Thursday, September 22, 2016
Glenn Reynolds. On The Self-Harm Caused by Tweeting
My apologies for the quiet on this here blog. Life and its troubles intervened.
Glenn Reynolds, a law professor ( who therefore should know better) and a conservative pundit, was temporarily suspended from Twitter for this tweet:
Reynolds is not my favorite flavor of the month*. It's also worth noting that another right-wing pundit has been permanently suspended from Twitter for tweets which cross the line from pretend-performance-art to inciting real hatred toward other people and groups**.
Still, there's something wider I want to say about this case, something which might matter to others than weird propagandists on Twitter.
Reynolds defends the above tweet by saying, among other things, that he has sent off over 580,000 tweets, and they can't all be perfect.
But here's the thing: Every single of those 580,000+ tweets can be saved, every single of them equals etching its message on the tissues of the universe , and every single one will be interpreted by someone as if it resulted from careful, slow and rational thought.
Twitter is a game***, or several games in one box. There's the sub-game of ganging up on people, threatening people, doxxing people and so on. There's the sub-game of trying to get people banned when they don't deserve to be banned****, there's the sub-game of sending hordes, small or large, to attack specific individuals.
Now, all those are nasty sub-games. But the ones we all must play are the games of seemingly chatting with a few individuals while the message goes to the universe, the games of having trouble with the small number of characters allowed for a tweet, and the resulting game of being misunderstood, with various consequences. There's the game of mixing up opinion with facts, of presenting false evidence in a way which is tough to correct, and there's the game of taking things out of context.
Or so I think, and that's why I can't understand why people don't plait their fingers or stuff them into mittens or, if all else fails, chew them off, when they get angry while tweeting. Because nothing good follows from the instinctive reaction of slashing back at someone without even having taken one breath first.
* A couple of examples of Reynolds' views on women and such can be found in this post and in this one.
** You can read more about the pundit described in that link here and here.
*** I'm not covering here the obviously useful and beneficial aspects of Twitter which are not really games.
*** This does not apply to Instapundit/Reynolds, but I have seen it done on Twitter.