Posts Tagged ‘twitter’

I seem to have found myself on a break from twitter, again. We can argue later about whether or not logging in to send dms to friends, or to click on the occasional link, constitutes ‘cheating’. But officially, I’m not there.

I’m not temporarily unplugging though, and claiming some kind of ‘detox’ from the internet as a whole. I agree with Casey N Cep who wrote recently in the New Yorker:

‘Few who unplug really want to surrender their citizenship in the land of technology; they simply want to travel outside it on temporary visas. Those who truly leave the land of technology are rarely heard from again, partly because such a way of living is so incommensurable. The cloistered often surrender the ability to speak to those of us who rely so heavily on technology. I was mindful of this earlier this month when I reviewed a book about a community of Poor Claresin Rockford, Illinois. The nuns live largely without phones or the Internet; they rarely leave their monastery. Their oral histories are available only because a scholar spent six years interviewing them, organizing their testimonies so that outsiders might have access. The very terms of their leaving the plugged-in world mean that their lives and wisdom aren’t readily accessible to those of us outside their cloister. We cannot understand their presence, only their absence.’

I am not ‘absent’, technologically speaking, then, even if that sometimes seems an attractive prospect, and even if I don’t tweet for a while. I am still reachable via the usual means. I still need the internet to go about my daily business, such as it is.

This piece by Adrianne LaFrance is an interesting commentary on where twitter is at, in 2014, 5 years after it came into being. I don’t agree with everything she says. But I have my own reasons for finding twitter now a lot less fun than it seemed back in 2010 when I joined. One of the problems is that I do not feel free to speak my mind on twitter anymore. And I’m not really prepared to try and produce a sanitised, easy to swallow version of QRG.

Sometimes the ‘breaks’ in relationships expand and merge and turn into permanent splits. Maybe that will happen with me and twitter, maybe it won’t. But for now, I’m seeing other people. We’re on a break!!



This week has been a worrying one for twitterphiles like me.  The social media site was blocked by the Government in Turkey, in a seemingly blatant attack on Turkish people’s rights to freedom of expression.  Today a court proposed that the ban should be lifted. As they wait for confirmation that it will be, Turks are using creative means to get round the ban, such as installing   Tor browsers and tweeting via sms on mobile phones.  Whilst representatives from twitter the company did speak out against the ban by Turkey’s authorities, they are not quite perfect ambassadors for freedom of speech. In 2012 put their new policy into practice, allowing them to block tweets in particular countries, when they censored output in Germany from neo-Nazis. I’m not a fan of racism in any form, but a social media company making political decisions to restrict access to content concerns me. This seems particularly ironic when we remind ourselves how heavily the actual Nazis relied on censorship  and repression of certain points of view in their regime.

There have also been observations by twitterers that sometimes suspension of individual users can be the result of pressure from groups who dislike them, rather than for any violations of’s terms and conditions. I am surprised I’ve never been suspended myself, actually, considering the various political and personal cliques who don’t like the cut of my jib on twitter! (I hope I’m not giving anyone ideas *stern look*). But whatever its faults, I am inclined to agree with Paul Bernal, an  academic who studies privacy, media law and Intellectual Property, that twitter provides great opportunities for freedom of speech:


I also agree with Dan Hannan, MEP, that whether it is at state or individual level, the calls for banning, censoring and punishing people are always made in relation to other people. A  ‘troll‘  is always someone else isn’t it?. But the kind of rhetoric that demands ‘tougher penalties’ for ‘cyber bullies’ and the values it espouses could have a negative, restrictive effect on us all.


I have considered leaving twitter a few times in the last couple of years. But there are too many reasons to stay. Apart from the excellent friends I have made, and apart from my ‘professional’ reasons (for that read: ego) for using twitter, illustrated by recent praise for my novella  and for my critique of feminism, Leaving The Sisterhood, I think it’s too important to abandon. I know that I am no different from the majority of twitter users, in that my ‘output’ is often frivolous, or boring, but its my self-expression. My chance to contribute to discussions and debates, to see the events of the world unfold in real time, to learn and expand my horizons.

A lot nearer to me than Turkey, we also learned this week that restrictions have been put on prisoners receiving books and other gifts. Their freedom of expression and freedom to learn is not just curtailed by their incarceration, but now by further, draconian regulations. Even in the comfort of my own home, it is all too clear to me, that my right to talk shit on the internet is not something to take for granted. And it’s certainly not something to give up. They’ll have to drag me kicking and screaming away from that little blue bird, I’m afraid.



