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When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong: Jayson Greene vs. A Whole Lot of Writers on Twitter

By Brian Richards | Social Media | March 10, 2023 |

By Brian Richards | Social Media | March 10, 2023 |


There’s a reason why Rick Ross blew up in the rap game and became famous, and that reason is his debut song, “Hustlin’.”

If you were alive back in 2006 when this song first dropped, it was almost impossible to get away from. It’s understandable why that is. The beat is as tight as you’d expect from Southern hip-hop, and the chorus is not just ridiculously catchy, but it’s also relatable. It’s comprised of Rick Ross repeatedly saying “Every day I’m hustlin’.” Because getting up, going to work, and hustling every day whether you’ll full-time or part-time is something we can all relate to, no matter what we do for a living in order to bring home a paycheck. Even Katt Williams pointed out how ingenious this track is, and how just listening to it while you’re on the clock will make you work even harder and better at your job. We also know what it feels like to not just hustle when you’re at work, but to hustle when we’re trying to find work. To find a job that satisfies you both financially and emotionally, a job that doesn’t require a commute that’s longer than Avatar: The Way of Water, and a job where you’ll have a boss and co-workers who won’t ruin it all with their racism, sexism, homophobia, and their inability to mind their own business.

For artists of all kinds, whether it’s comedians, photographers, or writers with an interest in journalism, fiction novels, screenplays for movies and television, or comic books, any opportunity you can get your hands on that will allow you to create for a living and get paid for doing so is a damn good one, and one that artists are always hoping to get. And one of the places where opportunity often knocks for many of these creatives is on Twitter.

Earlier this week, Pitchfork contributing editor Jayson Greene posted this tweet:

One of his writers at Pitchfork, Mehan Jayasuriya, responded to what Jayson tweeted, resulting in this brief exchange:

Before I used to write for this website that provides scathing reviews for bitchy people, I was a regular-degular commenter in the Comments section, and had been reading Pajiba ever since I first read a very negative review of The Devil Wears Prada. Dustin and I followed each other on Twitter, and he seemed rather fond of my tweets, which were and still are mostly comprised of profanity, sarcasm, commentary on news stories, and live-tweeting lots of television shows with the rest of Twitter. It was those tweets, combined with me commenting on his recap of the pilot for Preacher and pointing out that Lucas Neff and Elizabeth Perkins were in the actual episode listening to Jesse Custer’s sermon, that seemingly convinced him to offer me a job writing for Pajiba. And I’ve been grateful for that opportunity ever since. Granted, I regularly make Dustin regret offering me that job in the first place, but if it wasn’t for Twitter making it possible to grab his attention and convince him to take a chance on me, then it would be someone else writing articles for Pajiba, while also teasing Dustin mercilessly about his mysterious obsession with Lassie. (Seriously, I don’t get it.)

It didn’t take long for Jayson’s tweet to get attention and spread like wildfire to the rest of Twitter. When that happened? People were practically lining up to tell Jayson that he didn’t know what the f-ck he was talking about, and that Twitter has been a godsend to so many writers looking to get their feet in doors that have been closed and locked in their faces for so very long.

Here are just a few of the responses to Jayson’s original tweet:

“Black writer Twitter will tell you otherwise. The way we’ve been able to get assignments, network, find community, share resources and contacts, find editors, find sources for stories, get pitches in our DMs for our tweets, find reps, introduce our work to the world, etc. It must be nice to not need this app for upward mobility. lol”

- Kellee Terrell (@kellent), writer of articles for the New York Times, Elle,, The Huffington Post, and co-wrote the screenplay for Run Sweetheart Run

“I’d say a good 70% of my writing for publications has come from tweeting something an editor wanted me to expand on. This often then led to regular writing gigs with them. I don’t understand the investment some have in convincing everyone that Twitter has no real world power. I looked through some of the QTs and it’s pretty clear that for a lot of us, Twitter gave us access we wouldn’t have otherwise had. Usually because we’re from groups that aren’t as represented but also because of diverse views that often aren’t appreciated. It helped us be heard.”

- Elad Nehorai (@EladNehorai), writer of articles for The Daily Beast, The Huffington Post, The Forward, The Guardian, and The Times of Israel

“I’ve gotten several jobs and assignments as a writer/editor because of Twitter. Everybody’s experience is different. I would never discourage people from using every avenue possible to build their career.”

- Britni Danielle (@BritniDWrites), writer of articles for Essence, Glamour, The Washington Post, The Guardian,, and is now the senior culture editor for ESPN’s sports and pop culture website, Andscape.

“Counterpoint—Twitter has been a boon to so many writers of color, which is why I hate to see what it has become. Also, Twitter was very good at exposing mediocre creators who had been coasting on privilege by giving them enough rope to hang themselves. Twitter taught us that knowledge is not always found in one’s credentials or title. What IS important to note about Twitter is that unlike YouTube and Instagram, there is no money to be made from Twitter. You can get jobs from being ON Twitter, but Twitter isn’t the actual job.”

