TEMPEST IN A TWEET

TEMPEST IN A TWEET

Matt HealeySaturday,4 April 2015

I always knew there were Twitter controversies. Things that exploded on Twitter and other forms of social media that had a profound effect on someone or something. Usually I don’t really pay attention to these things. But over the past week or so, I have seen two of them. The first was a minor dustup between @rickygervais and @cutequeer96. I was reading it in real time because it was so weird to me. Apparently Ricky posted something about dogs being rescued somewhere in Asia. They were going to be killed and eaten. Apparently the process involves the dogs being skinned alive. I know – it is horrifying. What confused me was the Twitter-versy that followed. Apparently because Ricky objected to that practice, he was being hypocritical because he allegedly eats beef (I say allegedly because I think I remember some tweets where he said he hadn’t eaten a steak in 40 years but I am not really sure the status of his diet) and thus he had to be called out by @cutequeer96. The while things seemed ridiculous to me but it got so heated that death threats were issued (apparently that is where all twitter-versies end up) and the posts were deleted. The two tweets that remains are:

And

 

The second Twitter-based controversy involves the anti-semetic, anti-women posts by Trevor Noah; I was alerted to them by @AdriniBot.

What surprises me is the frequency of these events and the passion they ignite. I am surprised that you can get so worked up in 140 characters. I mean it is 140 characters. The other thing is the realization that, as The New York Times pointed out, “Twitter just can’t take a joke.” More importantly people on Twitter can’t read either. By not being able to read, I don’t mean that they cannot read the words, butrather they cannot read them and think about them. Does Twitter really need a post that explains that just because someone speaks out against dogs being skinned alive, they must want all other animal species driven to extinction? It makes no sense to me.

Granted I spend a lot of time paying attention to a black and white world. Specifically the world of professional sports. If you watch or listen to as much ESPN as I do, then you quickly realize that players are either the best ever in their sport or total bums that should be run out of town. This is so common in sports that on a recent show, Dan LeBatard lamented that there are no off ramps between being, as he put it, “A total jock sniffer” and a “hater.” The topic that he was discussing was that Steve Nash was clearly a first ballot hall of famer, one of the top point guards in the league, but was not the best point guard ever. A sentiment that I agree with LeBatard on. Nash was good, but Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas, and Walt “Clyde” Frasier were better. His Twitter feed exploded with people calling him a “hater.” But I guess when it comes to sports I was always willing to overlook the explosions because, well, at the end of the day, it is just sports and as interested in it as I am, it really doesn’t amount to a whole hell of a lot. But some of this stuff actually does matter and the Twitter/social media explosions about it are doing more harm than good. The rush to judgment, the ostracizing of people who don’t care enough about your issue, or worse, actually disagree with you, and the rapid escalation to death threats and threats of violence, all serve to shut down conversation.

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Image Credit: Flickr



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