Martin Robbins asks what is it about the internet that turns people into massive dicks?, and highlights one of the issues with Twitter I’ve mentioned in an earlier post.
Think of playground bullying, for example – there’s a massive difference between a child calling another child a dick and a hundred children standing around one child shouting, “You’re a dick!”
To be blunt, Twitter doesn’t scale. It wasn’t designed for people to make tens of thousands of connections, and I’m not entirely convinced that the humans using it were either – not without some strategy to cope with it all.
There isn’t an easy solution, and I hope that Twitter will find away to prevent harassment of individuals without removing the ability of ordinary people to speak truth to power. We should not allow trolls to be used as a stalking horse for much broader restrictions on political dissent. This is especially pertinent once David Cameron and the UK tabloid press jump on the bandwagon. That’s the point where we need to be extra vigilant about the direction in which the bandwagon starts heading.
There are wider social issues as well.
It also runs afoul of the completely ****ed up relationship our society has with celebrity. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen it argued that people with a decent follower account should be expected to “take it”, as a sort of penalty for being popular.
Which also make me wonder how much reality TV such as The Apprentice or X-Factor, or the cruelty-based nature of some so-called “comedy” (I’m thinking of that Russell Brand prank phone call incident a while ago) feeds the idea that it’s acceptable to be abusive to complete strangers.