This is our truth, tell us yours
Anyone who follows me on twitter will know I over tweet. I keep meaning to go on less, but as sins go, it’s not the worst. I don’t like much TV and would rather talk to interesting people around the world. This habit developed in internet chat rooms, where not only could I indulge my penchant for exhibitionism but waste hours online when other people were watching Britains worst whatevers.
For anyone familiar with chatrooms twitter is a breeze. There are the stars, the people who everyone wants attention from the second they log in. You might be surprised that these are not always the most attractive, or most naked women. Wit is always a deciding factor, along with having something to say. Twitter is pretty much the same. People will have huge rows supporting their stars, and strong feelings about whether they deserve their status or not.
Then there are those who are filthy on cam, whose devoted admirers will flock to them the moment they appear, I confess I was probably in that group, even whilst I hoped people were more interested in my jokes than the fact I usually ended up putting on a cam show before the night was over. The people I made friends with were the ones who liked the fact I was naked, filthy and made bad jokes. Twitter of course does not have cams, but there are no shortage of accounts that mix filth, flirting and words to make you aroused. That so many seem oblivious to the fact that more people share porn on twitter than follow Stephen Fry amuses me no end.
Just like twitter chatrooms can provide a sense of community, especially for those who are isolated. I know people with disabilities, with mental health problems, with young children, with no money, who were able to have human contact via the room. They were offered a vital lifeline when the world outside was too much to deal with.
And of course there were those who delighted in abuse. I have lost count of the number of times a woman has been on cam and some arsegrape has appeared to tell her she is too fat, too old, too non conventional looking to be attractive. A fact the evidence always disproves, as the majority in the men in the room are watching, and pleasuring themselves, over her cam. The need to abuse is strong in some, so strong they risk bans and now it seems prosecution simply to make a woman feel bad about herself. Of course a sexual woman, enjoying her sexuality is the biggest threat possible to these men.
This is where the comparison breaks down. Watching an entire room give one of these guys a cyber kicking is a thing of beauty. The woman would be supported, the abuser treated with the contempt he deserved and a feeling of support and solidarity would fill us all. Shared values were of course at the core of this. Swinging may have its flaws, but it also has some wonderful pluses, and an openness about sex combined with the least fat shaming culture I have ever been in are two major ones. Twitter has no such universal values.
Some seem to believe it should, this is what lies behind demands for an instant report button and terms of service that ban whatever they personally disapprove of. There is no universal thing that bands all twitter users together though, to claim so is to ignore the strength of twitter as a social network. I dont cam anymore because I got bored with the predictability of it. Thats what happens when you have a small self selecting group of people meeting in the same space every night. Twitter ranges across borders, both internal and external. I meet people who in the real world I would never have shared a conversation with, the downside is the abusers are part of that space.
So what can we do if turning twitter into a chatroom moderated by the most censorious would destroy whatever value it has? We can do as we did in the chat rooms. We can offer love and support to those attacked, we can take on the bullies ourselves and most of all we can remember there is something incredibly sad in someone whose point for logging on is to try and hurt other people.
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