Hashtags are used for all sorts of things on twitter. From the tweetalong telly tags such as #splash, #bbcqt  and #masterchef, to marking cultural phenomena  such as #metrosexual, to the personal esoteric ones like my #blueonblue and #FoucaultsDaughter. But it is in gender politics – where else? – where a hashtag war has broken out.

Funnily enough, this particular game of tag began with the twitter classic #bbcqt. The historian (and tweeter) Mary  Beard appeared on the programme last month. That night and the next day she got a lot of shit on twitter from what are known in the business as ‘haterz’. From what I can see, and from my own modest status as @Notorious_QRG, I think once you have a certain number of followers on twitter, you start to get some random crap thrown at you. But Ms Beard is also a feminist, and what do feminists tend to do when they get stick? That’s right, she wrote an article about the ‘misogyny’ and ‘abuse’ she was suffering, in the Guardian.

This brave stand against her ‘abusers’ by the lowly professor and TV personality led to an expression of sisterly solidarity: the #silentnomore hashtag. Feminist women began to break their silence and tell twitter about all the misogyny and abuse they too suffer. I made some criticisms of this hashtag, and was told by one feminist to get out of their ‘space’ and stop ‘abusing’ them!

Then another hashtag popped up called #INeedMasculismBecause. Some men, including Mens Rights Activists used this hashtag to start discussing some inequalities men and boys face. But the feminists swooped down and started attacking the MRAs and men in general. Jezebel suddenly developed a hitherto non-existent sense of humour, and rubbed its hands in glee, laughing at how the feminists had ‘hijacked’ the hashtag.  I couldn’t help but notice the hypocrisy of how feminists had claimed criticisms of the #silentnomore hash were ‘abusive’ and yet they were laughing in the aisles at their own take over of an opposing hashtag.

But it didn’t end there. Melissa McEwan another self-effacing, timid feminist blogger and tweeter, set up the rather obsequious tag #tellafeministThankYou. And guess what, some men and non-feminist women piled in with some ironic ‘thank yous’ to feminism for some of the wrongs it has committed against, oh, sex workers, boys, men, non-feminists, etc. And of course McEwan and her friends cried ‘abuse’ again, conveniently forgetting the Lulz value of hijacking hashtags pointed out by Jezebel only days before.

One of my comments on the #INeedMasculismbecause tag was that I needed ‘masculism’ or whatever you want to call what challenges feminism, because feminists dominate discussions of gender. I want to hear some other voices in the mix. But the whole affair has only proved my point. With feminists having the platform of the national press and high profile online publications to claim their ‘victimhood’, the views and perspectives of those of us who disagree with them get drowned out.

But I will be #silentnomore ! I think the feminists dealt with this hashtag war badly and cynically. I think they know they are the dominant force in gender politics, and any kind of democratic opening out of debate just makes them go into attack mode and try to ‘silence’ their critics.

#FeminismIsAwful !

I have not read Grace Dent’s book: How To Leave Twitter. This is because a) she is a mean-spirited, ego-driven writer and tweeter. And b) relatedly, because she hasn’t left twitter. I guess it could be an ironic title, just as How To Give Up Booze and Stop Swearing by Keith Floyd might be ironic, or How To Live A Long and Happy Life by Princess Diana might be ironic. No. I expect Ms Dent’s book is just crap.

But I want to leave my lover of two and a half years. And I want to leave now.

So I am going to have to rely on other sources for advice.

According to Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey of cyborgology, social media is so embedded in our lives now, that even when we log off, leave social networks, even when we die, we are still connected to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc.

So I know that leaving Twitter is actually quite difficult. Do I delete my account and lose all my followers and connections in one fell swoop? Do I survive without a change of heart the 30 days that I am allowed to reinstate my profile?  Do I regret my decision and set up a new profile, a new twitter identity once the 30 days is up? Do I stay, even though I am not enjoying the twitter experience now, just to spite the people who wish I would go and jump in a lake? Do I jump in the lake?

I don’t know but I am going to make a decision in the next couple of days. If something that used to be fun isn’t fun anymore, I usually take the  approach that it is time to move on.

There must be 50 ways to leave twitter?


UPDATE: I have decided to not delete my account, but to just not use it for the time being. I hope this works for me and twitter!

This morning it was announced that Paul Chambers who had been convicted of making a ‘menacing’ tweet under the 2003 Communications Act, has had his conviction quashed. He was found innocent of all charges by three Appeal Court judges.

To most people reading this the news is not only brilliant for Paul, his partner Sarah (@crazycolours) and their families. It is also a victory for freedom of speech and expression, especially online. So it is with extra joy that the news was first reported and now is being celebrated on our favourite social media platform.

