“Weird Twitter” art experiment method notes and observations
by Sebastian Benthall
First, I got to say: Weird twitter definitely exists, and it is bigger and weirder than I imagined.
I want to write up some notes on my methodology for determining this, but I feel like some self-disclosure is in order.
I’m a PhD student with research interests that include community formation on the internet and collective intelligence. I’ve been studying theories about how communities establish their boundaries using symbols, and am also interested in “collective sensemaking.”
I am 27 years old and have been on the internet for long enough to know what I’m doing. I am really into conceptual art.
I’ve been aware of what I’ve referred to as “weird twitter” for some time, and have been curious what’s going on. I love it and love that it exists. But I didn’t know if it was real, or just something I was peripherally aware of because I followed a few people. It was much, much deeper than I had the patience to venture into at the time, but I had no sense of its scale.
Unfortunately, doing analysis on a gigantic unstructured digital social network turns out to be one of the big challenges of contemporary social science research. You either need to slurp a lot of data into something that crunches numbers, or you have to painstakingly research individuals in a tedious way that is not going to give you any general results on the scale necessary for this problem. So I tried a new method.
This method, which I don’t have a good name for, is basically: call it names, and see if it answers back. In other words, trolling.
I did this in August on a lark.
That post was an experiment.
- Suppose “weird twitter” did not exist. Then there would be no reason for anybody to identify with its content. It would be a blog post lost in obscurity, like most of my blog posts.
- But if “weird twitter” did exist, then there was a chance that it would react to its label in a statistically significant way.
I’ll adopt some speculative language for a moment: what if “weird twitter” were a kind of collective intelligence? Is it self-aware?
There are many theories of how self-awareness arises. Some believe that a person’s self-awareness depends on their interacting socially with others. It will not be a self until it is treated like a self. Until then, it will exist in some pre-conscious, animal state.
Others have argued that the Internet is creating a “global brain” of collective intelligence. This raises questions implicated by but far more interesting than the question of whether “corporations are people”. In what ways can a collection of people be a person? Do they need to self-identify as a community before that happens?
So many interesting questions.
Of course, if it were true that “weird twitter” were just a bunch of people telling jokes, and not a community, identity, culture, or collective intelligence, then a blog post about them would be meaningless and ephemeral.
For fun, I made the post extra obtuse.
I should say: “Weird twitter” seemed like a fun bunch, mostly just a bunch of jokers who don’t take things too seriously. So there was no way such a post would be taken seriously unless, well, I was wrong, and some people took it very, very seriously.
I have never gotten more hate spam in my life. Holy crap.
It is a really good thing I have a thick skin, because the amount of abuse I’ve put up with in the past 48 hours has been intense. There has also been a pretty epic amount of disdain and even a little attempted character assassination….
A note about this:
Ok, I need to address this directly, partly because it is the sort of thing that can really ruin ones reputation, and partly because I think it raises some pretty interesting questions on feminism on the internet.
Kimmy (@aRealLiveGhost) is a talented poet whose work I generally like and have recommended to others who appreciate poetry. (Think her reconfigurations of @horse_ebooks tweets are her best work.) As far as I know, she got her start just tweeting authentically. At some point, she started posting pictures of herself along with her poetry. She also seemed alarmed by the number of followers she was getting.
That was in January, which was before she was a minor internet celebrity with thousands of followers. However, one source (see comments to this post) has noted considerable overlap between “weird twitter” and the feminist twitter landscape. In light of this whole art project/experiment thing, Kimmy referred to that tweet, which generated some discussion.
As I’ve learned, this comment bothered Kimmy, and I’ve apologized. As I’ve explained, my intention was to point out that there might be some connection between (especially a woman) posting cute pictures of herself on the internet and her suddenly getting a lot of attention on the internet. The recent Violentacrez scandal highlights the extremes of this, and why I might be concerned on her behalf.
This comment, which some have called “anti-woman”, has been variously interpreted as:
- “mansplaining”, presumably because I should know already that all women on the internet know that putting cute pictures of themselves will get them a lot of attention/followers/whatever.
- insinuating that Kimmy’s success (in terms of Twitter followers I guess?) is undeserved or only because she put pictures of herself on the internet.
