What do you want to get out of twitter?
Do you want to self-promote? Do you want others to congratulate you when things are good and commiserate when things are tough?
Do you want to be intellectually stimulated and challenged? Do you want to debate and pull apart your ideas? Do you want to be forced to defend your stance so you question things more closely?
If you want to do the former, the strategies suggested by Sue Cowley and Teacher Toolkit make perfect sense. Mute, block, ignore. (Everyone does this a little: you tire of engaging with a certain line of debate or individual and stop responding.)
But I believe you are missing out on a massively beneficial side of twitter if you do so as a general policy. You’re missing out on the chance to develop your thinking.
What I’d like to challenge, though, is the perception that people who engage in robust and forthright debate care less. They (we?) are often painted as uncaring and emotionless. That’s simply not true.
You do not have a monopoly on emotion simply because you choose to ignore or react badly to forthright discussion.
I have emotional responses to tone that feels off. I have my fair share of mental health issues. I have received tweets where my instinctual reaction was one of anger, or sadness, or frustration.
But I know that’s just an emotion. I can control my reaction to it. I can control my thoughts stemming from it. I can certainly control the actions I take – including what tweet I send in response.
I think it’s a real shame if your choice of action is to block, or to respond emotionally rather than engaging in the substance of the argument. I think it’s a shame if your choice of thoughts is the least charitable interpretation (“that person doesn’t care about children” rather than “I wonder what’s led them to think that”). I think you’re likely to learn less and grow less.
But. As I said. Your choice.