To quote myself from yesterday, “140 characters is not always enough to convey a point properly, especially not across languages and cultures.”. Hence, I am finally publishing this post, which has been sitting in my drafts folder for quite some time, even though I realise the subject matter has the potential to ignite exactly the behaviour that is describes (I really, really do not want that).
People have a right to express an opinion, people have a right to disagree and it’s okay to debate them, even passionately. What is not okay to me and what I want no part of, is a pile in on someone with a different opinion. Agree to disagree and move on, don’t perform a mental DDoS on an individual in an attempt to overwhelm them into submission. To me this is just another form of bullying. I hate bullies.
This point is especially relevant with respect to the way in which people use social media. I am a pretty prolific tweeter (twitterer?). I now unapologetically distance myself from the hashtags and accounts that I see as condoning, promoting or engaging in what Asam Ahmad refers to as “Call-Out Culture“. It makes me uncomfortable to see good people who have been misunderstood, or may have taken a misstep, being besieged by an army of people who seem more preoccupied with being part of the mob rather than educating the person, or letting them apologise. I hate bullies.
Writing posts like this is hard, because there is so much more I could say. I realise this is a somewhat meandering post that lacks a definitive conclusion, but I would just be opening myself up to the sort of response that I am referencing if I was to offer one. So let that be the conclusion: I think it is wrong that people are afraid in this way.
After thought – I think this problem is exacerbated by at least a couple of factors online:
- The assumption that everyone is a fanboy, that we all exist on the extremes of opinion. You have an iPhone? You must hate Samsung and Google and Android and kittens and you must now personally accept responsibility for every decision that Apple have ever made.
- Prescribing people opinions and traits based on their gender, race, etc and then writing off their experiences and opinions as worthless as a result. You’re white, male and identify as a gamer? You must hate everyone and everything!