If you are not on the micro-blogging social media site twitter, please excuse this indulgence.
I read two interesting twitter-related blogposts today. The first by Brokenbottleboy about being blocked by a vaguely well-known tweeter, simply for sharing someone else’s post about her.
The second was by Mr Neurosceptic who got bombarded by irate John Barrowman fans after he’d joked about his TV show.
As you know I get ‘blocked’ on twitter a lot, and called a ‘troll’ among other things. I keep a record of my blockers on my 101 Wankers post. I am up to about 50 already and that’s definitely not a comprehensive list.
Using some of the points from both Brokenbottleboy and Mr Neurosceptic’s posts I think twitter leads to this blockfest for the following reasons:
1) Twitter is a public forum that is VERY open to all. This just doesn’t suit people who want to promote their views over everyone else’s. The block button is merely a symbol of how people in real life filter out unwanted messages. Incidentally, on twitter if you block someone, that person can still see your tweets (unless you ‘protect’ them). This differs from facebook where blockers and blockees cannot see each other’s pages or posts at all. There, it really is as if the unwanted person is ‘deleted’ from your world altogether.
2) Twitter is dominated, in the UK at least, by ‘liberals’. The feminists, the gay activists, the ‘sex positive’ people, the Guardian readers (and writers) dominate the tone of the forum. To fall out with them is to commit a crime against ‘liberalism’ and ‘good’ and ‘common sense’ – so you must be a troll and therefore banished from polite society.
3) Most ‘celebrities’ and journalists have very fragile egos. The inevitable criticism that comes of being in a public forum is difficult for them to handle. This is also apparent on newspaper fora such as ‘comment is free’ on the Guardian. Some journalists are trying to make it so anonymous posters can’t comment at e.g. cif. Because this protects their own ‘reputation’ and delicate sense of self. Blocking is the nearest they can get to getting rid of all negative feedback altogether.
4) We live in a very anti-intellectual culture. ‘Nobody reads’ as I have said a few times now. The block button on twitter represents people’s inability to engage in intellectual argument, it’s a big fat ‘whatevah’ or a ‘talk to the hand’ that is used in real life discourse. I think it is all our problem. Even if we rarely use it ourselves.
Sometimes relationships online get as fraught as in life, and you have to walk away. The block button can be part of that ‘walking away’. As I said to a friend recently after being blocked by someone I know, for personal, not political reasons: I wish there was a special block button for people who mean a tiny bit more to you than just being political ‘enemies’. But there isn’t. It is a clumsy tool and a bit like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
I think we should be very wary of ‘blocking’ as it blocks out much more than individual undesirable people from our twitter feeds.
Oh, by the way, I’m @notorious_qrg on twitter. Follow me!