Chronic Sex Chat 101: Participating in Twitter Chats

Have you wanted to participate in Twitter chats, but aren’t sure how? Wondering about the best ways to lurk? You’re in luck!

Twitter basics

Since not everyone spends all day on social media, here are some basics about Twitter.

I find it to be a great medium, especially for disability activism. That said, there is a lot of harassment and abuse on Twitter, too. They have a history of not condemning actual hate speech, siding more often with aggressors especially in marginalized communities.

Anatomy of a Tweet

Let’s look at a Tweet, shall we?

Tweet from Chronic Sex (@chronicsexchat) at 4:04 PM Central Time on 14 Oct 2017 with 3 retweets and 10 likes: "Blocking someone for [new line] Self-care [new line] Care of others [new line] Energy reservation [new line] Any other reason [new line] Is something that no one should have to explain"

As you can see, this is the Chronic Sex Twitter account posting something. There’s a time stamp here along with some information. We see that this has gotten 3 Retweets, listed in text but also as the recycle symbol at the bottom there. A Retweet or RT is when someone clicks that recycle button and reposts your content on their page. It still comes up as your tweet with nothing changing, aside from a person’s followers being exposed to what you’re saying.

Someone’s followers may also be exposed to your tweet if who they follow has ‘liked’ what you say. Here, we see that 10 people ‘liked’ this tweet as demonstrated again in text and with a little heart. To like someone’s tweet, you simply click that heart.

There’s also a text bubble at the bottom with a one next to it. This means there is one reply to this tweet. In this case, I replied to it myself to expand on my thought. When people do this, it’s called a thread.

That little carrot in the upper right allows you to copy the link to tweet or share this elsewhere, embed the tweet, or even do things like report content as long as you’re logged in.

Additionally, you can now quote-tweet which allows you to add a short comment while sharing the tweet in question.

Quote tweet example - original tweet from Cameron Esposito: "One more time: the President of the United States said the Vice President wants to hang all queer ppl" with my quote above it "If you weren't already concerned, you should be"

One of the best uses for this is to add trigger or content warnings. A post on these is coming soon, but some of the most important to add are gifs in link, sexual assault, rape, childhood sexual abuse (or CSA), murder, death, suicide, suicidal ideation, and various forms of discrimination (ableism, transmisia {gifs in link}, misogyny, etc.).

Twitter Profile

It’s always good to look at an account’s profile page to learn more.

Twitter profile for Chronic Sex (@chronicsexchat)

There is a banner across the top, much like Facebook has. There is also a circular profile photo. You have your name as you want it displayed, which is different than your handle. For instance, because someone else has the handle @chronicsex, ours is @chronicsexchat despite the fact that our organization’s name is Chronic Sex.

You can include hashtags in your profile bio. You have a limited number of characters in which to express what you want to show the world. Brevity is something Twitter is great for, though they are working on expanding character limits for Tweets. This is rolling out in stages, though, so don’t expect an expansion for your account soon.

You can also pin a tweet to the top of your page. Most people use this to share either a popular tweet of theirs or the beginning of a thread to share more about themselves than they can in the bio.

A quick note

In this age of White Supremacists on social media, there are some very important things to keep in mind. It may be best to have a screen name that isn’t associated directly with your name. A nickname or something might be good.

If anymore makes comments to you that are uncomfortable, you have every right to block them. There are two features that I suggest using. The first, of course, is block. The second is mute. You can mute people while they participate in chats that might be triggering to you, etc.

General Twitter chats

Most Twitter chat hosts will post rules specific to their chats in the moments leading up to chat time. When in doubt, stick to those rules.

Most importantly, in order to fully participate in chats, your profile should be set to public. You also need to include whichever hashtag the chat is using. That way, people will be able to see and interact with your tweets.

The easiest way to follow a chat is using that hashtag. Type the tag (including the hash) into your search bar. You’ll be taken to a page full of tweets with a navigation bar like the one below:

navigation bar from Twitter: Top, Latest, People, Photos, Videos, News, Broadcasts

If you click on ‘Latest,’ you’ll see tweets as they come in under the tag. You can also use TweetChat or another third-party site. These tools ask you to log in with your Twitter information. TweetChat automatically adds the hashtag for the chat to every tweet you send which is valuable.