- Cheryl Lynn Eaton (@CherylLynnEaton), writer of articles for The Root, Comics Alliance, Publishers Weekly, and writer of the comic books Marvel Voices: Black Panther, Batman: Secret Files #1, and Bitch Planet: Triple Feature #1.

“I got my first assignment for the New Yorker from a tweet ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”

- Helen Rosner (@hels), writer/editor, food correspondent for The New Yorker

“I paid for my kid’s summer camp in the summer of 2021 because of a @seattletimes tweet looking for a @BacheloretteABC recapper and they hired me. Work can be everywhere.”

- Leslie Gray Streeter (@LeslieStreeter), columnist for The Baltimore Banner and author of Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books with Words Like “Journey” in the Title

“I mean sure, if you’re a middle-class white man with all the connections in the world the aforementioned attributes afford you, Twitter isn’t a place to get work or network. But, maybe, just maybe, it helps the careers of those who don’t look like you. DM for commissions ;)”

- Erin Delahunty (@Della79), freelance journalist for Siren Sport, Fox Netball, and The Guardian Australia Sports

“A kid from Edmonton, Alberta would’ve never been able to write for certain publications without Twitter. There’s a geographical obstacle that Twitter allows writers to overcome. 20 years ago, how many non-NY or -LA or -Toronto writers were getting bylines in big publications?”

— Renato Pagnani (@Rennavate), writer of articles for Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The Edmonton Journal, Maclean’s Magazine, Vice, and Spin

“Ah yes another man who believes his experience in journalism is this only way. As the child of UPS man and stay at mom turned teacher that didn’t go to j school, Twitter put me in spaces I didn’t physically have access to thus largely helping my career. I have not only made connections here that turned into working relationships, but I’ve got assignments in response to specific tweets. A literal music assignment after tweeting from the audience of a Lauryn Hill performance. If you’re wasting time here and can’t make it work for your career, just say that 🤗 I hate seeing these dudes with huge followings misguiding young writers bc they can’t see outside of their own experience.

— Rae Witte (@RaeWitte), writer of articles for Bustle, TechCrunch, The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Mashable, GQ; and is the features editor for the independent magazine ILY

“Before I had any real academic publications to speak of, people were quoting my tweets & citing my twitter feed at conferences. Now, it lets me connect to NGOs and journalists, etc. My career is not a sole byproduct of Twitter but using it well has absolutely helped my career.”

— Tara Van Ho, co-Director of the Essex Business & Human Rights Project, and senior lecturer for Essex Law School and the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre

“Twitter is a mess right now but it launched my whole career 🤷‍♀️”

— Carina Adly MacKenzie (@cadlymack), writer for television shows The Originals, The Flash, and creator/showrunner for Roswell: New Mexico

“you’ve obviously never been a trans woman before lol. the amount of editors who won’t give girls work (girls who’ve written entire books and won awards) until they’ve checked our twitters and combed our tweets 🙄”

— Joan Summers (@laracroftbarbie), co-host of the gossip podcast Eating for Free

“quite telling that a lot of the responses to this tweet are from women who, like me, had to rely entirely on social media for networking and freelance opportunities to build our careers because we were locked out of the more traditional systems that men have greater access to 💁‍♀️”

— Samantha Lewis (@battledinosaur), writer of articles about Australian football for ABC Sports; has also written for The Guardian, ESPN, and Optus Sport

“I wrote for THR, Teen Vogue, and Vulture because I shared my work in this space. My first job was off a Twitter post from a publication seeking new writers.”

— Joelle Monique (@JoelleMonique), writer of articles for Playboy, Teen Vogue, The A.V. Club, The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap, and last but not least, Pajiba

“I’ve gotten a ton of jobs through twitter & met some of my closest friends here. maybe your tweets just suck, jayson!”

— Dr. Olivia Snow Ph.D (@MistressSnowPhD), writer, professor, dominatrix, Tech Impact Network Research Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles’s Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2)

“Interesting. As a Black writer who didn’t go to J-school, wasting time here has helped my career immensely lol. I’ve gotten tons of work from tweets, and that work was so good, I got even more work. Twitter isn’t a replacement for doing the work, but it can get you places. It’s been a place where a tweet sparks a commission from an editor so I can dive deeper, it’s been a place where I’ve been able to learn from others, and I’ve been able to build incredible community here.”

— Bee Quammie (@beequammie), writer of articles for The Globe & Mail, Maclean’s Magazine, Chatelaine, Flare, and the soon-to-be-released non-fiction book The Book of Possibilities: Words of Wisdom on the Road to Becoming

“My interview with the splendid @emmahollyjones, director of Mr. Malcolm’s List, is bc of Twitter: she saw my review, we struck up a conversation, and then we were chatting about how The Sound of Music inspired the film. So…let’s not discount social media?”

