This editorial by Caitlin Moran both informed me about the idea of a Twitter walk-out tomorrow, and convinced me to participate. It’s obviously a complex issue, which I plan to delve into more tomorrow, and I’ve heard good arguments for and against the twitter silence. Moran says “I’m pro the mooted 24-hour walk-out on 4th of August, because not only is it a symbolic act of solidarity – which are my favourite kinds of symbolic acts – but because it will also focus minds at Twitter to come up with their own solution to the abuses of their private company.” I really like this second point, and I’m going to get back to it later.
The argument against the Twitter walk-out that’s most meaningful to me revolves around the concept of silencing people/being silenced. The way I feel about that is twofold: one, I am choosing to be silent to send a message, and two, I am moving the discussion to other platforms (not just shutting up). I like Twitter for a lot of reasons, and understand its importance in social and political movements. But. I have a hard time expressing myself adequately through Twitter, and enjoy more in-depth discussions than Twitter lends itself to. Here, I can explain myself fully and respond at length to comments. There, I end up implying things I don’t mean and not thinking before I reply. I don’t feel that abstaining from Twitter necessarily makes me more silent. In this case I think it will effectively make me louder.
The part that sealed the deal for me to walk out is Moran’s point that “Criado-Perez, and anyone else like her, shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of thing on their own.” Even with Twitter feminists rallied around her, she is fighting alone in a way. She may have rightness and the law on her side, but she doesn’t have any enforcement on her side. (Excepting the police, who made one arrest, which is amazing but just a drop in the bucket.) Twitter has said, “You’re on your own. Block anyone you don’t like.” Twitter has made the choice to be a platform where anyone can do anything, which is their decision to make. But I think it’s a shitty one. I’d rather have a platform with respectful discussions that blocks hateful spam. Maybe this walk-out will make Twitter execs think about their policies and consider disallowing spam. Or maybe we’ll find a less spammy platform. At the very least, we’re all talking about it.