Internet etiquette is kind of weird, even at the best of times. What flies on Tumblr is a major faux pas on Twitter; what’s a compliment in English is a baffling insult in Japanese. So it’s no surprise that, once in a while, we’ll see someone step up and draw a line. Most recently, some entertainers on Japanese Twitter have asked that fans not jump in on threads between industry peers.
Voice actor Tomokazu Sugita raised the concern only yesterday, regarding a conversation between Seiren‘s Honoka Kuroki and Asobi Asobase‘s Ryoko Maekawa. Maekawa responded to Kuroki’s fear that her current outfit might make her underwear visible:
The banter between Maekawa and Kuroki seems entertaining enough. However, Sugita cut in, scolding fans who intrude on Twitter conversations between voice actors. There doesn’t seem to be anyone in the conversation save for Maekawa and Kuroki (whom Sugita confirmed wasn’t the subject of his rant), leaving fans to wonder who he was talking about. More than likely, the actual culprit beat a hasty retreat and deleted their tweet after the call-out from the Haruhi and Gintama star.
A similar sentiment apparently arose earlier this month, when Nakiri Ayame raised the same concern regarding VTubers and their fans. This time, the incident is much more easily traceable, with a fan jumping in on a conversation between her and fellow VTuber Kagura Nana. The interruption (which I will not be linking to, as this person’s replies are already very busy) basically amounts to “Stop! Stop! I’m crying!” in response to the pair’s online antics. The two VTubers immediately voiced their dislike for this, with Nakiri Ayame doing so in a stand-alone tweet.
Opinion seems divided over the pair’s request. Some argue that random intrusions are not only excusable, but also kind of the whole point of Twitter. Others (including the VTubers themselves) liken it to jumping in on a random conversation between strangers in the real world. While some followers expressed disappointment at the pair’s opinion, the majority seem to understand the request.
More to the point, though: is their request legit? It’s true that social media is social by definition, and that these people are chatting out in the open. Some fans have noted that if they want privacy, they should go to DMs — another fair point. However, it’s also true that we want the freedom to talk to our friends in public, and would feel pretty uncomfortable if someone we don’t know suddenly joined in.
Another counterpoint raised is that these accounts are there for the fans, so asking fans not to interact is defeating the purpose of an online presence. That is only somewhat true. Social media is not only a creator-to-fan platform, but also a creator-to-creator platform. Big names network, socialize, and promote each other constantly. It’s tempting to jump in and let two faves know at once just how cool you think they are. But what purpose would your presence in that conversation serve for anyone but you?
In short: yes, we’re all capable of jumping in on any conversation on Twitter at any time. Some might not even mind the intrusion. But unless someone specifically says so, it’s probably best to just read and enjoy.