— Brandon Lewis, writer of articles for Geek Vibes Nation, and the pop culture blog When Things Go Pop

“My most consistent freelance gig is from someone who found me on Twitter. Sometimes they’ll see me tweeting about things and ask if I want to write about it.”

— Ashley K. Smalls (@AshleyKSmalls), former social media manager for the New York Daily News, former Assistant Social Media Editor for the Daily Mail, writer of articles for Okayplayer, and for her personal blog, The Brooklyn Blerd

“Sorry you’re terrible at twitter dude but I have gotten a SHIT TON of work because an editor found a tweet of mine interesting and wanted me to expand on it in a story. Also why are you being such a dick about it? Sounds like you’re jealous. Like, this is a person who deeply does not understand how to use this platform and that’s really embarrassing for him given that it is TEEMING with journalists and editors desperate to find stories and talented writers to produce them. He’s over here harassing one of his own writers while admitting he used Twitter to find her!! LMAO are you even listening to yourself?? Sorry you’re so bad at building your own brand and doing the freelance hustle maybe don’t project that on everyone.”

— Erin Biba (@erinbiba), writer of articles for Wired, Gizmodo, National Geographic, The Daily Beast, and Scientific American

Like I said, those were only just a few of the responses to what Jayson tweeted, and they were not shy in letting him know that Twitter did wonders for both their careers and their personal lives.

This will most like come as a surprise to most white men who write for a living, but writers who are not white and male are rarely presented with the same opportunities for them and their work to be noticed and published. Even when they do find work, there’s no guarantee that they won’t continue to be overlooked and mistreated by their employers, and treated as if their contributions don’t matter nearly as much as their white colleagues, who are often coddled and praised by nearly everyone around them, before they grab the brass ring and are offered six-figure book deals that make them the talk of the town. Thanks to Twitter, it has reminded both writers, and the people looking to hire them, that it’s not a requirement or a necessity for writers to live in New York or Los Angeles so that they gain access and attention for their work. They may be two of the greatest cities in the world, but they’re certainly not the only places where quality can be found.

Even writer-producer Shonda Rhimes realize how powerful and effective Twitter can be for a writer who wants a bigger audience, or any audience, for their work. While giving a commencement address at Dartmouth in 2014, she stated to the graduates that they shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that activism on Twitter using hashtags carries any weight or gets anything truly accomplished. “A hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag doesn’t change anything,” While there is some truth in that Twitter is not the end-all, be-all when it comes to achieving social justice and improving the world around us, let us also remember that the ABC series Scandal, which Rhimes created, gained much of its popularity through fans of the show using hashtags on Twitter and talking about it with each other by live-tweeting each episode every Thursday night. Those weekly live-tweets during the first two seasons helped make Scandal appointment television, and went on to help make Shonda Rhimes an even bigger brand name than before.

Twitter is no substitute for doing the work as a writer, and making sure that the words and ideas being put on the blank page are always something worth reading. And it would also be foolish to think that job offers and lucrative contracts will simply fall in one’s lap because your tweets are occasionally funny and get lots of retweets and quote-retweets. But the app also does wonders in helping writers and other artists form communities with one another, where they support and promote each other’s work so that magazine editors, showrunners, and literary agents are reminded that there are plenty of talented people who deserve to hear opportunity knocking on their doors.

When pointing out the difference between how hard Black people and white people have to work in order to achieve success, Chris Rock (who is best known for his performance in the film Pootie Tang, and for absolutely nothing else) once said that the Black man has got to fly so he can get to where the white man can just walk to. Jayson Green’s unfortunate tweet that turned him into the Main Character on Twitter is an example of that, and also a reminder of two things that white people in all industries need to remember:

1) Just because you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and easily walk to the finish line to go get your dream job without having to jump over any hurdles? It doesn’t mean that everyone else can do the same. Especially when you have the complexion for the protection, and everyone else doesn’t. So quit telling yourself otherwise.

2) Twitter has literally been a lifeline for the people who use it, and who know how to best use it to their advantage and their satisfaction. They’ve used it to connect with others for friendship, for love, for someone to make them laugh, for someone to listen and be there when depression is lying to them again and telling them horrible things that should never be believed. And they’ve used it to connect with others who end up becoming their bosses and their colleagues. You may be someone who is lucky enough to not view or need Twitter as a valuable resource for your work and your life, but there are others who are not. I’ve seen so many examples of kind, brilliant, and talented people who were able to use Twitter as the steppingstone they needed so that they too could grab the brass ring, and it is a beautiful thing to witness.

The fact that it’s slowly being torn apart piece by piece, and made significantly worse by someone who thinks he’s a genius when he’s just a child who would rather break his toys than share them with others who want to play with them and appreciate what they have? A lot less beautiful to witness.

This has been another episode of “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.”