Someone blocked me on Twitter today.
Let's have a conversation about free speech.
Twitter is a strange, yet wonderful place. It is aptly named, giving the impression of many birds singing all at the same time. According to the dictionary, twittering means ‘bird call of repeated light tremulous sounds’. In the Northern Hemisphere Spring is in full swing and the birds are up at the crack of dawn, twittering away, looking for mates. How selfish of them to wake me so early! No, I actually do quite like it. Interestingly enough, when applied to humans, the word twittering means: talking rapidly at length in a trivial way. Apt name for a social platform indeed.
I was blocked by someone on Twitter today because they weren’t open to having a conversation. I’m not worried about it, in fact I thought it was funny and a good reflection of how ridiculous the world has become. She/he who shouts the loudest gets heard, even if what they are spouting is garbage. At least birdsong has some beauty and grace to it.
I’ve made many friends on Twitter, some of whom I’ve met in real life. I’ve had many discussions there too, received and offered support, and I’ve even enjoyed partaking in Twitter hashtag parties.
Twitter becomes dangerous, however, when many people get together and tweet nasty hurtful comments to deliberately attack someone. This is happening more and more frequently these days. Many people on that platform are most definitely not open to having a conversation, they’re just there to cause trouble. Some people call these types of people, trolls. These people focus on taking other people down, whomever they may be, just for fun, just because they can.
Caroline Myss, in her work ‘The Courage to Confront Evil’ surmises that groups have more power than the individual, especially when it comes to evil. I agree with her. I hasten to add, in real life you can see when a gang of people are coming for you, and at least then you get an opportunity to run and hide, but online it’s a different story. Like-minded people gather together on Twitter. But you don’t need to find a group of like-minded people to create an online gang. All it takes is several false twitter profiles to amplify your tweeting power. If you and your gang can get a loud enough voice, it’s inevitable more people will show up and join you. Then you can do some real damage.
Twitter is where cancel culture began, as far as I’m aware. Forget about living in harmony and accepting each other’s differences, no, let’s attack the other and get them off the platform instead. It’s much easier to shut down the conversation than to make the effort to understand the other person and possibly have to admit to being wrong, or change your mind. This behaviour has been going on for years. Do let me know if I’m wrong, but I’ve been on Twitter a long time and it’s just my observation.
Whether cancel culture actually started on Twitter or not, what I do know for sure, is that the fear of being shut down or attacked on social media has stopped many good people from speaking out. I admit that it has stopped me, too, until relatively recently. (And obviously it didn’t stop me this morning!)
What about you? Do you feel shut down by the current social media landscape? I want to know - let’s talk about it in the comments. What I found personally was that if I couldn’t say anything on social media, or to friends and family, I didn’t even afford myself a space to think about whatever it was that was upsetting me. I shut myself down. Because what’s the point in having an opinion or wanting to learn more about something if you cannot have a discussion about it? This really is not a good thing.
So even more importantly I want to ask you -
Do you give yourself a space to think about the things you feel you cannot talk about?
Have you made time to discover what is important to you?
Do you offer yourself the opportunity to make up your mind on certain topics or issues, or do you find you shut yourself down?
Can you give yourself the benefit of the doubt? Or even give yourself the space to change your mind?
Please feel free to chat about it here. That’s the point isn’t it? To talk, to discuss, to learn from each other. If we can’t do that, then where is our hope for the future?