Social Media doesn't have rules. We make the rules. The tools develop depending on how they are used. I hardly used Twitter for the first 5 years I was on it. I had a very persistent friend who loved it, and kept trying to get me hooked. I tried, but it felt like it was just an sms to the world. Shouting into the infinite abyss. The trick, for me, was to get involved. Join the conversation.
Shouting into the Abyss
There is no more powerful tool I know of for connecting Global Citizens. There is no more powerful tool for actively constructing a flow of information that allows me to chip away at my ignorance. I look for real people. I try filter out the ones using Twitter as a loudhailer and look for those who are listening.
Since there are no rules, I use the rules of real life. Relationships are normally better when both people are interested in each other. No one likes someone who only talks about themselves, and isn't interested in others. There are also plenty of people who have interesting ideas and are ready to engage. I focus on them.
I am constantly looking for real people on Twitter. Like going to a party of a friend where you can meet their friends. I will follow people and see what they are talking about. Eventually, if they show no interest in pursuing a conversation, I move on. I don't take it as an affront. People are busy. They don't know me. I don't have to convince them to engage. So I will unfollow those who don't follow me back eventually. Like I would eventually drop my hand if I put it out to greet someone and they didn't notice.
This means I follow a lot of people. In order to focus my reading, I am a power user of Twitter Lists. You can set up public ones which others can see, but you can also turn the setting on private. This means I can have a variety of lists on a variety of topics. These are my constructed filters of what is going on in the world. It means I can consciously choose to make time to listen to bits of the news that don't normally make the headlines.
Yes, I can have a list of people talking about the issues facing the West like Clinton-Trump, Brexit and Terror Attacks. I can also have lists about areas facing Civil War, Mass Unemployment, and Extreme Poverty. I can have lists to ensure I am listening to voices that are normally under represented.
Social Media gets a bad rap, but I find it an incredible catalyst for real world interaction. I like using real world rules to help it help me. Be interested in people. Be kind. The world is a fascinating place and there is lots of good work going on.