I like Twitter. I also find it problematic. That is, I find my behaviour tends to the problematic when I’m on Twitter.
I use different social media platforms for different things. Facebook is keeping up with friends and family and funny memes. WordPress is reading and writing. Pinterest is for killing time adding projects I’ll never do to boards I rarely look at. Instagram is mostly a non-event. But Twitter? That’s for politics.
I have an inclusive definition of politics. It includes politicians and the things they do but also subcategories like economics, societal violence, climate change, gun control, and equal rights.
I skew to the left on socio-economic and political matters. I believe we have potential as a species. I also believe we can do better.
I’m trying hard to be an objectively good person. I’m trying to remember that most things aren’t in my control and excessive cursing is a sign of a weak vocabulary.
Maintaining that on Twitter is challenging. The anonymity of the platform brings out the worst in many of us. I worry about the implications of that for the real world. What happens when we release these platform creations back into the wild?
We aren’t who we say we are. We aren’t who we wish we were. We are the things we do. I firmly believe that how we act as ones and zeroes ultimately influences who we are and how we interact with others in reality.
We live in a world of online connectivity. It’s possible not to play, but in the realm of politics, I believe abandoning the field is a mistake. I think we should hold leaders to account. I think we should advocate for changes for the better. I think we should stand up against injustice. I hope that there’s more to it than shrieking into the void.
But what does it say about me if I give in to the incredibly tempting urge to respond to the racism, intolerance, and bigotry by suggesting they do something anatomically impossible with a chainsaw? Am I now part of the problem?
It’s insidious. I start with good intentions. Maintaining them, however, is hard. I want to lower myself to the level of others. I want to question their loyalty, sexuality, ethics, and intelligence back. I want to demonstrate how creative I can get with the word “fuck”.
I have, at times, given in.
I’ve been unkind, nasty, pointed, sarcastic, and rude. I’ve cursed like a sailor. I’ve thrown up insulting memes. It’s all driven by frustration.
I’ve failed to remember the advice given by Marcus Aurelius:
“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so, none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands, and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”
Sometimes, rather than holding onto the thought that others are making ugly choices from ignorance rather than evil, rather than remembering my views might be simplistic or incorrect, I vent my spleen.
I invariably regret it. Sure, there’s satisfaction at the moment but it’s wiped out by shame before too long.
One option would be to quit Twitter. Unfortunately, for all that I struggle, I like it. Not the mudslinging. Not the clickbait. Not the global platforms for people who shouldn’t be given global platforms. That I could live without.
The hypocrisy of the company’s enforcement of rules and standards bothers me as well. They talk a good game about civility, rights, racism, hatred, and abuse. They’re lax on walking the walk. Especially if you’ve got a coveted blue checkmark, the sign of an “official” account. These people are apparently exempt from the rules. A quick scroll through verified accounts will confirm that.
All hail the kakistocracy.
Which excuses me not.
I need to check myself. Remember that it’s not about trying to prove someone wrong, incompetent, and horrible. It’s about trying to share beliefs, opinions, and facts in the best way possible while holding onto the kind of person I’m trying to be when I’m on the platform.
Although I may retain “fuck you Fridays”.
I’m a work in progress; I’m not there yet.
Are you “you” on social media? Do you worry about it?