Abuse on Twitter (and social media in general) is ending the usefulness of the network. I’m not blameless either, although I do attempt to be more helpful than confrontational and critical on social media. There’s an absolutely fascinating article you should read if you’re concerned about the decline of social media.
Can we create a better web? Sure. But I think we have to start with humility, gratitude, reality — not arrogance, privilege, blindness. Abuse isn’t a nuisance, a triviality, a minor annoyance that “those people” have to put up with for the great privilege of having our world-changing stuff in their grubby hands. It will chill, stop, and kill networks from growing, communities from blossoming, and lives from flourishing. If your purpose is social interaction, abuse is as central to it as bacterial infection is to selling meat. Get it wrong, and you might just end up like Twitter in 2015. Not a beautiful town square, but a raging mosh pit. Good luck selling tickets to that.
I’ve noticed a lot fewer new faces on Twitter since I first started my 2nd account when I ran for city council in 2012. That campaign was tinged by waves of new people to Twitter, including dedicated trolls attacking a mayoral candidate that got very little positive attention, and attracted the majority of negative attention during the whole campaign.
The waves of abuse that person saw compare to what many women face when using Twitter.
Eden, from Regina, offers examples of what sort of violent abuse she faces as a woman using and making technology and music.
So, how can we be critical, without being considered abusive by the targets of our critiques? A journalist at Global told me I wasn’t doing a good job of it.
So how are people to interact online given contentious political topics, especially where critique and peaceful public dissent is essential for maintaining an evolving democratic system? Leave your thoughts in the comments, without a trace of irony.