You can’t possibly have failed to notice that this last week has seen something of a furore around the subject of twitter trolls and the issue of what is and is not acceptable online behaviour. As a consequence, there are increasing calls for twitter to be regulated and even policed to clamp down on those who transgress the rules of common decency.
They are wrong. Very wrong.
Now as anyone who follows me on twitter will know I am a huge fan. To me it’s a great source of both news and amusement as well as being a fantastic way to promote my books and well, what I do. Most importantly for me at least, it’s a great way to interact with readers and it’s fair to say that I’ve made some great mates though twitter with I hope, many more to come.
However, I’ve also encountered some proper dicks over the years and received more than my share of abuse from all kinds of trolls. This last week for example, besides the usual ‘shit writer’ fair, I’ve been accused of condoning child abuse, being a child abuser, being sexist, homophobic and racist. None of which is particularly nice I’m sure you’ll agree but, and this is the crux of this whole matter, I know how to deal with it. And by that I mean me. Not twitter, not my ISP and not the police, me.
And at the heart of that is one simple statement, ‘it’s not personal, it’s twitter’.
The day you start screaming blue murder about something mean said about you by some anonymous idiot on a social networking site is the day your life begins to spiral out of control. No, it’s not nice to be accused of being a rapist and I’m fairly certain that it’s not nice to read that someone is going to rape you but by reacting, you do exactly what the person who wrote it wants you to do, take them seriously and give them power. And power is all they’re after.
This is where people are getting it wrong when they claim twitter should be clamping down on trolls. Twitter doesn’t have to. You do, as the individual.
Yes, of course there are exceptions just as there are to every rule and yes, there will be instances where the police should and must get involved. But in the main, it is your choice to react, ignore or hit the block button which twitter already provides for you to use in just such cases.
If you don’t understand that and don’t accept that in many ways, twitter is the greatest manifestation of free speech we have, then rather than scream blue murder about the need for censorship (yes, censorship) why not take control yourself and employ the ultimate sanction, delete your account.
Because you do actually have that option at your disposal and speaking as a twitter fan, if you do indeed think that twitter is there to serve you and not the other way round, then I’d urge you to do just that.
I for one won’t miss you one bit.
This last couple of weeks has seen lots of progress on the movie adaptation of Top Dog and we’ll be releasing news of what’s been going on very soon. I’ll also be able to pass on details of the brand new movie I’m working on as well as a fantastic self-publishing project!
18 thoughts on “Twitter isn’t the enemy, you are.”
I would have to wholeheartedly disagree. If I was in a bar and a man threatened to rape me, then I would expect the the bar management would take some responsibility for that. It should be the same on Twitter.
And surely me deleting my account would be the ultimate act of giving them power?
As would I. But the difference between ‘real life’ and twitter is one of context.
If you are in a bar, the threat is direct and physical. If you’re on the internet, it’s remote and anonymous. Yes, that doesn’t make it any less threatening but on the internet you have the choice to remove yourself from that threat instantly. Look at what happened this week. The journalist kicked up a fuss and twitter exploded into troll heaven. Yet if she had simply blocked the sender, the whole thing would have ended instantly.
That doesn’t make it right in the true sense of the word, but twitter, like facebook and myspace before it, has opened up a while new world of social interaction and it is one that many people are still struggling to understand simply because they expect the traditional rules of decency and courtesy to apply which sadly, they often don’t.
Hence, if you can’t handle that, then walk away. That’s power.
There is of course an alternative if someone trolls you, take them on. I occasionally do it but it takes a thick skin and a specific mindset. Yet inevitably, all that happens is that they do exactly what I urge others to do in terms of taking control; they block me.
Yes, I win a battle but ultimately all that happens is that it just wastes time. So why bother?
But if you look at the recent example, she was receiving 50 threats an hour, each graphic and wholly terrifying. While you can’t expect Twitter to police every post that is made, there should be measures in place that people are able to feel safe using it.
This isn’t just someone saying “I think you’re a dick / I don’t like what you’re saying” these were violent, graphic threats being made.
If someone posted just one of these (via old fashioned Royal Mail) then I would open it, freak the fuck out and go to the police. I wouldn’t just throw it away. Imagine if I was receiving 50 a day – its almost beyond comprehension.
Its a sad state of affairs when someone being threatened should be considered a simple act of ‘trolling’
The reason she received 50 threats an hour was because she did exactly what troll #1 wanted her to do and exactly what you should not do, she responded. Then she foolishly tried to reason, etc, etc.
