Let me get the obvious out of the way first. Yes, I know I could use Twitter if I really wanted to. I realize nothing is physically preventing me from logging on. My refusal to use the service is on ethical and moral grounds.
I’m a writer by nature. I want to write. I LOVE to write. I want to get my messages out there. I want to engage with the written word. So it stands to reason I would find Twitter very appealing.
But I don’t.
On the surface Twitter seems cool. And don’t get me wrong there’s a lot of good things that happen there but below the surface, at its core, Twitter reminds me of an environment that I’ve tried very hard to forget: The halls of my middle school.
Some of you on here know that story, others don’t. The short version is that for the entirety of Grade 8 I suffered constant abuse, harassment and bullying at the hands of my fellow students. I was also failed by a School Administration that continually told my parents and I that action would be taken to deal with the problem only to turn around and do absolutely nothing.
I’m sure you can see the parallels already.
The truth is I nearly ended up committing suicide because of the bullying I received at that school. Obviously, I don’t think I’d ever want to off myself because of a Tweet but we have all witnessed how peoples lives can be severely damaged if not outright destroyed by the often Wild West like environment of Twitter.
Several prominent people, including Joss Whedon, Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda and some of the women involved with the GamerGate fiasco have outright quit the service over the abuse and harassment they’ve suffered over what are realistically inane, non controversial things. Not to mention some of the GamerGate women have had to move addresses or take measures to physically protect their family after their personal details were outed on the service.
And these are just the more prominent examples. I’m sure there’s hundreds if not thousands of other folks that have been driven off Twitter by an unregulated, unrestrained army of trolls and keyboard commandos.
It was the same with me when I was bullied. I never did ANYTHING to deserve the abuse. They just saw me as vulnerable for some reason and came after me. Every hallway, every classroom, every inch of the schoolyard they could get at me. Now why in the world would I want to expose myself to that again on Twitter?
Now you may be thinking: “Oh come on man, you’re being too negative. Twitter’s not that bad. Really.”
You might think so, but when Chuck C Johnson can dox, stalk and explicitly threaten people without repercussion, when any young woman can be deluged with rape threats without any intervention, when any wannabe blogger or political pundit can unleash an army of racist, misogynist trolls without punishment and when the daughter of a beloved celebrity can be mercilessly mocked and ridiculed over her father’s death, I don’t think I’m overreacting at all.
Sure, Twitter has rules, but rules are useless when you don’t enforce them. What’s the logic in putting up a “DO NOT ENTER” sign on a door when you’re just going to let everybody in anyway? Twitter comes off more like an unprotected, unsupervised, overcrowded schoolyard cafeteria than a serious social networking service.
Twitter has failed me and many others time and time and time again. Until they clean up their act and get serious about cracking down on abuse and harassment, I won’t be Tweeting anything.
I’ve already survived the “Wild west” once and I’ve no desire to try and do so again.
I’ll still do plenty of writing, but it won’t be on Twitter.