The blue canary in the coal mine

I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and the activism that takes place on it. Largely on twitter, but similar could be said about Facebook and Instagram, and the general “Headlines Only” absorption of news and the increasing polarity of people.

But let’s focus on twitter. In college, I gave a speech about how activists during the Arab Spring used twitter to effectively organize and fight back. And as a disabled person, digital activism allows me to participate in ways inaccessible before. Since there’s so much advertising on Twitter it’s also useful when trying to reach a company to ask for change. Which makes it’s impossible for me to just shrug and say “twitter is pure evil what can I say.”

As I was discussing this with the ace community, someone anonymous messaged me to say, ‘twitter is also more full of minors than tumblr. And minors are more prone to spreading misinformation about events because they weren’t there for it.

And I thought on that for a second. It absolutely is common issue that queer history not being taught. And I don’t think this behavior is for a lack of critical thinking either on “the youths” part, or compete lack of care for it. I think it’s an issue of speed.

Twitter moves at such a fast pace, and with so many people trying to get attention on so many valid concerns that in order to even attempt to address all the ills in the world you have to juggle it all. Sometimes literally only taking a second to decide on an issue. “Does that sound like some other thing? Close enough, toss in the same pile. Whatever, we got 12 other things to focus on.”

Since twitter comes at you so fast, and often in an such unfiltered way, it’s overwhelming. So instead of technology adding in productivity that leads to a next level of consciousness type of singularity, it creates more of a mental DDOS attack.

And it’s not all that different from capitalism demanding you be productive at all costs, and that by the end of the day you are so tired you can’t sort out things. That’s a feature of it, not a bug. You want to strike for better working conditions? Have fun risking starvation during the process.

And I think the “turn yourself into a commodity via your tweets” is most evident by the fact that any popular tweet’s second reply is often “I don’t have a sound cloud to promote but here’s my—“

It’s actually kind of funny because a big sticking point of people leaving tumblr a few years ago was that it was too slow. Without realizing that twitter is a multi-lane highway that every user often has to cross on foot. And that result ends up with a bunch of banged up people who feel so beaten down that any criticism is meet with “please don’t cancel me!!” Which is not anyone’s goal when correcting false information or asking for accountability.

I’ve gone on multiple twitter hiatuses after abuse I’ve faced on the platform and each time to do I’m struck with this sense of how quiet it is despite twitter’s feed making no noise. It feels like you just left a room full of people screaming, that to some level had been such a constant you didn’t realize just how loud it was until it wasn’t there anymore.

Maybe you hear it too.