‘Menswear Guy’ Marks a Shift in Twitter’s Main Characters

“I don’t want to bother people,” says Derek Guy, the California menswear writer behind the @dieworkwear Twitter account, which has been inevitable for a majority of Twitter users in recent weeks—much to her chagrin. “I’m not the one who chooses to invade people’s timelines,” Guy adds. “This is how the algorithm works.”

Guy’s unexpected ubiquity on Twitter has proven to be a double-edged sword. He’s received a lot of positive reactions, including from people who feel they’ve learned how to dress better thanks to the random appearance of his advice on their timelines, but he’s also garnered a lot of hate. The attention has changed the way he uses Twitter. “My timeline now, I can’t even keep up with it,” he says. “I don’t read all the comments, but a lot of the comments I do read are hostile.”

Such a significant change in the way people deal with online fame and prominence could require a shift in how we think about the impact of social media, says Cobbe. “A lot of people have spoken out about the problems with the platform algorithms that encourage hate speech and conspiracy theories and content that could harm people’s mental health,” she says. “But the other side that’s less talked about is that people can get their thoughts across to an audience that they might not be expecting. Sometimes that can help raise awareness of things that need it, or it might give someone the break they’ve been looking for.”

Suddenly being exposed to an audience of millions, most of whom are strangers, when you’ve previously posted to a handful of friends is not an uncommon experience on social media. TikTok, for example, is being praised for its algorithm’s ability to pull the unknown out of the airwaves and turn them into overnight stars. More kids want to be YouTubers than astronauts. But you have to register for this. Twitter users like Guy haven’t asked for it — and aren’t always sure they want it. And unlike the folks who have previously cornered Twitter’s collective attention, these users haven’t necessarily done anything to incur the scrutiny that comes with it. “Most people, when they become the main character of Twitter for the day, are almost consistently negative,” says Guy.

With that in mind, Twitter users may need to be a little more conscientious when tweeting. There are signs it is already happening. Some users, confronted with Guy’s unsolicited tweets in their timelines, attacked or mocked him in front of their followers and tagged him. Others were no less frustrated but deliberately avoided tagging him — as a search for “menswear guy” shows. But a third group chose a different route: instead of howling about the intrusion, they moderated their actions. A legion of people have silently blocked or muted Guy’s account — and he doesn’t know it until he clicks on their profile.

It’s a better, more caring way of handling the challenge, says Cobbe. “For many people, suddenly being exposed to a large and not necessarily receptive audience on a platform like Twitter or TikTok can be a confusing and harrowing experience.” This calm approach doesn’t add to the confusion.

Even better would be a switch from the platforms themselves, she adds. “We need them to be more careful about the people who recommend them – especially if it leads to them being misused.” If companies don’t do that, Cobbe has a solution: “We should legislate, regulate and others.” Use Mechanisms to craft them.”

https://www.wired.com/story/menswear-guy-twitter-main-character-shift/ ‘Menswear Guy’ Marks a Shift in Twitter’s Main Characters

Zack Zwiezen

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