I take feminism rather seriously and so I found these accusations pretty hurtful, actually. But then I thought about it and realized that taken together, they make no sense. So, I’m over it.
EDIT: In the ensuing discussion over this, I’ve learned a lot about how feminists think about this comment. It’s reasonable for women to suspect that somebody making such a comment has hostile or demeaning intentions, and that problem is especially exacerbated in low-bandwidth computer mediated communication such as Twitter, where so much is left to interpretation. I regret saying it.
In other words, the experiment was a wild success in terms of generating a significant reaction. However, the results coming in were literally all over the map: random hate, denial that the phenomenon existed, direct confirmation that the phenomenon existed, questioning of the meaning of it. A surprising number of people telling me I had “ruined” something, or “didn’t get” something.
Basically, there was every possible angle of existential crisis represented in the response from the collective consciousness of weird twitter.
Or maybe subconscious. Some people on Twitter seem to see it as primarily an expression of the subconscious. Which would explain why it hates getting called out so much.
These results were nonetheless inconclusive. Weird twitter was being awakened from its subconscious, unreflective slumber. So I gave it a kick.
This post was of course the kind of postmodern ironic half-joke that seems to be so characteristic of “weird twitter” but I guess it went over the heads of a lot of people.
There’s a legitimate concern here that this post involved what the academic and mainstream press has termed “cyberbullying”. But I made a calculated decision that people who were actively being dickish about the whole thing to me directly were asking for it and could handle being made fun of. In case anyone else was concerned (one person who contacted me was), I spoke with@bugbucket and @hellhomer and we’re cool.
The point of the second post was:
- As a measurement instrument. I had a good indication that Weird Twitter really did exist. But how big is it? I’ve got analytics set up, and figured there was no reason for somebody who wasn’t part of weird twitter to want to read a post about weird twitter. This would give a rough order of magnitude estimate at least.
- To test the theory that an on-line community exists partly by negotiating its own symbolic boundaries, and to see if it would achieve self-consciousness if pressed on the issue.
- To generate more data about digital communities reacting to external reification. The nice thing about all this is that Twitter stores probably 99% of all the relevant communication for this kind of identity formation process (or the failure of it), so at some point somebody might dig it up and check it out in more detail.
In case you are wondering, if you were to ask me “How many people do you think are part of Weird Twitter?”, I’d now say “about 3,000”, if you operationalize “weird twitter” as “the number of people who care enough about being called out as Weird Twitter to read an article about it”. There may, of course, be multiple or overlapping weird twitters. Maybe other parts of the “weird twitter” landscape could be identified by referring to other patterns of behavior. (Maybe there’s a weird twitter that tells completely different jokes than the ones identified in the original post) Perhaps this only got to the most sensitive or curious bunch, those that actively click links. There’s also no accounting for factors like time zone.
Really the next thing to do would be to try to map out the actual social network structure.
Qualitatively, there were a lot of interesting reactions and questions raised in this process. I want to note them here before I forget:
- Because of the tone of the initial post, I was estimated to be older than I am, and I got some criticism that I was some weird old guy invading somebody else’s space. One person, presumably a teenager, tweeting angrily that I was exploiting teenagers.
- Lots of people reacted to the feeling of being watched or categorized. That’s ironic, because what people post on Twitter is openly available, and many of the members of this community of literally thousands of “followers”. And, Twitter data as a whole is being slurped and analyzed and categorized all the time algorithmically for research and marketing purposes. The amount of outrage created by a blog post that WASN’T based on observation of most of the system suggests that people in Weird Twitter really don’t get this.
- One of the smartest response I saw was somebody who suggested making their posts more private to avoid having them looked at by people like me. Yes, that is correct. I was pulling a prank on you. I am the least of your problems.
- Those who I guess you could call the “thought leaders” in the Weird Twitter community are experts at managing information flow. While several members of the community passed around links to my post directly, others were quite deliberate in posting links to images that would not be traced back here. My favorite posts were those that obliquely acknowledged there was a controversy going on with no navigable links at all.
