You Can Always Find A Couple Of Assholes On Twitter

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 10.854% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

Here’s a “news” story I despise:
1)  A Newsworthy Event happens.
2)  Intrepid Journalist goes out onto Twitter to hunt for the dumbest, most upsetting reactions possible.
3)  A clickbait article then presents these Twitter reactions, going, “PEOPLE HOLD HATEFUL OPINIONS LOOK AT HOW STUPID THEY ARE.”
Look. There’s lots of places that do genuinely attract cesspools of hateful reactions – had to shut down comments on Tamir Rice news articles after being swamped with racist assholes, and certainly if you look through Anita Sarkeesian’s @-replies you’ll find tons of loathesome sexist comments.
But this is a big world, guys.
Even when 99.9% of the world agrees this is fucking awesome, there’s always going to be a handful of douches who react like a fucking moron to any news story.
And I think making a habit of seeking out the twenty dickwads in order to engineer rageclicks actually hurts us. I think it’s a variant on the “local news” segment, where reporters go around finding every break-in and mugging and car accident and report it until people feel like they’re under siege in their own homes, even in a safe suburban town.
There are incidents that indicate a genuine outswelling of distressing behavior, of course – but those are because there’s hundreds of thousands of people, say, believing Trump’s lies that “thousands” of mythical New Jersey Muslims were cheering on 9/11.
But there’s also news stories where 99% of the population goes, “Eh, no big whoop” – and these clickfuckers go out searching for the dumbest, most racist/sexist/homophobic reactions because they know you’ll get pissed.  And I think if you treat these clickbait articles as though they reflect real life, like Fox gins up the terror of Muslims, you become convinced the world is out to getcha, when in reality it’s probably the same massively overwhelmed and outvoted segment of the population expressing some opinions their Facebook friends would probably consider douchey.
(And it’s also impossible, out of context, to know how many of those people were trolling.  There was a lot of baby boomer outrage when Paul McCartney played with Kanye West and folks went, “Who’s that old dude?” – and at least some of those accounts were purposely trying to piss off people.  Not that there’s anything wrong with a seventeen-year-old kid not knowing who Paul McCartney is anyway.)
And I think that the “find the douchebags” game presents a burn-n-slash presentation of “winning” – because it implies if you can find one moron shouting out in the wilderness, we have yet to achieve victory.
Which is never going to happen.  That goal implies a thoroughly Orwellian world, and it’s the same world where fundamentalists think they can make every single person love Jesus.  Humanity is messy, and sloppy, and it is impossible to get everyone believing what you do, no matter how noble you believe your cause is.  It just doesn’t happen. It never has happened.  There will always be dissent.
The best that rationally happens is to have these people so overwhelmingly outnumbered that they’re not taken seriously.  Sure, there’s always gonna be some idiot who thinks the world is ruled by snake people – and you can find their Twitter, too! – but that guy’s never gonna muster voters into overthrowing the snake people, his core values are never gonna be taken seriously by the press, he’s never gonna live his dreams.
He’ll find a cluster of snake-people-haters online, and he’ll be thoroughly convinced he’s right, and nobody else will care.
That is victory.
And like I said, because people tend to get pissy about these things and then shut down their reading comprehension, I’m not discussing stuff where there are thousands of responses and people polling significant digits in the populations and elections at stake.
But there are also issues where really, pretty much everybody’s like “Yeah, whatever” except for this handful of idiots.  And if you shine a light on these idiots, then suddenly people feel like they have to have opinions, and you get a ginned-up wellspring of idiocy like The Starbucks Cup controversy, where nobody fucking cared until people realized you might be pissed off about it, and they found That One Moron, and then it became a Cultural Issue where morons started climbing aboard because hey, if liberals are against it then I must be for it…
And realistically, what happened was that websites converted your outrage into advertising dollars, and you felt like the world was full of maniacs, and the truth was that there were like six maniacs total, living out where nobody cared, until people hunted them down to scare you.
And sure.  Those maniacs exist.  But they didn’t have any real power.  And blowing them up into the Next Big Assault makes it seem like you’re continually under siege, and it blends into the real sieges, and the next thing you know you’re as paranoid as a Fox News viewer.
So yeah.  Not a fan.

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