I am in fact, personally, right now, talking to you.
You've probably done this:
Browsing away on your preferred social media platform of choice (let's be honest, it's most likely to be Twitter for reasons I'll get to), you've been having a good ol' time for the past two minutes until suddenly you see something on your feed.
Your first thought is: “Wow, what a dorkmuffin! Can't he see how stupid he looks?”
Your second? “I'm gonna call him out on it.”
And of course, if they really needed to be called out on it, you would have probably done the social media equivalent of taking them off to the side and having a polite conversation about their behavior, if that, considering there's no guarantee they would listen.
But no, you choose to re-post their post on your feed and call them stupid in front of your audience, their audience, and anyone else nearby on the off chance of them seeing you and sharing your epic dunk.
And now you just know that your big number that goes up, whether it's called “followers”, “friends”, or “watchers”, is going to go up.
I've done this too. It's an innate human response to laugh at the dork in front of your friends to get them to like you, or to walk up to that person, thoroughly dress them down and send them away in shame to make yourself feel big and strong.
We've all heard the platitudes of “Strong people don't put others down, they lift them up”, but especially on modern social media, you're not a bully- You're the hero. It is literally built to maximize anger, righteous or otherwise, because it's developers have long ago figured out anger is the most trafficked emotion in the human emotional lexicon.
And that's why Twitter, my biggest platform online, is so painful for me to use these days.
When you consider the already present bias people have for anger, disgust and outrage to be shared- And the related desire to share it or even create it, Twitter's 280 character limit does not help anything.
When 280 characters, instead of as many paragraphs as necessary, are all you have to communicate, you're going to make those characters count for the biggest emotional punch you can muster as you have no reasonable way to produce a logical, and possibly even respectful (Imagine that!) deconstruction of your opponent's behavior or argument.
And far be it for me to ever say people were not lazy before, but Twitter has not helped other sites online where similar discipline is actually possible. The Tweet is easy to write and not a huge commitment to read. Items of similar length are therefore far better received elsewhere as so many people who have a presence online have a twitter account where they spend most of their time.
I'll admit it is a big pool for an audience, but I'm less sure these days whether it is the audience I want.
What brought this on, though?
Oh, you know. Being on the receiving end of this kind of behavior just recently made me consider the flawed human condition, my contributions to it and where I am in the world.
I was frustrated. I even tried to tweet about it, but ultimately the only thing I was comfortable with was writing in my Blarg about it, where I have the genuine freedom of as many paragraphs as I need.
What bothers me the most is that so often it is punching down. Why?
Because if you are trying to get your big number that goes up to go up, the worst thing you could do is pick a fight with someone that actually has teeth and get countered gracefully, looking like the stupid one yourself.
Personally, I think it is a far better tactical choice to call out someone who is too big to see you or care, like one of the modern AAA gaming companies everyone hates- But if it's not clear already, I am growing increasingly disgusted with the war of conquest such people are waging in general.
My 300+ followers on Twitter makes me look like a pretty good target for someone that has 1,000- Those that switch sides don't have to be numerous to help them or hurt me, and both things are something such a person would want.
Outside of numbers, I am aware I appear to be weak. My purpose online has not been to deliberately offend. I have allowed others to have their offense in matters related to me, and I definitely put up walls against those who do not afford me the same grace.
But while not wishing to deal with someone is so often interpreted as running and hiding, I keep myself in check because I know precisely how useless making the attempt is.
Given sufficient time and thought, any online combatants could match one another blow-for-blow, but rising on top the victor when chosen as the victim is nearly impossible as they too have sufficient time and thought. It all leads to a stalemate- Our audiences think less of our opponents, one combatant blocks the other, and little else changes.
So in the end, I have three points to this scatterbrained, frustrated Blarg post:
1. Given all the former, I kind of do not like Twitter anymore. I'm only on the site as a necessity. Ironic that I come to this conclusion as Discord was the true instigator of this post, but at least with Discord I can much easier arrange things so that I may keep the company I actually enjoy.
2. I wish more people had the good sense to just cut out people who are personally offensive to them, instead of trying to get a mob to agree with them. I have plenty of people who follow me, though not a huge number. I would never want them to assist me in tearing someone apart, because it's ultimately a waste of their time too. Not only that, ruining someone's day is the kind of guilt I don't think I could take, especially if I led a mob to help me.
3. Blocking on first offense is not cowardice, It's expediting the inevitable- And in having to work in platforms which encourage such a thing, I can generally see the fireworks coming a mile away.
Forgive me if I skip the show.
If you've made it to the bottom, congrats! This was a very long one. Please consider following me on one of my other platforms as shown here on the links page of my site.