- I was definitely “othered” throughout the whole process, despite the fact that I’ve been using Twitter and interacting with a few of the members of this community in a peripheral way for a while, and the claims by some of its members that it’s just a community of people making jokes than anyone can join. (If it is the latter, then I declare myself a member.) Since its central members appear to have more followers than they can keep track of, it’s not surprising that they would see me as an outsider, especially given the estranged language and alternative platform of the blog post. @hellhomer‘s observations that I was unqualified to comment on the community because I only shared a small number of connections was evidence that online community membership can be operationalized as membership in a quasi-clique structure.
- A lot of people assumed I’m planning on writing an academic article about this, and thought that would be exploitative. In reality, I think there’s no way in hell I would get this past the IRB. This was performance art. Y’all are suckers. Funniest were the people that got on my case about the flimsiness of my analysis or research methods. Funniest was the person that told me I really ought to be referencing Bruno Latour.
- But, one day yeah maybe I’ll write an article about Weird Twitter. Obviously I’d go about it totally differently, though I might start with leads I’ve gotten through this project. I do believe that the best way to study radically transparent on-line communities is through radically transparent research (thanks Mel for introducing me to this term), which this experiment was an exercise in.
- Who the hell posted this quora post on weird twitter? What’s their angle? Their insight that Weird Twitter is like the /b/ of Twitter is a bold claim, because fewer communities have had an impact on internet culture as great at /b/. Have any significant memes originated in Weird Twitter and escaped into the wild? Unclear. Are there other, similarly creative and unregulated pseudonymous communities in other social media?
- I’ve been asked by one tweeter to ‘please explore the carefucker vs jokeman split amongst “weird twitter”‘. That is a useful research lead if I’ve ever seen one. “Carefucker” has not yet hit Urban Dictionary, but I guess the term is self-explanatory. Ironically, in my observations the most polished “jokemen” were also the most strategic and guarded about their references to being labeled, while the most authentically absurd appeared to be “carefucking”. I suspect that some folks were trying hard to be cool.
- A significant portion of the reactions were people upset that I had “ruined” their “thing”, that thing which may or may not be weird twitter. If I had to guess, this is due to the perception that blog posts are less ephemeral than tweets, which is true, but also the illusion that what is phenomenologically ephemeral for them isn’t permanent in fact. As I said in my second post, there’s a weird power dynamic at work between blogs and tweets. But this is absurd. Because, if your attention span has been trained on blogs and not tweets, you realize that blog posts, too, are historically ephemeral. Most of the traffic to this post has been from Twitter itself. It is an artifact produced by Weird Twitter, not (as it has been accused of being) a voyeuristic or surveilling observation made on it from without. If this post has any significance within the history of that community, it will only be because the community’s consciousness of itself lead to a kind of dissolution (or suicide), or because its significance has outshone its containment within Twitter itself. Only time will tell on that one.
- I have heard a lot of complaints about the prominence of internet trolls sending death threats to especially feminist bloggers. I find that really interesting, because I generally appreciate feminists and and do some research on internet security. It was pretty shocking how much vitriol I got exposed to for writing a blog post describing an internet community that maybe didn’t exist. I’ve assumed for the purpose of writing this that those people who attacked me were somehow motivated by anger at the blog post. But wouldn’t that be completely batshit? I mean, look at that first blog post. It’s dumb. I have an alternative theory, which is that there is a population on the internet that opportunistically hates on anybody who they think they can get away with hating on. This is a testable hypothesis, which if true would simplify the problem of cleaning up the mess. If hate speech on the internet were considered less a political issue and more an issue like spam detection and removal, I think the Internet would be a better place.
If you’ve read this far, then thank you for your interest. I’ve found this a very rewarding and insightful experience, and I hope you have gotten something out of it as well.
things yo just don’t get.
“weird twitter” hecka overlap with maotwit and feminist twttier. So your comments to kimmy about “post cute pics” generates immediate hostility. Was rude and not in some achewoodian sense of the term.
hecka twerts in the twert liife ID “cool teen” as a lifestyle signifier rather than a strict age group. This is largely pejorative, but nonetheless many weird twerts will have their own “cool teen” groove despite being older than you. You ain’t know about cool teen speaks volumes, son. VOLUMES
Thanks for explaining that. It may shock you, but I have never been a “cool teen” in my life. Thank you for explaining that “cool teen” is a lifestyle signifier that is fascinating.
