The Pros and Perils of Twitter

This isn’t going to be a long post, but I just wanted to offer a small comment about the treatment of Caroline Criado-Perez.

Twitter is a great thing. It has brought me into contact with wonderful intelligent funny people because, if I’m honest sometimes I feel a bit intellectually starved where I live at the moment.

Coming from university to just a normal town with nothing special about it, compared to the beauty and grandeur and knowledge that Oxford has to offer was a real culture shock for me, and I’m sorry if that sounds offensive but this is my own blog and I will speak as I wish candidly and honestly as always.

Essentially Twitter is a different ball game to Facebook. As well as the more pithy things like following Justin Bieber, numerous celebrities and finding out what’s going on in the world it’s a great place to meet interesting people.

What I’m trying to say is that since meeting similarly minded women on Twitter, it has kept me moderately sane and less like a fish out of water.

People share knowledge and I can soak it up like a sponge. It makes me think and challenges me as much as any seminar debate. I like arguing, passionately and standing up for the things I believe in. Twitter is the perfect vehicle for this. It’s honing your skills and proving yourself in 140 characters.

But in thinking about the malaise that has engulfed Caroline over the past 48 hours, one cannot help but think of the bad side of Twitter too.

One thing is clear to me. There is no difference for me in the interactions I have with people on Twitter to interactions I have in a real-world environment.

So as I get to know people more emotions start to creep in. Life stories are shared; along with significant events in one’s biography.

So Twitter does not stand alone as a bunch of random people posting on a website. That is why I joined Twitter in the first place. To go back to the feminism I had always loved and enjoyed intellectually, and to be honest I was fed up with only hearing wall-to-wall trans theory, acronyms like TERF were becoming all too common and I wanted to know more and hear the other side of the story.

For women on the radical side of feminism they are suspicious of trans women because many of them have had traumatic backgrounds themselves and see women infiltrating their space rather than being born into it.

But my approach on Twitter has always been a nuanced one. I have never attacked blindly and always listen to the narrative behind what people are saying without privileging my own standpoint. This I believe is the best way to learn and it has proved fruitful.

How does this relate to Caroline Criado-Perez then? Well it’s simple really. I’m a very protective sort of person. I think it stems from the ill-treatment I received from my stepfather. I know what it’s like to have your back against the wall to feel like you’re powerless and to feel like you’re nothing because insidious people, nay, clever people get inside your head and tell you so. I was always very protective of my mother tooand female friends in general.

So it doesn’t take a million mile walk for me to try to empathise with how Caroline must be feeling right now. I just think to myself imagine if that was my mother or sister if I had one. How would I feel?

Well probably not that different to how I feel at the moment incredulous angry and disgusted by what happened.

But that’s the point. I care about the people on Twitter. It has become much more than just a social network to follow celebrities. It has become a place for multifaceted people to hang out and share ideas.

It is also a place where women can gather in numbers and register their disgust. This went beyond simple trolling. These were violent threats.

But a debate has opened up about how widespread this problem is. Caroline is not alone. Many women have come forward and reported that similar things happened to them both historically and in the present day.

So whilst Twitter may have its disadvantages I like Twitter. It has brought me many friends and allies and much moral  support.

More importantly regarding current events  a group of women with individual differences  coalesced  together to campaign for change. I’m glad that happened.


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