Thursday, 24 October 2013

Innocent until reported.

Twitter. I love Twitter. Whatever you call it, I love Twittering, Tweeting and Twatting. Before Twitter all the crazy shit, mad rants and self-depracation stayed inside my skull. That cannot have been healthy.

I've had my Twitter account, @JohnnyBastard, for more than six years now. Initially I used it very infrequently. For the first year or so I couldn't understand the attraction. I struggled to follow what was occurring on my own timeline, got not response to anything I tweeted and seldom received a mention. Then, a couple of years ago, I got hooked. I followed any one that crossed my path, whether I agreed, disagreed, loved or despised their opinions. And guess what? Twitter became a fun place to be. And as my "following" count rose, so did my "follower" count. (I wish they'd not refer to it as "followers", it makes you sound so pretentious when you refer to "my followers". They're not mine, any more than I'm theirs.)

As my count began to surpass those of some minor celebrities I rejoiced. Then, celebrities started following me. The wonderful Mr. @StephenFry being the first. I'm under no illusions though. He didn't follow because he thought I was witty, clever, handsome or erudite. If you follow the logic of Occams Razor then I would say the most likely reason was his accidentally touching the follow button on his iPhone. That aside, I'm still pretty damn chuffed whenever I realise a national treasure of his standing is following.

A few months back I was "FF"'d (To those non-Twits out there, it stands for "follow Friday" and is a way of recommending people to your own followers.) by @REALKathyLloyd. Kathy Lloyd was, when I was younger, a page three model and, without exception, by far my favourite. She took over from Linda Lusardi in my eyes after I had to stop fancying her for being Liverpudlian. A while later I discovered Kathy herself to be Liverpudlian. This led to my stopping disliking my Scouse cousins simply because, well, have you SEEN Kathy Lloyd?

These two events were both massive ego boosts and cemented my love of Twitter. But greater than those, the friends I've met on Twitter and the concern shown by complete strangers during the darker periods of my existence, along with the crazy, slutty or just plain giddy miscreants I encounter whenever I open my Twitter app.

I am a massive advocate of freedom of speech in all things. In my opinion there is no subject, nor is there any opinion, that is taboo or that shouldn't be heard. If we ignore the vile opinions of the few we miss out on putting our opinions to them. If we close down debate we are much poorer for it and vile attitudes based on incomplete data will fester, grow, spread unchallenged and destroy.

Anyone that has followed my Twitter account and actually taken the time to read it properly (Thank you, those that did or do, I appreciate it.) will testify to the fact that I never take offence. People ask me vile questions designed to upset me or enrage me. People attack my attitudes, lifestyle and appearance daily. And, in all those instances, not one shit is given by me. I don't think these people are wrong, stupid or offensive. For the most part I pity them, sat alone in their squalor, only able to feel better about themselves if they can make someone else feel worse. Their actions have caused such misery to some, dare I say it, weaker individuals. Words hurt, I agree, but surely that shouldn't apply to little boxes of up to 140 characters sent anonymously. Twitter is fun, Twitter is Twitter, trolls should be laughed at, not with, or pitied.

Today I awoke and, as ever, stretched my arm across my sleeping partners face to reach my iPhone so I could check my Twitter. I Tweeted some good mornings, read some news and slowly fought off Morpheus' clumsy advances. Then, disaster. My Twitter account has been suspended, and this time (Yes, it's not the first time.) I have absolutely no idea why. Someone, I know not who, has taken offence at something, I know not what, and reported me. Now, I understand that abuse should be reported and that Twitter have a responsibility to be seen to be acting. I understand this. And I hate it. Why? Why are people allowed to complain about something that they CHOSE to become involved in? Twitter is a place to vent, to laugh, to campaign, even to advertise or self-promote. I do all those things and much more. What I have never done, nor ever would do, is trawl the timelines of others to find something to complain about. I see lots on Twitter worthy of complaint. Lots. I even see some stuff worthy of prosecution. But prosecution in real life, not on a bloody social network. It strikes me that one day all justice will be dealt with via the medium, with daily sentencing announced live on the Jeremy Kyle show. A jury of twleve replaced by a jury of millions, "favourite" for guilty, "retweet" for innocent. (Off at a tangent here, but I'd like to take a moment to urge anyone that hasn't already done so to read "Blind Faith" by Mr Ben Elton. A relatively recent publication that seems a little too prophetic for comfort.)

So, here I sit. Bored and awaiting a faceless automaton to decide whether or not I deserve to be able to Tweet about my bowel movements, dog's behaviour and general nonsense to the 27000+ people that have chosen, of their own volition, to follow me, or whether I should have to piss off back to Facebook and look at how cute peoples "lil men" or "princesses" are or "like" something puerile to prove I don't hate children and loved my dead dad, on the behest of an anonymous individual or individuals.

I have a back up account, cleverly named "@johnnybastard2", which I'm forced to use at times like this. It's not the same. In a similar way to the way you see a spider weave a half arsed web to replace the splendid and beautiful piece of work you brushed away yesterday, I just can't be bothered. But this is the problem with Twitter, or at least the anti-free speech zealots that populate certain corners of Twitter. If I was spreading vile hatred, kiddie porn or racism then every time an account was compromised I'd start another and begin upsetting all those that had, quite rightly, blocked and ignored me on the suspended account. The best way to deal with a troll, in my experience, is to playful mock their obvious flaws then move on. I don't even block them, and in many cases I follow them. But I completely disregard any of the shite I see them spout. Give your attention to those that deserve it, bollocks to the rest.

This has been a pointless blog entry. No funny bits, nothing you couldn't have lived without reading. Similar to my Twitter feed. But I've enjoyed wasting my time writing it. Enjoy the little things. S'very important.


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