I got it instantly, Seb — maybe it’s because I know you, but within the first paragraph or two it was obvious to me that you were putting on a persona: obtuse, jargony, thinks-they’re-insightful-but-is-really-not-that-self-aware pseudointellectual satirical parody of the things we both don’t like about academia. Reminded me a bit of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” (sans proposal) and made me chuckle.
Nicely done. And a nice writeup here of the many little complex threads that can weave into and pull out of this piece of performance art. It’s complicated and it can be serious, but… really, I think it’s just a lot of fun to watch. (Yep, not going in for IRB on this one!)
Thanks for that.
“I’ve assumed for the purpose of writing this that those people who attacked me were somehow motivated by anger at the blog post. But wouldn’t that be completely batshit? I mean, look at that first blog post. It’s dumb.”
I think that explains approximately 100% of the anger you received. It doesn’t help that you singled out a set of twats who clearly identify at the very least as exactly the type of people who would think that research like the type you describe here and conclusions that could be drawn from such research are, at best, alienating & wrong, and at worst, counterproductive & violent.
I’m not totally sure you got it. 8================D——–O;
I’ve noticed a lot of the vitriol you got was over implying a woman’s “cute pics” got her followers. and that is where the distinction between carefucker and jokeman lies. you got that one completely wrong. the “carefuckers” or “carecrew” (of which I’m nominally a part of tho I have some divergent views) are basically an ultraprogressive wing of weird twit that goes after people for making rape jokes, antiwoman jokes, racist jokes, etc, and generally have progressive liberal mindsets, though most of their tweets tend to be surrealist humor. (an interesting result is many will troll those special kinds of online atheist with sexist, racist views or just more concerned with the privileged position of atheism over more important social issues, even in spite of most of us being atheist ourselves.) so that’s part of the reason you got so much vitriol for your perceived anti-woman remarks. Anyway, i’ll leave it to you to sort out the rest
Thanks for explaining that. Very helpful. I’ve edited the post to address the issue with kimmy in more detail.
I love how the “ultra progressives” go after people who say the wrong things. At one point in time being progressive meant taking risks. Now it means turning the whole world in to a safe space so the wymyn can feel comfortable sharing their feewings. Such sensitive poor things, these girl power-fed females.
I wonder if they’ll ever figure out their strident tone of self-righteousness is at least twice as offensive as anything they might be harping about.
In the next 20 years, we’re going to realize the only material contribution feminism has made to civilization is complaining. Complaining and living in fear are the two modes of experience of the human female. Either they are terrified, or they are complaining about the possibility they might be terrified, or just complaining about how messy the garage is. Nowhere in this equation does the female actually invent anything.
To put it in computer terms.
Males build the kernel, and females add comments to the source code.
Or, males build Facebook, and females fill it up with their duck faces.
Or, males build Twitter, and females fill it up with politically correct surrealist /b/ retread.
That is a fat load of cockvommit.
Oh, ho hum, thanks for the mansplaining! What EVER would people born with vaginas do without you?
Come on, this is getting so absurd. You’ve taken a totally flawed initial premise “I said something exists. People got upset and said it doesn’t exist, whereas if it didn’t exist no one would have said anything. Thus, it exists”. Now you are patting yourself on the back again as if your thesis has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt, and even giving yourself extra bonus points (“it definitely exists, and it’s way bigger than I ever imagined!”), then proceeding to run wild with your assumptions using some completely bogus and pseudoscientific data analysis. This is a great example of why social sciences are lampooned by other disciplines: their tendency to take extremely subjective assumptions and use biased statistical research to validate these assumptions and make them look objective. You are once again shamefully using academic trappings to legitimate a completely illegitimate exercise, and one that has been the modus operandi of internet trolls since the medium was invented: “I made people mad on the internet, ipso facto I am right”. When what you’ve written is stripped of all its intellectual posturing that is what we are left with, and it’s pretty sad.
<3 soulmate <3
seriousli lets meet up & tuch dix
The author of this blog post is actually very smart and weird twitter was transparent to him two years ago.