Questions may be either numbered or labeled as Q# or T#. Q stands for Question and T stands for Topic. Chats using the Q format generally ask that answers then use A# or quote-tweeting. This way, it’s easier to keep track of which question you’re addressing. If you’re on a chat using T, know that they tend to be shorter and focused on up to 5 topics in total. That’s not a rule but seems to be the case.

I always suggest lurking for one or two chats. You’ll start to get a feel for the people within the chat as well as how things are handled.

#ChronicSex chat

Ground rules

First off, I do ask that we stick to the topic at hand as much as possible. There are a few reasons for this. If we used the tag as just another way to talk about everything, it wouldn’t mean as much. There are also topics that can be quite triggering and I like to give people a heads up on if we’re discussing those things. It’s bad to come into a space and then find yourself triggered because of a lack of warning.

Likewise, staying on topic can be incredibly important for many of us who need structure. I need rules. It’s a part of my anxiety and growing up in isolation. Rules and guidelines can help set expectations that, for many of us, are beneficial.

I also always ask that people refrain from the following while participating in chat:

  • Bigotry or discrimination
  • Insulting or bullying
  • Selling ‘cures’ or any ‘replacements’ for medications
  • Cockblocks to connection like
    • Unsolicited advice
    • Comparisons
    • Cure Evangelism
  • Hitting/creeping on people
  • Soliciting sex

It’s also important to know that, while someone may share their personal success stories with something, our chat is not set up for giving medical advice, endorsing types of care or activities, or replacing information from your personal healthcare team.

Chat details

For our chat, we utilize the Q# system. Since many people don’t feel comfortable using our hashtag for a variety of reasons (work, family, etc), I’ve also started asking as many questions as I can via poll. This is great because you can click an answer that resonates with you and it’s anonymous.

Chronic Sex Twitter acct (@chronicsexchat) asks "Q2: How are you feeling right now? #chronicsex" Poll answers are: Scared AF (9%), Angry (4%), Burnt Out (72%), or Powerless (15%). This had 46 total votes.

People are welcome to answer the questions via poll, reply, quote-tweet, or whichever method(s) are easiest for them.

If you’re answering a question with your own words, your answer may be retweeted or quote-tweeted by myself or others in the chat.

Our chat time is 8 pm Eastern | 7 pm Central | 6 pm Mountain | 5 pm Pacific. If you’re outside of these time zones, please consult a time zone converter. Unfortunately, my health currently prevents me from running two chat times. That said, the polls are open for 24 hours after they’re posted and plenty of people participate throughout the next week. It’s perfectly fine to jump in whenever it’s most convenient for you.

Interested in other chats?

Here are a few other chats you may be interested in.

SpoonieChat – Weds, 8 pm Eastern

Dawn Gibson started this chat a few years ago to help bridge the divide across illnesses and disabilities. Many of us face similar issues – such as planning for disasters – and can learn a lot from each other. Commonly referred to as the web auntie, Dawn is one of the most caring people. I’m lucky to call her my friend.

HCLDR – Tues, 8:30 pm Eastern

Run by Colin Hung and Joe Babaian, the acronym stands for Healthcare Leader. This chat talks about a variety of issues those working in and around healthcare face today, regardless of what role we play. Patients are always a large part of the discussion – and always welcome.

FilmDis – Sat, 9 pm Eastern

Dominick Evans is a well-known disability activist. He’s been running this chat since 2014 due to the lack of disability representation in film and media. Recently, FilmDis took off as an official national non-profit. Past topics have included disability in Disney, video games, and shoddy Autism representation in shows like The Good Doctor.

CriptheVote – varying schedule

Run by three prominent disability activists – Alice Wong, Andrew Pulgrang, and Gregg Beratan – CriptheVote is a space to talk about disability and politics. While their schedule is varied, the tag is always engaged with people sharing everything from fighting the dismantling of the ACA to interviews with politicians.

Many others are out there

I highly suggest finding organizations centered around illnesses you may have and following them. Many have chats at least once a month.

If you’re looking for others, I suggest checking out Yuri’s calendar. Note that times are listed in Pacific Time. Symplur also keeps a list of Twitter chats registered on their site.

Hope that helps a bit with Twitter basics – happy tweeting!

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