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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!

4 thoughts on “Twittzkrieg

  1. Thank you. I also really despise the “call out culture” (though I’d never heard the phrase, it fits perfectly, so thank you) because it just seems like bullying. It’s an excuse for people to act “holier than thou” and be nasty under the guise of being “a better person” – it’s worse than outright bullying, because the bullies truly believe they are in the right and that excuses everything. This is the main reason I stay far away from most activism in person and online these days – I’m scared of the call out bullies who make their way in the world trampling other people who might have made a mistake, or been misled, or, god forbid, not have spent the past 5 years reading up on every intimate detail of a subject before talking about it.

  2. Hey E, thanks for the comment! :)

    I’d never heard that phrase either until that article appeared in my Twitter TL, but I think it fits perfectly. Especially the request to “Call-In” people instead.

    Because I’m quite big, I think people assume that bullying doesn’t and hasn’t ever effected me. I can hold my own, but the whole thing churns me up inside. I’d never sleep again if I thought I’d been party to doing that to someone.

  3. You should read Jon Ronson’s new book, all about the internet shaming/bullying phenomenon that is becoming so common on facebook and twitter. A very good read.

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