I’d love to discuss this with you more. I have had an interest in the “weird” parts of the Internet for a long time now, and have had intersected to some degree with the community of “Weird Twitter.” I feel like this extends beyond just Twitter though; that the phenomenon, as it has presented itself on Twitter, is an Internet-wide postmodernist movement of some kind. It’s the Dada movement for the 21st century.
please give each other ebola
GO AWAY YOU BIG PIECE OF SHIT
Okay, wow. Now we’ve moved from delusions of academia to “art experiment”. Pretty cowardly IMO
i like to eat poop lol
I follow a bunch of people who like to post strange or funny tweets and keep adding more when someone retweets another interesting account I don’t follow. It’s a nice little collection of whatever it is but I never once was compelled to stand up and shout “Eureka! I have found a subculture”. For me, it was because I have no interest in declaring a common thread among what I have been collecting, but thinking back on other incidents I can understand some degree of paranoia. Generally when a culture has been labeled and lumped together on the Internet I’ve noticed that it goes from a bunch of loosely affiliated people doing some thing to a more rigorous, exclusionary and sometimes profit-driven group or set of groups. These guys are clearly just posting tweets to enjoy posting tweets, so I can imagine they really don’t like that sort of interference. Not saying you would contribute to it voluntarily or that there was any danger of it, but I can think of reasons for a paranoiac reaction.
As for misunderstanding what you meant when you said something, well, that’s part of why comedy is being drawn to a medium that has only 140 characters. The less you can get out there the easier it is to either be misinterpreted or simply backpedal when someone calls you out on bullshit, and that’s a popular hobby going back even before the Internet’s inception.
oh man shut up wow
I’m sorry man–I really am–but reading this was a waste of time.
I JUST CAME HERE FOR THE FREE DRINKS
I DON’T GET WHY EVERYTHING HAS TO BE SO SUBDIVIDED
IT’S THE INTERNET
SOME PEOPLE ARE ON IT
THEN THEY SAY SOME THINGS
IT’S NOT A DAMN POLITICS FIGHT
This is actually one of those times where I think giving everything a label is super counter-productive. How far does the fucking rabbit hole have to go?
I understand labels to help people understand a mental disorder or cultural heritage or such things, but at some point the search for self-definition becomes a bottomless pit made of terminology and side-taking.
Can’t we just
Climb back out
everything that is wrong with the social sciences.
i think if the teenagers want to do creative writing then let them express how they feel
the public schools want the kids to regurgitate dates and numbers but the arts are the first to go of course
and now u wanna take away their websites
Allow me to demystify everything
Joke-Men: http://forums.somethingawful.com/forumdisplay.php?forumid=26 (you have to pay 10 dollars to see it)
The Best of the Joke-Men: http://forums.somethingawful.com/forumdisplay.php?forumid=115
http://web.archive.org/web/20090319002012/http://forums.somethingawful.com/forumdisplay.php?forumid=115 (goes all the way back to 2003! Whoa!)
Hope this helps with your research. Keep up the good work.
Thanks that’s great :)
The reason your “cute pictures” tweet is upsetting (to me) is it’s creepy as hell. If you’d omitted the word “cute” it would have read like a normal observation. It’s similar to the difference between “those are cute earrings” and “you look cute in those earrings.” The former is a nice compliment/observation, the latter is a kind of crypto-catcall.
I think you are on to something. But I think the distinctions in your example are pretty subtle, and mileage may vary on the appropriateness of either comment in social context. Some observations:
Stop justifying everything, fuck. People are saying things to you, fucking listen. You look like an ass.
No, it’s really just that complimenting random women on their looks is a social gaffe, even when done in a backhanded way.
From what I can see so far, the great barrier to your understanding here is that feminists have told you this a hundred times while you try to read between the lines to understand what we REALLY mean. What we mean is: do not do this shitty thing. You can take our word for it. You don’t have to examine it for logical flaws and lop off everything that doesn’t fit. It’s not about you and your identity.
Speaking of which, I note with interest that your immediate disavowal of your responsibility for saying a creepy thing to a woman is not based on whether or not it was creepy TO WOMEN (which it was, and which you rejected due to your assumptions), but on your self-identification as a supporter of feminism. Don’t you find that odd? Surely supporting a philosophy or struggle is performative, and not simply a matter of saying that you are, and then encompassing everything you do inside that identity, right?
