June 28, 2011 by Rhi
There’s not many of my real life friends on twitter, and amongst those who are, few of them use the site for the same reason I do. I often tell them about debates I’ve had online, but many of them express disbelief that actual grownups could call other people names from a computer screen. It does all seem a little silly sometimes, but it’s only from watching debates from a neutral standpoint that you can appreciate the hilarity of an irresistible force meeting an immovable object – even on the most high brow of subjects.
I had become a little disillusioned with twitter recently. Now that I’ve got rid of my stalker (or at least, my stalker and hangers on no longer darken my doorstep by tweeting me after every perceived slight), it’s much quieter. I’ve had some really interesting debates on there, with some very clever people. But I’ve realised that, in recent times, my conversations have been with people who are capable of reasoned debate. By reasoned debate, I mean they don’t take the existence of someone with an opposing view as a personal insult.
So to try and encourage my friends who are yet to dip their toe into twitter’s murky green sludge, I decided to have a little trundle through some hashtags relating to recent events, and see what has been said. This has enabled to me to produce a fun guide to the people to avoid when debating stuff on twitter. Those whose language skills often run out before their ire does. Basically, this is how the crazies talk. Here’s the rundown of my top “Look Out, They’re Bonkers” lines.
#1 – They Say:
“@xyz is quite clearly mistaken. See my blog here: bitly.com/imsoclever @bob, @guardian. @bbc, @theworldandhisfeckingwife”
I’ve got a bee in my bonnet, and I want to increase the hits on my blog. Because I have self worth issues, and knowing people read my warblings makes me feel more intelligent.
I’m not talking about someone flagging up a new blog post, or even responding to the writings of someone else. This is someone writing something, and then tweeting it to randomly connected twitter users, in the vain hope someone will take notice of them. Even though they’re just a pocket politico with a chip on both shoulders.
#2 – They Say:
“@abc. Have you SEEN what @lmnop has been saying? Don’t know where to start! LOL!”
I’m getting my arse handed to me on a plate, please come help.
This is basically the twitter equivalent of a tag out.
#3 – They Say:
“@wxyz – you clearly misunderstand me. It’s more nuanced that.”
I’ve painted myself into a corner, and I’m trying to make you think I haven’t said what I actually did say, by passing the buck of comprehension onto the reader, rather than taking responsibility for my own lack of clear English. Plus nuanced makes me sound dead smart.
This is also linked to the twitter adage “Tweet in haste, regret for the next 24 hours as much cleverer people line up to tear apart your argument”.
#4 – They Say
“Am very fed up of ad hominem attacks here. Engage with my argument, people?”
I haven’t yet worked out that the reason people often argue with me is because I express abhorrent views.
My own experience is that people who litter their ripostes with the phrase “ad homs”, don’t actually understand the proper meaning of the phrase. Know that, and you’ve got them by the short and curlies.
#5 – They Say:
“My *** has nothing to do with this.”
Hey buddy – only I get to choose whether I can use my personal circumstances to further my point or elicit sympathy from bystanders when I can’t think of anything else to say.
Subjects which induce the rage include children (or lack of them), personal income, private education, or anything which highlights the real reason why someone is taking a particular angle on a subject.
#6 – They Say:
“LOL @ Honey Sundial/ Hari/@pennyred in the Grauniad today. Such poor writing. Don’t know why people keep commissioning them, tbh”
*fume* I can’t understand why the Guardian don’t ask me to write for them. I’m clever. I’m dead clever.
This one pisses me off A LOT. If you’re going to debate with someone, you have to approach with a level of mutual respect. If you’re going to take the piss out of someone’s fucking NAME before you even BEGIN to engage with his/her opinions – that’s playground stuff, kids. Play nice, and try to show some intellect. If you haven’t got anything better than a name pun to kick off with, I’m going to assume you have the brain of a 10 year old.
#7 – They Say:
“Read my newest piece of comment here – http://www.onlinepolikstuff.net/cleverbitwithchartsnstuff”
I’m a real serious writer, look. People listen to what I’ve got to say. YOU SHOULD LISTEN! LISTEN DAMN YOU! I’M RIGHT!
There are lots and lots of websites out there. A lot of them take stuff from anyone. By all means, you should be extremely proud of your achievement. But, there’s not often a lot of editorial involved – beyond the basic “is this going to get us sued?” Seeing it in writing outside your own blog, does not automatically put you above others. A little humility goes a long way when you want people to actually listen to what you’re saying.
#8 – They Say
“Go away, I’m bored with you now. I’ve got no time for flamers. You are trolling my feed just looking for things to complain about”
I have absolutely nothing to offer in terms of being able to rebuff your argument. Stop being mean to me, you nasty person, you.
Many MANY tweeters who bite off more than they can chew eventually accuse people of being flamers. For the record, a flamer is not someone who merely takes you to task for expressing a poorly realised opinion. That’s called debate. Or sometimes whipping your ass. Just saying…
This is by no means an exhaustive list; I’m sure there’s plenty that people can think of to add. Any of these phrases flag up a massive AVOID button over that user when I’m watching hashtags. There’s a real joy in debating an interesting issue with someone who obviously knows their stuff. Debating with someone who takes your disagreement as a personal insult, amusing though it may be for a short time, will inevitably end with them watching your feed with eagle eyes, and popping up at the most inopportune moments to scream at you for hours. They often bring “friends” with them, to fill your mentions feed with apoplectic jibberish and use your refusal to give a shit as evidence of weakness. They are, in short, a Qwerty short of a keyboard.
Twitter is the place where I go to have fun, talk to people, and read some exceptionally clever people explaining things that I’m too slow to pick up – and also to call people out when I think they’re in the wrong. Avoid the people who speak twitter-ese, and you’ll have much more fun.