Once upon a time, Twitter used to be a simple place where people could keep tabs on each other by regularly posting short updates, kind of like that distant relative who briefs the extended family once a week with a family newsletter-style mass email, only much more succinct and digestible. Back in the day, you could only tweet 140 characters, so brevity was a skill one was required to hone if they wanted to use Twitter. At 9:50pm on March 21, 2006, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sent the first tweet ever out into the digital world—'just setting up my twttr.' At first, the tweets that followed were just as mundane and innocuous, reflecting the humble vision for the fledgeling social network at the time. Some of the first tweets ever include, 'wishing I had another sammich' and 'having some flowery orange pekoe tea' and 'feeling pains in my back.' We've come a looooong way since those early Twitter days, to say the least. It's impossible to diagnose the exact turning point from harmless, uncomplicated Twitter to the toxic Twitter hellscape everyone loves to hate today, but increasing the character limit to 280 probably didn't hurt. What used to be a place for people to update followers about their lunch is now a place where millions are hungry to own their enemies with snide subtweets, sanctimonious hot takes, and disparaging jokes. If you're logging on to a social media account knowing you're about to see mostly cringe and negativity, it probably safe to call that space a toxic environment.
One common theme of contemporary toxic Twitter is gatekeeping. What is 'gatekeeping' exactly? It's basically when someone claims authority over enjoying or accessing a hobby, interest group, or identity based on fake rules. For example, 'If you don't know who this musician is, then you're not a real jazz fan.' Or you might be familiar with the popular meme that aptly mocks the gatekeeper: 'Oh, you like movies? Name all of them.' Recently, self-proclaimed King of Anime @BlackDGamer1 tweeted the ultimate pro-gatekeeping hot take that caused some discourse that was exemplary of what Twitter is like now. 'If all your common knowledge of anime, is Demon Slayer, Naruto, Inuyasha, Bleach, One Piece, Fate, Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Gundam, My Hero Academia, Yu-Gi-Oh & Ghost in The Shell, then you're NOT an anime fan! Normies stay the f*ck out of Anime!' That's a whole lot of anime one could watch and still not qualify for the official 'Anime Fan' club card. Though some attempted to make a case for gatekeeping nerdom from the normies, most people argued that letting others enjoy things is fine and good. We've collected some tweets from the gatekeeping anime discourse to paint a picture of the toxicity of Twitter for you. Maybe some day we can return to tweeting about the simple mundanities of life. Or perhaps some kind of weekly Twitter holiday can be instated that prohibits negative vibes.