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Don’t quote me
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” — Robert Ingersoll, 1883
I’ve noticed a tendency, particularly among those with large followings online, to turn what should be a conversation into performative abuse.
Let me explain.
One of the characteristics of social media — whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, discussion forums, or even YouTube (the comments there are rarely worth engaging with) — is the ability to leave a comment as part of the flow of conversation.
In other words, you can reply.
And in leaving replies, those beget more replies. Lather, rinse, repeat. And on we go.
But there’s this tendency I’ve noticed that irks me.
When I reply to a tweet (yes, this happens mainly on Twitter, and no, I will not be calling it ‘X’) and the person decides not to reply directly to me below my tweet, but instead quote-tweets me.
This Twitter quote-tweet attack isn’t designed for a regular conversation.
More times than not there’s a power imbalance, where the quoter has more followers than the person they’ve quoted.
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It’s a public shaming, pointing at someone and broadcasting to all of your followers this person is wrong.
I’ve witnessed these attacks firsthand as a victim and an observer, and they’re annoying and sometimes hurtful.
A person tries to have a conversation and instead is ridiculed and digitally hunted down, the quarry of a rabid pack of trolls and feral keyboard commandos.
It’s akin to the way a comedian handles a heckler: the intent is not to have a conversation. The intent is to embarrass and silence the heckler.
Bonus points if you get the audience to turn against the heckler as well.
Some people realize they have an advantage over others by virtue of their position. Access to power, larger and favorable audiences, more resources.
If that’s you, then you might remember the quote-tweet attack mentality.
And instead, consider having conversations that might bring deeper understanding.
Thanks, and I’ll see you on the Internet