Twitter isn’t the Royal Mail, it’s 140 digits of verbal tennis. If a ball is hit at you and you don’t hit it back, there’s no game.
I’m not blaming her, but I am accusing her of being at best naive and at worst plain stupid because trolling is irrational so you cannot apply rational thinking when confronted with it nor when trying to deal with it. And as a consequence, it has to come down to personal responsibility. You choose to use it, you choose who you follow, you choose what to read, you choose who to block.
Agreed. There has to be a course of conduct for an offence of harassment to be committed… ie causing distress more than once. if someone receives what they intrepret as an offensive Tweet or Facebook post, then using the block button prevents there being second, third posts and so on – therefore stopping an offensive being committed. While i appreciate some messages can be personal and obscene, if a “victim” decides to engage with a troll or allow them to keep posting messages (or even retweets them) then they can hardly expect law enforcement agencies to intervene. If I can’t leave my house because someone is standing outside waiting to abuse me, I’d call the police. If I can’t use a website without getting upset about the content, I’d stop logging on.
Another bloody ism, femininity has a right to exist and woman should be treated with respect, but sorry you are playing at feminism my great great gran Laura Ormiston Chant was a real champion for the cause.
What’s your point?
Good read mate.
I was on Twitter a year and blogging football (Live in Scotland)
Got bored with all the arseholes on there. All over football.
I support Celtic (No judging now, lol)
But because I fought with Hibs in my youth (15/20 years ago) I was a bad man. People grow up and stop wearing £200 gloves to go out for a pavement dance.
Thanks chap. Know what you mean!
Having a look on Amazon, see you got a book..
May order. My mate Andy Blance (This was years ago now) Got a book written about him by Irvine Welsh, Both from Edinburgh. http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/exclusive-controversial-author-irvine-welsh-1017278 Book is called “These Colours Don’t Run” Was a bit sensationalised by the media as you can see. But it’s a book! Like a Film “Trainspotting” it has to hit the mark with a bit of truth or what’s the point? 🙂
ps: Just grabbed this, http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Crew-ebook/dp/B005GHM820/ref=pd_cp_kinc_0 Cheers
As a 26 year old female, I get shouted at in the street, I get my arse grabbed in bars on a weekly basis. If we go by your line of thinking then I would never leave the house.
It doesn’t matter what the medium is, the fact is it happens, its scary and enough to make the toughest woman vulnerable.
And the offender was reported, blocked, arrested… Another account was set up. Blocking becomes a full time job.
You’re whole point is, at best, misjudged.
You’re missing the point Kayleigh. You cannot compare what happens on Twitter to what happens in real life because to do so assumes Twitter is ‘real’ and it isn’t. It’s anonymous.
However, if the argument is that if someone behaves in a certain way on twitter then they will likely carry that over into reality, then again the answer when it comes to the internet is simple: ignore and block. Because if you do that, you don’t give them any power which again, is all they are after.
Real life is a different thing entirely and in that respect, if someone does something offensive then direct action should and must be taken. Be it calling the police or a slap in the face.
However, the bigger question then is why certain people feel able to behave in such a manner? And that has to come down to the way they were brought up. That’s what we as a society should really be looking at.
Indeed, one could also ask if someone in the street threatened to rape a woman as a form of abuse or a way of intimidation, would the police actually take action?
Its still threatening, whether you regard it as ‘real’ or not!
I get threats and abuse every day via twitter, FB and Amazon and have done for years. They are only threatening if you regard them as such and if you instead take them as being nothing more than idiots mouthing off and treat them accordingly, the whole thing very quickly becomes non-threatening.
Blocking also only stops them contacting me from that account. They could still go on to contact thousands of others if they wanted.
All women are asking for is a simple “Report” button on twitter so that people routinely abusing others can be dealt with. It would be wonderful if that was never used, but that won’t ever happen.
But a ‘report’ button would do nothing anyway because a serial abuser would simply set up another account. It’s a power trip remember. So take away the power… ignore/block.
I tweeted a great article I read about this very thing last night…. look for it.
Its easy to say that – but not everyone will view it that way. If someone sent me a tweet with a rape threat, I’d be horrified and wanting to report it. And I’d like to think, as my dad, so would you be.
As your dad, of course I would be. And if it were from someone you knew, I’d be the first to go round and have a word in their ear.
But also as your dad, having seen what I do, I would hope that you would know how I view social media and would be astute enough to follow my example when it comes to dealing with anonymous threats. An example which, as you have seen at first hand, actually works.
After all, I’m still here in spite of hundreds if not thousands of threats which suggested that wasn’t going to be the case. 🙂 xx