This article deals with processes in feminism, but the point made about social media is true for all online discussions.
When our online world is nothing but an ‘echo chamber’, we miss the dissenting voices, the ones that change our minds, or strengthen our resolve.
It is much easier, and more comfortable to surround oneself with those who constantly give positive feedback, but sometimes we must also listen to those who think differently. I try to read and listen to those who don’t share my political views, because only then can I make informed choices. The trick is finding people to debate opposing views who are still polite and respectful in their discourse.
Who would want to be a politician in these times of call-outs, RTs and online anger? Who would like to stick their neck out and make a statement on a controversial topic?
There is a saying in German. ‘Jeden Tag eine neue Sau durchs Dorf treiben‘, which literally translated means ‘to chase a new pig through the village every day.’ I often think of this when I watch twitter-storms erupt.
I constantly self-police my comments, and there are topics that I shy away from on Twitter. Not because I am not confident in my position, but because I just don’t want to invite the rage that would undoubtedly follow.
In recent years, this has included tweeting the friends, colleagues and supervisors of the person involved, sometimes with the demand that the person be fired. How have we arrived at this position, that a life can be ruined because of a badly-worded tweet, or a poorly expressed opinion? Or even a well-expressed opinion, that someone else doesn’t agree with!
I’ve been on Twitter long enough to know that being on the receiving end of a twitter-storm is overwhelming, frightening and pointless. The trolls and flamers move on to the next twitter-storm, and it all blows over. No resolution has been found, no mind has been changed, and everything is as it was before. Except the next time one of the onlookers considers tweeting their opinion, they hesitate, and delete the draft.
In a day or two, it will be a different pig, but the life for one little piggy might just change forever.