I Fight For The Users

Just dropped in, wondering what you were up to.

I find this discussion fascinating, because my main problem with Twitter is the fact that the short messages, chopping and changing of subjects turns my brain into a lazy and fickle lard-bucket. If I start reading a book, it’s whispering to me “hey, this is boring, I keep having to concentrate on the same thing!”

But that’s not a Twitter problem, it’s just a problem with small screens (I suspect).

Having discussions like this, on a screen where I can see more than a sentence at a time, where people have/take the time to lay out thoughts rather than soundbites is vastly superior, and more healthy for my brain.

In your list of historic ‘new’ communication mediums, Jeff, you forgot ‘pamphleteering’: which was the publishing of often highly inflammatory and political unbound printed booklets. So it’s not really that new.

What is new is the apparent lack of robustness to conflicting ideas. This idea that we need, or that other people (stupider or weaker than us?) need protecting from ideas we don’t like. Because “people saying nasty things” can be interpreted as “people insulting me”, but also as “people saying things I don’t like”. But those are two very different propositions. To me, at least.

I confess that I sometimes wonder whether people going on about Twitter and Musk are actually basing their opinions on their own direct experience, or whether it’s more based on second-hand reported ‘horrors’. On Twitter, I see what appear to me to be highly antisemitic takes (though, with the current redefinition of what that word means in the Gaza conflict, maybe they’re not), but that’s because I’ve deliberately tried to follow people who’s opinions I don’t like (at all, in some cases), to avoid being in an echo chamber. When I see stuff I think is actually out of line (like incitement), I flag it. But that’s happening less and less.

What I really don’t want is anonymous bien-pensant moderation (and ‘fact-checking’. During COVID, there were people who were censored for opinions or even for the ‘wrong’ science, and only now, 4 years later, we discover (surprise!) that maybe - just maybe - they weren’t just not wrong, but very right. If the right (but unpopular, or just not widely accepted) ideas are suppressed, how do we work towards the truth? Yes, we may be taken in by lies. Yes, there are ‘uneducated’ people who may end up believing the earth is flat (though, of all the wacky beliefs, that is probably the most practically harmless you could think of), but the alternatives are worse.

And even if it was the case that a high-functioning-possibly-autistic-billionaire was pulling all the strings (which I don’t believe is the case), I far prefer that to the faceless blob from before, where information and accounts just disappeared, and you didn’t even know it was happening. There is information available on Twitter that the other media just don’t show.

What I would like to get away from is the sterile adolescent point-scoring bickering between opposing ‘teams’. But that has been happening forever (when I started my first Discourse community, I had to explicitly sell it as “this is not a forum”), and some people just have trouble growing up, out of their egos, and into an actual desire to communicate and understand, rather than “win arguments”.

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