Twitteruption HPV, and A Plea for Sense


Another day, another twitter fight. These twitter fights have clear rules:

-The initiator clearly did not think through their initial post.
-The initiator takes offense when someone points out that they may have said something wrong.
-The initiatior heaps abuse on the rebutting commentator, and often draws in troops of followers to magnify the abuse so much that no one remembers what they're fighting about.

If you treat Twitter like your high school gym locker, you deserve everything you get thrown at you, even if I share your political/societal/media beliefs.

I'd tell you more of this particular fight, but unfortunately, I don't even feel right revealing who started the fight, given that the initial tweet violated someone's privacy in a frankly heinous fashion. (You can delete tweets hours after you write them, but an hour is a lifetime in social media. The damage is done.)

I'm not looking to turn this site into a gossip column ("Can you believe she said that?"). I'm commenting on this only because this is the third time this has happened this week. Three times now, there have been two people, who seem to be on the same side, who suddenly get into an argument and invent a fictional gulf that cannot be traversed.

In all three cases, the arguments ended with cat-calling, which is frankly embarrassing for the people involved, all of whom are respected political and/or feminist commentators.

In my more pessimistic moments, I wonder if all these new methods of connection and communciation are actually offering distant people more opportunity to abuse each other.

I also wonder if our increasingly uglier national conversations are seeping into personal conversations, normalizing abuse and unfounded accusation and responses made out of anger.

You see, I've always felt that part of the magic of the written word that you can edit out the insults, you can trim the fat and excess, you can reduce your response to the most naked poison if you choose to, and you can do so without cheap insults or expletives.

You can lay out your argument logically and persuasively, and you don't need to demean yourself in the process.

Would anyone have put down Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" because it was vulgar or rude? Of course not. They would have read until the end, and then, maybe, realized they should be offended. That's what writing is. It's a sleight of hand.

Even with hot-button communication methods like twitter, there's always a hesitation before you press enter; if not, there should be.

What burns me is something my mother has told me again and again: you can be saying the right thing until you're blue in the face, but you have to say it the right way, or no one will listen to you.

It really burns me (every pun intended!) that we really ought to be having a national conversation about HPV; women in this country need objective information about how you get it and what can happen if it goes untreated. But namecalling and saying that "Well I have HPV and cervical cancer and therefore I should have the loudest voice" doesn't help anyone. It just tunes people out, and it makes them less receptive to the facts.

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4 Responses to “ Twitteruption HPV, and A Plea for Sense ”

  1. Totally agree! I am surprised to see it on Twitter. I usually see it on some of my friend's rants on Facebook! However, we try to keep it as civil as possible. After all, it should only be a discussion and not a personal attack of character. 

  2. I'm quite surprised to see it on Twitter as well, especially given that these are long-time users involved. They know their responses are limited to 140 characters, and they still throw around accusations like they're in advanced extemp.

  3. Ha ha.  Your post reminds me of the massive drama we used to see on Livejournal.  Heck, it was so rampant there were entire websites dedicated to massive online brawls.

  4. I know, right! And then, on lj, they started anon pages so they could maintain the abuse without taking credit. (I love lj, but I think it spawned many of the worst characteristics of the internet.)


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