Monday, 27 August 2018
When I first signed up to your platform in 2009 I found it odd that people mostly appeared to spend their time tweeting pictures of what they were about to eat or drink. It wasn’t for me and I abandoned it fairly quickly. Two years later I returned, under a pseudonym and found it more engaging and even challenging, as people were not afraid to say what they thought: of others, of the world in general and in particular of the political class. It became my social media outlet of choice and I regularly entered the cut and thrust of debate.
I used it as a first resort for news and became part of a community of like-minded and fair-minded people who shared what are now seen as extreme views. Views such as the belief that it is up to each individual to strive to make their own lives more fulfilling; that a liberal approach to society, tolerating difference is preferable to sowing division; that many who would describe themselves as left-leaning are often bigoted and intolerant and can’t even see how fascistic they are.
While most people in the wider world are politically apathetic, confused and, despite their voting record, largely non-aligned with any real ideology, the ‘politicians’ on social media are often heavily invested, deeply entrenched and sometimes exhibit signs of deep psychosis, being unwilling or unable to alter their impaired vision of reality. A regular pattern emerged and one with which many of us became familiar:
An interloper joins a conversation to hurl abuse, often of the ‘evil-Tory-Thatcher-monster-you-hate-poor-people-and-want-to-kill-the-sick-I-hope-you-get-cancer’ variety. Original participants ignore or engage, but usually shrug off the tirade. Interloper gets angrier and more abusive. Interloper blocks, then tells all their friends to follow suit. Hey, I have no problem being blocked; if anything it is the ideal solution for your hair-trigger offence-seeker if they never have to read a world view they reject.
And thus Twitter policed itself, only intervening when things got seriously out of hand and people’s lives were genuinely threatened with disruption. Most of us with forthright views occasionally got a slap on the wrist, which we accepted, apologised for, then took down the offending posts, promised to be nicer and were reinstated, a little chastened but free to twitter on. But things didn’t stay that way for long...
Twitter began its own crusade; no longer content to provide a forum it began to police it in ways that seemed almost sinister. The angry types soon realised that Twitter was quick to sanction, so began dog-piling into accounts they hated. I suffered several week-long bans based not always on my original words, but often just for retweeting ‘unfashionable’ opinions. I observed – as many have – that calling for violence towards certain public figures, hurling extreme abuse at individuals, harrying personal accounts, calling down mobs and generally behaving like animals was often tolerated, while those who were the subject of the attacks were removed.
Indeed, Twitter even took it upon itself to remove people simply because they didn’t somehow accord with what Twitter regarded as ‘acceptable’ free speech. I honestly can’t see what is extreme about Milo Yiannopoulos – he’s even in one of the approved ‘victim’ groups – but there he was, gone. Yet people who openly preach the ending of the white race, who support the murders and land grabs in South Africa, who praise despotic, brutal regimes and regularly preach hatred and hurl abuse remain visible and free to spread their poison.
And of course the biggest poison of all, the extreme elements of a sect which practises horrific abuse, subjugation and terror, continues to enjoy freedom of expression but woe betide those who speak against it. The religion of peas rightly comes in for a fair amount of opprobrium and why not – any ideology that wishes my kind to be wiped from the earth or enslaved in the service of a non-existent being is not all right with me or any other right-thinking person.
But hey, none of that matters any more because you have removed my account and prevented me from even logging on to find out why. For what it’s worth, I believe the imprecation “shoot the buggers” whenever the police/armed forces/border control find themselves under genuine threat in an impossible situation is not incitement to violence, rather an expression of exasperation which used to be commonplace a few decades ago and is still in currency among many ‘civilians’ out in the world which exists beyond the internet.
We were warned...
But I figure it’s your loss, Twitter, and that you are destined to become just another echo-chamber where self-identifying victims can howl and stamp their tiny feet. The control of the message always ends up being in the hands of the idiots simply because they outnumber the rest of us. The comparison has been made before, but the best known works of a certain Eric Arthur Blair are, to many people, prophetic. Your motto should be: All Tweeters are equal, but some Tweeters are more equal than others.