If you venture on to Twitter you hear a lot of them, so, I suppose the platform is aptly named.
Like so many of these social media things, I use Twitter, but not really properly – I haven’t really worked the nuances (if there are any) out. As a result I end up reading a load of cant and opinions that confuse the hell out me. My problem is not inattention, but attention. I give too much attention to everything. I like to try to understand as much as can. I therefore get caught up. And worse, I spend too much time.
Since New Year’s Eve, on and off, I’ve been caught up in a feminist Twitterstorm that involves names you might have heard of, and names you might not have. In honesty, I had not heard any of them before at all. I say I got caught up, but really I mean I have been considering the issues raised, the different points of view, the feelings, the context, the ideologies and the history. At length. I have had to get up to speed with terms such as intersectionality, overing, shifting and check your privilege. Maybe it’s my own fault for not paying attention before, but having tried to catch up now, a number of things strike me…
But first I have to get rid of the voices: strident, regretful, aggressive, supplicant, strong, abusive, stirring, rational, questioning, trolling, matter-of-fact, judgmental, ideological and so on and on. All these people, crowding the platform with 140 characters, to basically, have an extended verbal punch-up.
Most of these voices are women. Most identify themselves as feminist. It’s not been an edifying spectacle. In fact, to a bystander hoping to understand the various agendas and issues, it’s been as brutal as a bare-knuckle boxing match. Of course, there’s no reason that women should not debate from a strong position, but there’s no reason why their airtime and consequently their audience’s attention has to be devoted to what personal agendas. To occupy a platform is a privilege, and words should be chosen well and wisely, not grabbed at in the midst of an apparent emotional hijack; even more so in this case because the main protagonists are professional writers. I am not critical of anything that was said actually, more that the points were lost in the ensuing muddle. If I were the producer I would wonder if the brief had been too loose and baggy in the first place, allowing the contributors to confuse the listener with personal argument, rather than rational debate.
I am a feminist. I believe in social justice and equality in all its forms. I just don’t happen to think that personally denigrating other human beings, for whatever reason and in public, advances any cause – ever. Sure, it grabs attention, but real change happens outside the platform spotlight. It happens in mutually respectful conversations and disagreements between human beings, and it happens unseen, in hearts and minds. All this Twitterspatting clouds the worthy issues and leaves one with a headache. I am still unsure if it even made for good radio… and I would be interested to hear all the contributors voices and Jenni Murray, the presenter’s, on that one.
It all started here, on Woman’s Hour, the fallout is too tedious and viciously personal on nearly all sides to relate.
Second note to self: you are so getting old. If you can’t stand the heat etc.
Question: is it possible big ideas are cuckoos in the Twitter nest?