Saturday, December 20, 2014

On Twitter Outrages And Related Topics

Slate has a long list of useful articles to understand what an outrage means on Twitter and what ensues when an outrage has happened.  If you don't share that particular Twitter world, the articles may let you understand one negative side of social media.  It also has many positive sides*, but I'm the goddess of gloom, and if I'm tongue-tied (forked tongue-tied) on Twitter, it's because of the fear that 140 misunderstood characters will destroy my life forevermore.  Quoth the raven.

This links to something wider.   When I began blogging I looked at the keyboard like a child seeing a chocolate castle:  Mine!  All mine!  What fun we will have!

When I got comments the glee and joy trebled and quadrupled.  And then I learned about criticism and debate and not all of that was fun, but necessary, the way cod-liver oil is good for you (and bad for the cod), the way we all grow from criticism (except when we don't) and so on.

But after a while I realized that I don't write about certain topics anymore, because I don't want the aggro.  And that is bad.  Or at least some part of my conscience thinks it's bad.  When I've tried to write on, say, why people firmly enter two separate camps on topic X** and why the conversation never advances beyond the point where the ramparts are reinforced I get comments about the two camps (ours is the correct one!) and more strengthening of the ramparts. 

That makes certain types of posts pointless.  Well, not fun, in any case.

All that is an attempt to explain why writing suddenly seems harder for me than it used to be (I'd send off a long post in as many minutes as it took to type it in, without any editing!  Oh those salad days!), why I think much more about what will happen after I press the Publish-button and why many of my posts are frozen in drafts.

Some of that is great!  It's good to check one's work carefully and to think about what one may have omitted or misrepresented.  But it's not as much fun.
*It allows some members of previously marginalized groups access to the public space, it allows the creation of movements (such as on Ferguson), it allows rapid spread of eyewitness interpretations of events and it allows some amount of direct access to the powers-that-be which can be turned into influence.  It also creates news which may have been ignored by the mainstream media and disseminates important information more widely.  All that is good (though eyewitness reports may be false and the spread of false statistics is still the spread of misunderstood statistics).

**The X could stand for feminists-and-prostitution, feminism-and-transgender-movement, Israel-vs-Palestine, Islamophobia-vs-multiculturalism-gone-amok and so on.  Even something as technical as the individual responsibility part of the ACA is one of those X-topics.  What all those seem to share is the impossibility of getting anywhere but the two-sides-disagreeing setting, whatever the actual contents of the post.  And no, I'm not treating the two camps on a certain topic as equally justified, say.