Friday, June 08, 2012
I'm gonna sound like a huge dick here for a few minutes -- and considering that I usually sound kind of like a dick but don't actually acknowledge it you can get an idea just how dickish I'm probably gonna be. You've been warned.
What with the backlash I've gotten over the last few days to my thoughts on marijuana legalization and the people who vociferously advocate for it -- making it a priority in their lives, basing their identity around it and hinging their vote on it at the exclusion of all else -- I figure now's as good a time as any to make clear my thoughts on Twitter. Hold on -- it'll make sense in a minute.
As usual, at lot of the reaction to the various pieces I've written lately has come by way of indignant tweets aimed in my direction, many of which I assume have been fired off in the hope of dragging me into a 140-character-at-a-time debate on the subject. I don't need to tell you that this is the way it works these days: You say something that somebody doesn't like; it catches the attention of a couple more people; they tell some friends or followers and the clouds suddenly light up and UFOs swarm down on top of you like in the final scenes of Close Encounters. No matter the subject, although particularly when it comes to politics, an opinion or two fired off via a blog post or otherwise published piece can immediately turn into a lengthy back-and-forth with people you've never met but who can't wait to tear your fucking head off in broken English because they have to keep it short in order to conform to Twitter's limited format.
Worst of all, there's generally a 99.9% chance that, since you took some time to formulate the views that you wrote out at length and the person pelting you with criticism obviously feels really strongly about his or her own views, in the end nobody's gonna budge and it's going to essentially come down to two idiots bitching at each other online, ad infinitum. Bottom line: For me, when it comes to disagreements, Twitter isn't the place for a decent debate of the issues -- it's a place to engage in an often meaningless and petty online "shouting match," one where very little progress is ever made and almost nothing ever gets resolved.
So with that in mind, I'm gonna put something in writing here that I've said on the podcast a couple of times and have let outraged critics know in 140-characters or less more than a few times: I don't get into Twitter battles. You disagree with something I have to say and want to let me know it? Feel free to fire away, but don't expect me to respond. I have a life and don't have time to get bogged down defending a point of view that I'm pretty sure I made clear from the get-go and have generally taken a good long time to consider and reconsider. I'm not saying that others won't have excellent counterpoints to my own and that they might provide me with a few things worth thinking about, but I'm not going to discuss those points at length on a platform as restrictive as Twitter. It just isn't worth my time.
Also, please keep in mind that just because I write something in an extended piece that you don't like, and I happen to have a Twitter account, it doesn't mean that I'm required to make myself available to you -- whom I pretty much guarantee I don't even know -- to address your concerns and defend my opinion 24/7. No, you're not entitled to my time just because I have an online presence and you have a bone to pick.
Now, if because of my unwillingness to play defense to your satisfaction and at your whim you feel like I'm some kind of intellectual lightweight or coward -- because you of course have that one special bit of logic and wisdom to impart that's going to make the house of cards that is my argument fall apart -- I can live with that. Again, there's a pretty good chance that I don't even know you and an even better chance that you're laboring under the entirely faulty assumption that I want to know you and believe that you're someone whose opinion I really need to take seriously. So, hey, if you want to turn around and tell the 500 people who follow you on Twitter -- the ones whose split-second decision to click your name with a mouse validates your sense of self-importance -- that you won the fight with the big, bad blowhard because he refused to get into it with you, thereby proving that you were right all along, have at it. I literally could not care less what you think of me.
I'm often happy to talk to people on Twitter, but I'm not required to do it -- particularly not with pissed-off people I don't know who just want to scrap and who will very likely be RTing my responses to their friends in order to get them into the fray, the digital version of calling in reinforcements and getting your friends to fight for you. There's nothing dumber than a Twitter feud -- which is why I don't get into them.
I hate to drop another sci-fi movie reference, but a Twitter fight is usually a futile game of tic-tac-toe -- and as we know, Joshua, when it comes to tic-tac-toe the only winning move is not to play.