You may notice that I don’t have my Twitter link up on my website anymore. I recently decided to get rid of my Twitter account, but that decision has very little to do with Twitter.
I had, for a few months here, been a member of a certain discussion forum online. I’d had hints previously that this particular forum did not really “get” me–hints which I see now I should have taken and quietly made my exit before drama happened. You see, I’m a fairly blunt, intellectual sort of person. A majority of people in the world are “feelers” rather than “thinkers” (I’m using the Meyers-Briggs meaning of those things; it’s one of the four categories that personality test sorts for–they refer to strengths/preferences/dominant qualities; obviously thinkers still feel and feelers still think, as evidenced by the emotional hurt which this event caused me). And just like it’s quite difficult at times to be an introvert in an extrovert culture (America), it is at times quite challenging to be a thinker in a world full of feelers. Especially on the internet. I might say something a bit blunt which another thinking type will understand was meant with no attached negative emotion, but if a feeler hears it, they may think I’m being quite mean. Sometimes in this way I am unintentionally mean. It’s somewhat like with characters such as Sheldon Cooper. When they’re characters on TV shows, people like them and think they’re funny. When you’re like that in real life, people mostly just get offended at a lot of what you say because your social awkwardness makes you blind to potential emotional minefields. In real life, at least people can read your tone of voice. In writing, people will read whatever tone of voice into your words that they want to. And people on the internet often choose to read the most damning possible tone into what other people say.
So. On this forum, I said something which was in no way intended to be offensive but which apparently several people read as such. That is, they missed entirely the point I was actually making and instead chose to read my words in the most offensive possible interpretation. Okay. Up until now, this can all be explained by my just being too blind to the emotional connotations that some people can draw from things others say on the internet. I should have had the social skills to avoid the topic entirely (a topic originally brought up by someone else). I should have remembered that the internet is wide open and I have no idea who I’m talking to when I post something on a forum. That’s my bad.
But when these various people got offended by my words, rather than challenging me in the thread so that I could answer their accusations, clarify my point, or just withdraw my words entirely if it became clear that the point I was making would never be heard by such an audience (as I now suspect to be the case), rather than contacting me privately over PM to challenge me or engage me in some kind of discussion, these various people chose instead to report me to the moderators. Even then, the mods did not contact me about this issue, though they certainly had private discussions with my accusers. They then discussed amongst themselves, deciding to publicly shame me on the forum in a very obvious way, accepting without question that I did indeed mean the offensive thing that I was accused of, and immediately put a moratorium on all further discussion of the matter. Meaning, of course, that by the time I knew people were offended, I was prohibited from saying anything in my own defense.
I contacted one of the mods privately to explain my side of things and raised various points, adding that I was quite hurt by being vilified publicly with no chance to defend myself, clarify my point, or amend my words. The mod’s response was to say that the matter was closed. The mod would not even discuss the issue with me. Their “values” would not change, said the mod. Those values, I learned now too late, apparently did not include such concepts as freedom of speech, innocent until proven guilty, or the right to defend oneself.
So, rather obviously at this point, I decided to remove myself from that forum. But I did learn some lessons from it. Primarily, that the internet is no place for a theoretical, intellectual discussion, and that while people in real life might know me and know that when I say something that may sound mean or too blunt or indelicate, I’m not actually a horrible monster and either I don’t really mean what it sounded to them like I said or that’s just me being socially awkward, on the internet people are inclined to think the worst of you if it allows them to launch a self-righteous attack against a stranger that makes them feel like a valiant defender of all that is right and good.
And that’s why I got rid of my Twitter too. Just in case. To preemptively stop me from accidentally saying something which would get people sending the hounds after me. But I wasn’t really using it that much anyway. If anyone wants to contact me, just send me an email.