Your tweet will show up in your followers’ timelines, and if you add a hashtag (see above), it will show up in searches for that hashtag, so people may find it even if they didn’t previously know about your account. If you enter another user’s name with the @ sign in front, that user will generally also see the tweet in their notifications.
Retweet someone else’s tweet by clicking on the recycle-like arrows at the bottom of the tweet. You can add a comment (which will appear above the other person’s tweet) or leave that part blank. Your followers will see your retweet, and the original poster will be notified you retweeted the tweet. Retweets, like other forms of conversation, can be loving and supportive, or angry and righteous, or anything in between. One advantage they have over regular conversation is that you can use them to directly promote and magnify other people’s voices, especially those who have been underrepresented or marginalized in our media and politics.
Reply to a tweet by clicking on the quotation bubble at the bottom of the tweet. If you are replying in the middle of a conversation, your reply might go to everyone who’s contributed so far, so if you want to, you can click on the “Replying to...” line to un-check some accounts to leave them off the reply.
Important reminder: your tweets, retweets, and replies won’t show up in everyone’s timeline (and your replies may not show up in even your followers’ timelines), but none of them are private – in fact, you can see any public account’s replies by clicking on “Tweets & replies” from their Twitter page. If you do regret a tweet, you can delete it, but keep in mind that anyone can get a screenshot of your tweet while it’s up, possibly out of context.
Who to ignore and how to do that
Of course you are the one who should decide how you want to use Twitter, but we encourage you to think about how to focus on getting shit done. A long Twitter argument with some random dude who doesn’t understand your points or share your values is not only possibly a waste of your time, it also reduces the time and energy you can spend on more useful reading, tweeting, and networking.
How Nasty Women can find each other
When you set up your account, tweet to @nwgsdpdx! We are planning to set up a Twitter list, and when we do, you can look at it by clicking on our account name and selecting Lists.
If you and another account follow each other, you have one more option for connecting through Twitter: direct messages. These are basically texts that are invisible to people not addressed in the direct message. If someone suggests “DM me,” that’s what they’re talking about.
YOU GOT THIS!
If you’re feeling a little panicky at the idea of doing all the things in this article, please remember, take your time and move at the pace that works for you! Very few people on Twitter participate because they’re expected to be there or get paid for it; we just do it when we can because we learn, speak up, communicate, and have fun.
If you’re not finding Twitter to be enjoyable or useful, ask someone who does like it to help you connect until you do. There’s no one right way to use Twitter; figure out your own way. We’ll see you on there!