Twitter has been a big thing for me during this year. I was setting up an online game thing for my younger one today and I had to have answers to questions as a triple-quadruple security check. What is your favourite hobby? I put, "Sleeping." Child said, questioningly, "Twitter?" So there you go.
@Soundwords was set up for business reasons, but like much of the year, that's been put on hold, although I have earned my living from it. The high point of the summer, where I had four others doing work with me, hasn't come good due to recent family stuff, which those who know me will know about. New year. Yay. It will be so. Again. Eventually.
Consequently, for me, Twitter became something I have used to get news, catch up with friends, make new ones, exchange views, have a giggle. Or even, as a means to having a real laugh and meet up with people, without finding oneself engaging in some exciting, illicit, risky, life-affirming relationship.
Twitter also allows you to follow odd things via # and generally amuse yourself and gain information. [self censors this: were X really guilty? Did X really do Y?] Believe me, #universe is amazing...try it.
Twitter is what you make it and I have made it thus for me. And the brilliant thing, for me at least, is it's about words. It's not necessarily about pictures and timelines and pages and your whole life laid out like smoking kippers for all to see and then devour, like other social networks.
It's just here's me in the here and the now. Or people might say via a tweet on my timeline: "Here's me and since you follow me, why not read my blog?" Or "THIS > lol :-) *laughing face* plus a link." Based on who it's from, you click or not.
But for some, Twitter seems to have taken on some other quality. I say this not out of some judgement thing, but out of experience.
It seems some people see Twitter as a club. The first rule of these people's Twitter club is, "You do not question my Twitter utterances."
I have about 800 and something followers. I have no idea why or how and I hope I am following most back. Even the 'cooking with cum' guy. I think I have blocked a couple of real people cos it was getting too weird, but otherwise I only use the block function for porn bots. And work-from-home bots. The former cos they don't realise I am a heterosexual woman and they send me inappropriate pics, i.e. of naked other women. The latter because they do realise I am a woman and they are trying to make us women 'buy' crap piece-work jobs.
So I set up my account in the name of my business as a 'social marketing' idea, but since I've not really progressed the marketing or the business, I may as well enjoy the social bit. Which I have.
My issue is that I have opinions. But really I don't express them on Twitter that much because I assume at some point I may have some person do due diligence on my web profile for business reasons when I get this show on the road. So I express thoughts but not opinions. What's the distinction? Here's an example:
Thought: Why is it that school homework always appears in a big tsunami when you least need it? Oh, my evening is crapped out.
Opinion: Schools produce homework like frogs produce spawn. When they have to. In their case, cos Ofsted may visit.
See the difference?
I tweeted something like the former at the time.
Yet some people live their lives by opinion and use Twitter purely to dispense that and usually they have columns in magazines to promote or books to sell or they have a TV opinion piece to deliver or a newspaper digest to do. In that situation, I wish they would not then take umbrage when others take issue with their 'expressed opinions' on Twitter.
Yet weirdly, they are the first to pounce when others do express an opinion right back at them.
I have been blocked by Sally Bercow, pre her *innocent face*, for being, in her words, 'Snidey'. She had tweeted something about how her kids were coming home from school with Christian views. She said she was going to have a word with the school about that. I asked if she really thought that her kids' school was more influential on her children's opinions than hers or John's.
You see, I think all those teachers and so on need a bit more respect than that. And that was quite a criticism of an easily ID'd school I reckon?
Billy Bragg wasn't that keen on me asking if his thoughts re the #twittercunttrial were a bit conflicting with the whole Tollpuddle thing.
You see, I thought Bragg was a good bloke who had fought for rights for years and even the right to tell a council that they were corrupt and self-serving. The person who Bragg dissed for calling Bexley councillors cunts got his conviction overturned because HE FOUGHT for the right to tell them this stuff.
Owen Jones went into a hissy when I questioned his views on self employment.
He went into one because he'd presented his dad as self-employed so he knew exactly about the increase in self-employed people cos his dad was self-employed. And... his dad wasn't really so actually no one else was... Sigh. I'll not bother getting up in the morning then, Owen? Or should I. Really confusing message that.
And today, I challenged Laurie Penny as to her portrait of Brighton. She said I was, 'Silly.'
To give them credit, I don't think Owen Jones and Billy Bragg have blocked me. Yet. But their responses were all, "Oh, you fool. You know nothing."
If I expressed an opinion in public, including via Twitter, I'd be prepared to defend it.
It seems to me Twitter allows people with opinions a rare facility. They get to go on TV and radio etc. expressing those same opinions. They then come back to Twitter and re-express them... but only to those who already agree with them - because THEY'VE BLOCKED THE REST OF US.
Their right to do so. But I'd question if they're right to do so.
Because it may not serve them well. Surely if you hold an opinion, the more challenges you have to it, the more refined that idea can become. The more arguments you have, the more solid you can feel in expressing that opinion?
Back in the day, this was called debate and discussion.
However, if people who have opinions but don't like being questioned then block all of us who question them, however 'silly' or 'snidey' or foolish or wrong-brained they may think we are, or our methods are, does it not then lead to them to holding just more narrow, self-serving views?
Self serving re themselves but also their chosen movements or political angles, parties or whatever. And I don't think that's how society works. For the best.
It's their right, sure. If that's the way they roll. Perhaps it's their role. Flimsy opinions given air. The givers given air space via wider media. They get airs cos of feeling really important. The establishment breathes a sigh of relief as another generation is squashed by the media cosh as it comes down on our heads courtesy of the players.
But if I were them, if I really wanted to engage with society, which is of course related to the word 'social', and if I wanted to use this Twitter medium, which is where we get the word 'media', I'd argue the toss now and again without being defensive. And actually be respectful to people and maybe even respect their opinions and thoughts if they were different. I'd listen to them. Think, 'Why is this person feeling hostile to what I said?' And in the case of those I have cited, to them. Once you have a media image, you become a figure towards whom ideas and thoughts can be directed. Accpeted or just don't do what you do!
But in the meantime 'they', the Twitter opinion meisters have their power. And they can block our opinions. Easy.
For example, Sally, I'm not married to the speaker of the House of Commons. Penny, I do not have contacts with the lefty press to get my wise words published. Billy, I don't have your platform. Owen, I don't have a regular call from the BBC Newsnight team to appear to express my opinion.
Rather than this lot saying, "HOW DARE SHE?*" I'm saying to them, "Can I have some more?**" As in debate, discussion, argument. And less hissy fits from those who should really know better. Let me question what you say. Let me have my opinion when you express one. Without blocking me. And let me do so in my own style. Silly, Snidy, Slutty, Shitty, whatever. Put up with it. Grow some***.
Oh, and don't call people Trolls just cos they don't *shock horror* agree with you and question you on your opinions in whatever way they see fit. If your ideas, thoughts, opinions and so on are good enough, you will get to trip trap over the bridge. Re the alternative Troll metaphor, re fishing, don't linger. Move on. Be bright and more clever than them.
Or you can click BLOCK and be a cunt.
The C word above is brought to you by my sponsor @obotheclown and the real Trolls: @skip_licker and @sir_olly_c whose art I admire and love. They don't call the shots but they do point out total hypocritical shitting fuckwittery coming from those who think they do. Who don't. And for that reason, I would. But not at the same time.
***intelligence, dignity, humility.