Why did you first join Twitter?

I joined in about 2013. I use it mainly for sending links to things that matter, and I interact a lot with people who disagree with me.

Do you think you come across differently online and offline?

No. I try to be the same on social media as I am in the real world.

How does your Twitter communication differ from other forms of communication?

On Twitter I have to be more brief. So I sometimes tweet a link to a more considered piece I have put on my blog.

There are a lot of lonely, disconnected people out there.

I’ve noticed that while you have many supporters on Twitter, you also have critics – some of whom we can assume are trolls. What’s your strategy for dealing with them? 

I answer the trolls.

I have noticed with hate mail (and I am guessing most trolls) that they want to be noticed as people. With hate mail at least, I always reply politely and I usually get a very polite response.

There are a lot of lonely, disconnected people out there.

Do you think by responding to them you’re changing their minds?

Yes. I think a polite response maximizes the chance of provoking a polite reaction.  But I am old-fashioned…


How has Twitter changed how you do the work you do?

It hasn’t really made a difference, but it gives me a slightly louder voice.

Twitter gives people a chance to scream anonymously.

I wonder sometimes whether Twitter breeds negativity or hostility. Or perhaps it is just a mirror to society…

It gives people a chance to scream anonymously. Anonymity gives people the chance to behave badly without fear of consequences.

How can we all better use online platforms such as Twitter to make a difference to the world?

Don’t give up.


Photo of Julian Burnside (left) taken by Barry Jones (pictured right). This was also the photo used in Ai Weiwei’s Letgo Room installation at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2016.


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