Twitter: a sugar-hyped toddler in need of a good lie down

There are many important issues discussed in the part of Twitter that focuses on Australian politics and current affairs.

It is important that a Royal Commission has been called into institutionalised abuse of children. The conduct and outcome of the US Presidential election does have implications for Australia. The mainstream media clearly has a blind spot when it comes to Tony Abbott. And there is undoubtedly a culture of sexism pervading our society.

Unfortunately, there is also a growing culture of bullying and censorship on Twitter if one does not choose to sign up to these causes or Twitter’s latest Outrage Of The Week.

One person’s passion is another person’s passing interest. That is the nature of humanity. Thinking that something else is more important than the latest Twitter groupthink does not make one a protector of pedophiles, a misogynist, or heaven forbid, a Republican.

It could mean that some people have issues that are of more personal importance than the celebrity issues that our part of Twitter selects. Internet security might not rate highly for someone with a fatal condition or chronic pain. The misogyny debate might be esoteric to someone who is regularly subjected to domestic violence. Romney as US President might not matter to an Australian with crippling debt or an addiction.

To voice cynicism about Twitter’s latest “new shiny thing” does not diminish the thing’s actual merits. Maybe Twitter’s confected outrage and biodegradable empathy is simply galling to those with less telegenic challenges in their lives.

This does not appear to occur to tweeps who fling scorn and opprobrium at those who consciously step back from or question the latest Twitter fray. With the identification of each new cause, Twitter seems to be ratcheting up the rhetoric (perhaps in the face of desentisation or ennui), and shrilly denouncing non-participants as non-believers.

Some days it resembles nothing more than a gaggle of GetUp! toddlers, high on sugar and running in noisy circles. On such days, Twitter should be made to take a good lie down.

Author: Drag0nista

Political columnist at The New Daily | Editor of Despatches & AusVotes 2019 | Author of On Merit, a book on the Liberals' *women problem*. Former Liberal staffer and industry lobbyist. Studying the entrails of federal politics since 1989.

22 thoughts on “Twitter: a sugar-hyped toddler in need of a good lie down”

  1. It’s too easy for daft people with a mob mentality to follow a fashion in social media and bully others. It’s the sort of behavior that breeds extremists and terrorists. Watered down by being labelled cyber bullying, in terms of philosophy it’s the same as terrorism.

  2. I was getting tagged in to a twitter fight the other night by virtue of a previous comment to one of the participants and without any provocation or warning one of them turned on me. He said “Jane shouldn’t you be stroking your stillborn in a jar on the mantelpiece “, followed by “I would self abort too if you were my mother”. To be honest I’m quite robust but this floored me and kept me away from twitter for a while. I should be able to voice an opinion, whether people agree with it or not, without being subject to such nastiness. A timely piece DragOnista

    1. I’ve stupidly lashed out at people before, but that is clearly a deliberate attempt to humiliate and hurt. What an awful thing to say.

  3. It must be exhausting, making yourself the arbiter of how everyone in the world should or should not behave. Go outside, have an ice cream, turn off the computer. No one is ever going to change how they behave just because you think you’re better than them.

    1. I’ll have to disagree with you on that point. If people are not told that their behaviour is affecting others, then there is no opportunity for them to change for the better. Yielding to the bullies benefits no-one but them.

  4. Very true. I hate being made to feel that I am uncaring because I am not totally outraged by Asylum Seekers & the bloody sheep UGH! Sorry, but I have been overseas and I care a hell of a lot more about the actual camps with 1000’s & 1000’s of them there, some more than 2nd generation in a Refugee Camp. With the sheep, well again, I really think we have much bigger and more important things to worry about. It can be a lose lose situation, to actually voice your ‘real’ thoughts is to invite abuse, yet if you don’t say anything & ignore it, you can then be harassed to retweet something you really don’t give a damn about? Those are the times when I just turn off, go outside & have a wine on the deck, only the kookaburras to judge you there 🙂

    1. Yes, I get your point. Stand up with an alternative view and risk being pilloried for it. I guess this post reflects my concern that alternative views are being less and less tolerated during certain discussions on Twitter.

  5. It’s what the block function is for. I have never felt bullied on Twitter despite being blocked and unfollowed and disagreed with stridently several times, and really couldn’t give a rat’s arse about what some stranger says to me on Twitter. Not for more than 60 seconds anyway. It’s a bit of fun, a way to get more readers, a way to stay connected to what’s going on as I rarely watch TV or news. You punish yourself by caring what unpleasant people you will never even meet have to say. Block, unfollow, stop thinking about it – or dwell on it and make yourself feel bad. Your choice.

    1. I agree that the best course of action is to block and avoid the worst offenders. But why should I vacate a space because people want to dismiss or denigrate me or my views. Why give in?

      1. I don’t see it as giving in. I don’t see it as anything. I won’t engage with them in any way or let them affect me. They just don’t register on my care factor scale. Once blocked, they’re gone from my life forever and forgotten almost immediately, and I will keep on keeping on, if I want to tweet, or comment, or whatever I will. I thank cognitive behavioural therapy for the joys of just (mostly) not giving a bugger what unpleasant strangers have to say. That and always being rather NT anyway. Nobody can make us feel bad for any length of time – not by comments on forums etc anyway. I mean fair enough if they are punching you in the face or something. But a comment? It’s ourselves who make ourselves feel bad about that. Or choose not to.

  6. Two things came to mind when reading this post, reinforced by the comments. It is often so easy to misinterpret the tone of the written word, and how much more so than when we’re restricted to 140 characters.
    The other, that if I were younger or more fragile for any number of reasons, the relatively mild criticisms I’ve received, would have devastated me, at least for a while.
    Information overload makes it difficult sometimes to separate the value from the volume. It can’t hurt to be a little circumspect before jumping in and it may even help to be respectful & kind

  7. I love your description of the the collective… and some days it is just not worth the emotional investment.

    You are right some times life’s immediate personal issues are far more pressing and important than the latest shiny thing, and on those days watching the twitter stream can leave me wondering what it’s all about…

    Thankfully those days are balanced by days where the stream is a constant crack up, thought provoking, educating and just down right fun…

    1. Thanks Mick. Dead set, the day after the US election my tweet-stream did look like a bunch of toddlers. I’ve been taking regular breaks from Twitter just to keep perspective. Others are doing the same.

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