It took until January 2017, some 10 years after the creation of Twitter, for Labor’s John Quigley to sign up, with a Twitter handle that marks the occasion (@JohnQuigley2017). When we checked in, he had 17 followers, but followed 87, and it is just possible whoever set his account up was having a laugh.
His follow list includes FIVE accounts from companies specialising in hair loss (one based in San Diego), the official accounts of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United, video star Tyler Oakley, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage … and somewhat-celeb Khloe Kardashian.
As with any social interaction, people tend to follow and like the opinions of those with whom they agree — and ignore those with different positions. On Twitter, that can mean following a small cadre of fellow thinkers, which in turn leads to your understanding of the world being reinforced and filtered through that lens. What does it look like? Some great work from Aalto University in Finland shows how social communities end up in political bubbles where you might have no idea what the other side is discussing, as represented in this polarised discussion below on a protest march in Russia.
How do you avoid missing half the conversation? Follow a diverse range of different accounts — even people with whom you disagree violently — or at least search the hashtags of your philosophical opponents every now and then to see what they are up to. That way if there are any advances in the world of hair loss, or the Kardashians, you will be among the first to know.