Saturday, 7 November 2015

Twitter Mob.

There are some occasions where 'mob rule' might work perfectly; overthrowing a government, for example, or challenging authority. Often people worry about the tendency for 'mob rule' online; there's a much higher chance of influencing the masses on here although normally this 'mob rule' is a mistaken identity. The Internet is the prime tool for influential movements that have migrated from less well educated 'mob' to a much better informed group of individuals. One can do great and powerful things on this here virtual world and if this involves influencing the masses in a way where they have access to a thousand other sources and facts then it can be no such thing. That's not 'mob rule' that is just 'working things out'. Alas there are some occasions where the whole business of people working things out together gets lost in what is, essentially,  a 'mob rule'.

I follow a lot of activists online. I'm not sure how I ended up doing that but it is what fills up my twitter feed. Sometimes it looks like the brain vomit of a pretentious university student; all entitlement and opinions and unwavering self-belief. It is, for the most part, great. It is informative, interesting, and entertaining. Some people out there have very valid things to say about the world and I am here listening to them. And yet, sometimes I find myself annoyed by it all. Often I watch an argument unfold on my twitter feed and often it can get very aggressive. Sometimes I find myself feeling a little defensive of the losing side even if I don't completely agree with them. Sometimes it stops becoming an argument and simply becomes a 'slay'. A 'slay' is when a twitter activist cuts down completely what their opponent is saying and 'educates' them on what they were very wrong about. Lots of people join in. 'Slay' is a completely appropriate word choice. The poor bugger won't have a chance to fight back. I am not convinced that they have been 'educated' and I would say that this 'slaying' is a form of 'mob rule'. There is no debate, there is just an aggressive string of information that leaves no leeway. So sometimes this 'slaying' involves telling outright racists or misogynists to go shove their head in the ground, but sometimes a rather mild statement gets ripped apart before anyone actually gives it any thought.

The other day a Twitter activist I follow asked the question "is it okay for a black man to say he is not attracted to black women?". A white woman innocently replied with something along the lines of "don't people date who they are attracted to?". A completely valid response because, yes, people do date whomever they are attracted to. But instead of her remark being taken into consideration in the discussion the original question was supposed to invoke, or even being ignored, two men got back to her with lines like "no one asked you, white girl". I understand the implications of white entitlement, and white privilege which can overpower or even silence black voice but I don't see this as being an example of that. I see people not listening to her and shutting her down before coming to a well thought out conclusion in what is an interesting discussion topic. It was a completely unnecessary 'slay'.

Maybe 'mob rule' is too strong a phrase for little moments like this. But I do see it happen quite a lot. There is a lack of debate, of discussion, of respecting each other in the process of both those things. I think I see a lot of people getting overwhelmed by a feeling or a belief and finding a group of people who feel or believe the same and moving in that group of people without letting a new idea in. They get the idea that they have to all bring down their opponents, they have to 'slay' them. This, to me, looks a little bit like mob mentality. It doesn't look healthy and I really don't think it is educating anyone but those who are already on the 'right' side of the argument. I would much rather see an intense discussion unfold on something that could create an interesting topic rather than a huge group of Twitter users abusing a single voice for not thinking the way that they think. Surely that really isn't any fun?