For your information, I am on Twitter. This is only the case because the job I hope to have requires a social media presence unless you are very famous. I am not on Twitter because I enjoy it, or even feel like I am accomplishing anything. My follower base is tiny.
And honestly, I deeply wish that I were not on Twitter.
The entire environment on Twitter is both deeply disturbing and extremely harmful, both politically and socially. Everybody knows about the roving bands of half-witted, screeching teenage girls who cancel people for saying bad word or making a joke ten years ago. Everybody knows about the witch-hunts, the mob mentality, the hypocrisy.
But the most disturbing aspect of the Twitter community is that cancellation isn’t the disease. It’s a symptom. It’s a symptom of a mentality that is prevalent in the app’s community – that forgiveness and change are not possible, that discrimination and bigotry are laudable as long as they are aimed at the right people, and that seething hatred towards other human beings is a noble and unselfish emotion as long as you have some political goal to shill. And the whole vile mass is wrapped up in political extremism, an echo chamber that encourages all the angry, hate-filled teens to become ever more extreme, to shun the center, intelligent discourse and any kind of moderation in any area.
And that might not be the worst, because hatred, extremists and bigots have been on the Internet for as long as it has existed. That kind of numbskull will always be a part of humanity – a large part – because humanity’s sins never decrease. And there are a lot of other bigoted, extremist social media platforms out there.
The real problem is, Twitter has actual power.
Corporations bow to the whims of Twitter. People are fired, ostracized, have their lives ruined. Some politicians cultivate Twitter followings to bolster themselves and their views. Unlike other social media apps, it is treated as if it were real life and a substantial portion of the population.
And that is scary. Not just because it’s a hotbed for extremism and bigotry, but because it’s fueled by hatred and “othering.” Their hatred is likely to be reflected in corporations and the government, and their unwillingness to debate or engage in civil discourse is becoming the norm in society.
I’ve also seen a lot of people declaring that Twitter is a safe space for certain communities, such as LGBTQ teens. That’s fine. Whatever. I think it’s a terrible environment in which to find a “community,” but whatever.
The problem is, it’s a case of “safety for thee, not for me.” I have literally never felt safe on Twitter; barely a day goes by when I am not confronted by open, bigoted hatred for my beliefs by the same people who denounce racism, misogyny, transphobia and homophobia. They clearly could not care less about whether I feel safe, because they hate me for being who I am. Which means I can’t really take their denunciations seriously, because they are hypocrites practicing double standards – these groups of people should be safe and loved and validated, and these other ones should be hated and oppressed.
I really hate that, for the purpose of my work, I need to be on a platform where I constantly feel unsafe. I hate even more that the bigoted hatred of the people on this platform is normalized and supported in society, especially a society that preaches tolerance and acceptance.