‘Menswear Guy’ marks a change in Twitter’s main characters

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“I don’t want to bother people,” says Derek Guy, the California-based menswear writer behind the @dieworkwear Twitter account that has become an inescapable presence for a large number of Twitter users in recent weeks.Too bad for them. “I don’t make decisions to go into people’s timelines,” Guy adds. “How the Algorithm Works.”

Guy’s unexpected ubiquity on Twitter has proven to be a double-edged sword. She’s gotten a lot of positive responses from people who think she’s taught them how to dress better, thanks to the opportunity for her advice on their timelines, but she’s also gotten a lot of hate. The focus has shifted to the way he uses Twitter. “My timeline right now, I can’t keep up with it,” he says. “I haven’t read all the comments, but a lot of the ones I’ve read are hostile.”

Cope says such a dramatic shift in how people gain online fame and notoriety requires a shift in how we think about the effects of social media. “A lot of people have commented on the problems with the algorithms of sites that promote hate speech and conspiracy theories and content that is harmful to people’s mental health,” he says. “But the flip side of this that’s less talked about is that people can amplify their thoughts to an audience they didn’t expect. Sometimes, that can help bring some awareness to something that’s needed, or give someone the break they’re looking for.

It’s not an uncommon experience on social media to suddenly be exposed to millions of viewers, most of them strangers, when you previously posted to a few friends. TikTok, for example, is praised for its algorithm’s ability to pluck unknowns from the ether and turn them into stars overnight. And children Become a YouTuber than astronauts. But it has to be chosen. Twitter users like Guy didn’t ask for it—they weren’t always sure they wanted it. Unlike those who previously captured Twitter’s collective attention, these users don’t need to do anything to attract the scrutiny that comes with it. “Most people, when they become the main character on Twitter, it’s almost universally negative,” says Guy.

In recognition of this, Twitter users should be a bit more conscientious when tweeting. There are already signs of that happening. Some users, when confronted with Guy’s unsolicited tweets on their timelines, chose to attack him or mock his followers and target him. Others did not despair, but deliberately avoided marking him. Search for “menswear guy” shows. But a third group chose a different path: instead of screaming about the intrusion, they moderated their approach. Guy’s account has been quietly blocked or disabled by a militia.

It’s a better, more caring way to handle the challenge, says Cope. “For many people, suddenly being exposed to a large and unnecessary audience on a site like Twitter or TikTok can be a disorienting and painful experience.” This calm approach does not add to that confusion.

He adds that there will be a shift away from better platforms. “They should be very careful about who they recommend—especially if it leads to them being abused.” If companies don’t, Cobbe has a solution: “We need to use legislation, regulation and other means to make them.”


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