A Tweet Is Still A Tweet

Posted: January 14, 2012 in Freedom of Speech, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

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!

  1. Jonathan says:

    so what happened with Mark Simpson then?

  2. Henry says:

    “Nobody reads’ as I have said a few times now”

    There’s a joke in there, isn’t there? “Nobody listens either”…no, that needs a bit of work.

    Any tool is only as useful as the use people make of it (same with science/religion/etc) and I suspect some people play rather silly social games on Twitter, games of exclusion and approval. So it’s not really much of a place for debate or civilized discussion. Though it seems to fast-track political/moral outrage.

    And yes I think Twitter is full of lefties agreeing with each other & linking to demented Guardian articles and saying “So true…”

    • Hi Henry – I wrote about ‘nobody reads’ a while back and I actually included the follow-on statement ‘nobody listens’ I think the two are connected.

      I might post it up here soon.

  3. well, myspace was big for awhile and then faded…

    this twitter thing will too….

    I like blogging as it gives me a way to collect my thoughts…..

    just a general observation, with mobile devices like cell phones and iPad’s it seems like people are accepting lower quality for more content and the ability to be online constantly….

    also with skype- the sound is usually lower quality than old school landlines…

    just think how people are happy with low quality youtube video and mp3 audio….

    I control how plugged in I am. When I am not at a computer, I don’t go online….

    I didn’t read very many print books back in the day, so ironically, online has made me more literate….

    oh, well, hopefully I wasn’t to free form and rambling….

  4. I think some people use twitter to collect their thoughts, too. I know I do. I used it as a notebook when I was writing my novella. It’s nice as it is social but also your own space and moves faster than a blog. I think twitter, or something like it, will be here for a while yet.

  5. redpesto says:

    QRG: 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.

    James Ball: ‘Social media has its own class divide’:

    To take one example, established journalists, young and old, can network more easily than ever before, and their combined follower count and willingness to share each other’s work can quickly drown out less established competition. More broadly, there are signs different classes of people – divided by age, income, or education – are shifting to different social networks

    LinkedIn is the social network of the elites. Of its users, 38% have a bachelor’s degree, and 44% say they earn more than £50,000 a year – though this is likely partly accounted for by a higher average age than other networks. This is substantially higher than Twitter, where 22% of users have a degree and 25% earn £50,000 or more. On Facebook, these numbers slip further still – 16% have a degree and 22% earn £50,000 or more. The user profiles of all three social networks suggest their denizens are younger, more educated, and earn more than the UK at large. Data is not collected for BBM – the network with the lowest cost of entry – due to its nature, but there are reasons to suppose its demographics would vary substantially.

    …which might explain the role of Blackberry Messenger in last August riots.

  6. redpesto says:

    James Ball:

    A BlackBerry pay-as-you-go phone can be bought for around £110 – versus £400 plus for an iPhone – and for just £5 a month gives unlimited free messages to other BBM users. It was authorities’ bad luck that the cheapest social network, and the one used by legions of disaffected youth, happened to be the hardest to trace, and the easiest to use to fuel unrest. [Emphasis added]

  7. I actually found Facebook worse than twitter. Partly because of the way it is designed it is easier to ‘delete’ and completely ‘block’ people from your own facebook world. So there is no accomodation of opposing views. It is all about hitting the ‘like’ button. I found it quite scary and depressing.

  8. leta says:

    in the future people will only ever communicate with people who agree with them.

  9. Jonathan says:

    Yes, I much prefer old-fashioned forum culture to “social networking”.

  10. Multiparticles says:

    What I don’t understand in your argument about people who block you or who don’t approve your comments is where you get the idea that you are owed their attention or their time. Why do you believe that people should listen to what you have to say and respond to it? Did you consider that maybe they are simply not interested and it is not that they do not want to debate but that they don’t want to engage with you?

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