Without detracting to much from Paul’s big day and the wonderful feeling of relief and sense that justice has been done – at last (his case went on for over two years), I want to ask a question.

Does everyone who is celebrating today support freedom of speech – FOR EVERYONE?

One of the things I have done in recent years is heartily piss off some academics. By criticising their work and their political positions in the area of sex and gender. Of those academics, three have tweeted support of Paul Chambers and his great verdict today. But I want to know if they actually believe that people – including me – have the right to express our views freely, on twitter, on blogs, by email, in ‘RL’.

So I ask Petra Boynton whose writing on sex research I have critiqued recently, and who I hear is not very happy with me and my ‘behaviour’, if she supports freedom of speech for all?

I ask Mark Mccormack who had my (critical) review of his first book on ‘declining homophobia’ taken off a sociology website a few months ago, if he supports freedom of speech for all?

And I ask Chris Ashford, a gay academic who on twitter told his academic colleagues taking part in a conference using a #hashtag that ‘This Is A Troll’, this meaning me, and who thinks I should be ‘ignored’ on twitter,  if he supports freedom of speech for all?

The following academic has not tweeted support of Paul Chambers today but I want to ask him too:

Finally I ask Ian Rivers another gay academic and an expert in ‘bullying’, particularly ‘homophobic’ bullying, who is a senior colleague of Mark Mccormack and who did not challenge him taking down my review of his book from the internet, and who also seems to be disapproving of me and what I say online, if he supports freedom of speech for all?

I think my questions may be answered soon and I will be sure to report the answers on twitter, if I am allowed to that is.

This week there was an academic event at Sunderland University, that included discussions about the role of social media in academia and teaching. That is a subject I am very interested in. So I took part on twitter in the discussions relating to it, on the Sunderland Uni hashtag #uoslec2012

One of the points I made, was the importance in this field of the work of American academics and ‘social media theorists’ Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey. Their blog, Cyborgology is one of the most inspiring things I have read and engaged with recently. You can read more here:

However one of the academics, and one of Pink News’ ‘top 50 LGBT influential tweeters’ of 2011, Chris Ashford, did not welcome my contributions to the hashtag or the discussions. To his 4,000 followers on twitter, many of whom are academics he tweeted:

‘I would ask anyone getting messages from @Notorious_QRG to ignore them. This is a troll. #onedownsideoftwitter’

I was upset and angered by his comment. Partly because he and I used to be on friendly terms, and he used to (I thought) value my contributions to discussions on his blog and on twitter. And partly because he was obviously deliberately attempting to ‘silence’ me and stop me from being listened to by his academic colleagues and friends.

Calling someone a ‘troll’ is more than just commenting on their behaviour, it is a way of dehumanising someone. Of putting their humanity and decency into question. Of shaming them.

I really thought Chris would know better, as a ‘queer theorist’ and supporter of ‘minority’ groups against bullying and discrimination, than to try to make a fool of someone and to turn them into a pariah, an outcast. A troll.

He is not alone in his method of shutting me up. A method that as yet, is unsuccessful, but still very distressing. Later in the week Martin Robbins a science writer and ‘skeptic’ told me that the reason I get banned from feminist blogs is because of my ‘scarily aggressive  behaviour’ on said blogs. When I asked him, a great believer in ‘evidence based’ statements to provide evidence of my aggression he did not respond, except by blocking me.

I think one of the problems people online have with me, is that I don’t behave how a ‘troll’ is supposed to. And when I am cast in this role I challenge it. And I challenge their reasons for using the term to describe me, and to put me down and to try and make me go away.

I’m not going away.

And I am not accepting this kind of stereotyping either.


a troll.


This week I am hosting the @londonisyours twitter account. Inspired by the success of  the @sweden twitter project, a different Londoner can tweet about London and their life for 7 days. I am in the middle of my week on the job, and I am thoroughly enjoying it.

London is a big, overwhelming city, especially to someone like me who is not born and bred here. So in order to make the subject more manageable, I chose some themes that I am very familiar with. I have been asking people to nominate their favourite #londonbookshops , to tell me examples of writing about London #londonwriting , and to share some of the best #londongigs they have been to in the capital.

On Monday night I went to see Saint Etienne at the Palladium, a great London venue and a wonderful classic pop band.

If you’re on twitter, do follow the @londonisyours tweets, not just while I am doing them!

And, if you live in London and would like a turn hosting the account, check out the London Is Yours Blog for information about how to apply.

I don’t know how long I am going to be living here in this metropolis. It is definitely growing on me. And I am glad, that even if one day I do up sticks and ‘leave the capitol’, I have participated in a positive project celebrating the people and attractions of the city.

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!