I try to avoid using Twitter but I have two problems. The first is that I like it as a source of news. The second is that I like to keep in touch with people I perhaps naively think I know and like.
The fault with the platform – and perhaps all social media platforms – is one of tone. I’m happy to engage with people if they read my work or look at my cartoons. What I really don’t like is the micro-aggression, the people who arrive at my content with a snarl and ready to spit bile over my shirt.
Let me explain this from the other side. When somebody writes something I don’t agree with, my habitual response is to begin with a point I agree with. Sometimes it’s simply to acknowledge that there’s an alternative point of view that somebody happens to hold (“I see where you’re coming from and might agree except…”). The point is, I begin with a point of agreement because I don’t want to come across as one of those hugely opinionated arseholes who won’t listen to a different point of view. That doesn’t mean I’m not a hugely opinionated arsehole who won’t listen to a different point of view but I try to hide that from the world because the last thing I want is for another person to feel that griping sensation in the pit of their stomach because they’re about to enter into a Twitter fight.
And I do mean a griping sensation. I feel it every time.
I guess if you read this blog regularly you will have a fairly good sense of who I am by now. I’m prone to over-sensitivity and get hurt very easily. I’m fairly serious in my convictions but open minded and try to understand the world as far as my limited abilities will take me. I can be too arrogant at times but also my tendency to humility can stray into self-loathing. Yet a lack of confidence is the real mind killer. I can go from being outwardly engaged to inwardly dwelling far too quickly. I despise the knot I feel in my stomach.
I guess I don’t like conflict and I don’t like losing control of my temper because the moment I do that, I know I’ve lost.
Twitter, however, doesn’t seem to have many people like me or, rather, the strangers that reply to my tweets tend not to be too polite. I write articles – which these characters are usually too lazy to read – and they’ll reply with some nonsense in response to the title (which, as I must always repeat, I don’t get to write). “What rubbish!” is the general tenor of their reply or it will be some insult along the “typical libtard!” or “Such a snowflake”, which doesn’t fill me with good will.
Rarely I’ll block this kind of reply but sometimes I do, even though I know that hands the advantage to the other side because they’ll take great delight in being blocked. Yet it’s not a block because I’m incapable of fighting my corner. It’s just that I can’t be arsed.
A friend rang me today and told me a story of a taxi trip they’d taken this morning. In addition to the taxi driver boasting about how much money he earns (far more than my friend, hugely more than me), they said something like “Oh, no need to wear a mask in here. It’s all good. The virus was made by the government in order to thin out the population…”
I asked my friend what they said and they just sighed. “What could I say? How can you answer that?”
They had a point. What can you say? Life sometimes needs a block function.
As I’m sure has said many times, the problem with social media is the “social” part. There was a time when there was always a “them” and an “us”. To be crude and elitist about it (and I honestly don’t know a better way of describing it), there was a time when educated people didn’t mix with people who were straightforward crazy or stupid. Social media made us all equal. Suddenly you have astrologers emailing astronomers to tell them where they have it wrong.
I was reminded of this (and sorry if this is turning into another rant) when I spotted the story that Dara O’Briain’s Stargazing Live has been cancelled by the BBC. He’d responded with disbelief and noted that the BBC are paying Scarlett Moffatt money to record a podcast in which she discusses conspiracy theories with her boyfriend Scott Dobinson (I have no idea who these people are, btw).
A few synopses of other episodes of “Scarlett Moffatt Wants to Believe”…
“Can Scarlett prove to Daisy and Scott that the pyramids were built by time travellers?”
“Are mermaids real? And why are fish so sexy?”
“Is Prince Charles a vampire? Are the royal family descended from alien lizards?”
Maybe I’m missing the joke. Perhaps this is some clever way to engage with this nonsense in order to debunk them. If so, then I think it’s mistaken.
I used to be a supporter of the BBC and catch me on a good day I still am… But I feel the last dregs of my support slipping away with every passing week. Tim and I have recorded 67 episodes of our podcast for which I can honestly say we’ve not earned a single penny. Call it sour grapes if you want (it is) but, for fuck’s sake. I’ve sent so much material to the BBC over the years, never had a crumb of support back, just tediously “right on” messages telling me how they “help writers from non-traditional backgrounds”.
They’re probably right. “Scarlett Moffatt Wants to Believe” is a perfect example of that. Moronic drivel that perpetuates the myth that all us working class northerners are as thick-as-shit.
Sorry. *Now* I’m getting angry…
Better leave it here. I was going to swing back to my original point but I guess I’ve made my point. How does a moderately sane reasonable person engage with this world except with a howl of derision?