Incidentally, hell_homer’s “outrage” with you was not actually real. It’s not a question of ruining a joke, or wrecking anyone’s fun, it’s that explaining a joke makes it not funny, until the explanation and reaction to it becomes the joke. In this way, twitter absurd humour defies being pinned down, and can actually unfold forever, completely sincere and totally dishonest, unless it is served by sincerity.
Similarly, kimmy was not actually worried or confused about her popularity, except in an abstract. That is, she’s probably amused and a bit nonplused by it, and related the observation knowing that mixed emotion would be recognised by the rest of us, but stated in terms of great emotional stress. The misdirection becomes the art.
We emote extravagantly to cover the weird distant spectacle of our own negative emotions, observed by us and written down for others. A lot of us are mentally ill; to write slightingly or offhandedly of these things would be painful and wrong, but to wallow in them is equally bad, and so we appear to fixate on unimportant things, and pour emotion on them. The spectacle itself is absurd, and outlines the absurd intimacy of pain, loneliness, and disassociation of self. I mean fuck, it’s 140 characters a shot, and a thousand people read it, some of whom are best friends you’ve never met and probably never will.
And 90% of the hate you got over “weird twitter” was the abyss looking back at you to see what you’d do.
Hi! Thanks for commenting. Though it’s kind of annoying to keep getting pissy stuff like this, it’s also kind of gratifying to know that even after a major hurricane and a presidential election somebody still cares enough about this to write me an essay.
I think that a great barrier to your understanding is not seeing that I immediately took responsibility for having made a gaffe. I have apologized repeatedly to Kimmy, most recently in the comments of this blog post.
What I then did was take the literal comments made by people who I guess are feminists (not reading between the lines, but what they actually said–like, you know, the words) and pointed out that they have logical flaws and inconsistencies. For this I have gotten a lot of grief from people who think that because I have denied the feminist claims, I have not taken responsibility for the act.
I think that this is because feminists are making their reaction to a creepy tweet an issue of their identity as feminists.
I said earlier that I think this all raises some questions about feminism and especially feminism on the internet. Maybe I should have been explicit about those questions. Here are some that come to mind:
* What exactly makes the comment in question “shitty”? Does it depend on context? Does it depend on the emotions involved? Is it possible for something that was not shitty in context to become shitty in interpretation after the fact?
* What are the implications of the inconsistencies in feminist rhetoric for the, as you say, performative support of it?
* What role does apology and forgiveness in play in ideal gender dynamics, in any?
Maybe you’ll be happy to hear that after this experience, I’ve grown a lot personally and no longer identify as a supporter of feminism. I guess I’d say that performing a work of art that engages and questions the limits of feminism is that last explicit act of support for feminism I intend to do for a long time. Since I know a lot of feminists who are really smart, I expect they’ll see if there’s anything of value to get out of this. If not, at least I tried.
As for the rest–the sincerity and honesty of weird twitter, its role as an emotional outlet, the presence of the mentally ill–I think all that is really well put. I expect you already know this, but weird twitter is not the first on-line community that’s like that. And it won’t be the last. And it’s not the first or last time that somebody comes along and shakes one up. That is, in fact, part of the process.
Which is the whole point.
In a way it sucks that I have to keep explaining the joke, but I’m not sure it makes it any less funny.
Yes, it’s neat.
Ugh, the pedantry.
This is probably just repeating what people have said over and over but: if the person you’re addressing in a comment thinks it’s shitty, then it’s shitty. There’s no other context required to come to that conclusion. None.
To pick an Extreme Hypothetical Example, since that seems to jibe with your rhetorical style: if I say to you, “Good morning,” and your response is “Good Morning is the name of my dog who just died, fuck you you heartless bastard,” then it’s my job to say, “Oh shit I had no idea, please accept my apology” and then move on, accepting that I said something shitty. Does it make me a shitty person in that particular instance? Nope. I had no way of knowing. I still said something shitty though. There’s no context that matters other than the context that the person you’re addressing brings to it.
On the other hand, if I tweet, “Good morning” and then dozens of people tell me that what I just said was cruel because all their dogs with that name just died… in addition to apologizing, maybe I should do a little research into the popularity of that dog name, and its correlation to sick animals, and maybe start saying “Top of the morning to you” instead.
Hey, yeah, that’s a really great example (though a bit pedantic). I agree completely.
No your response should be: so sorry about your dog how could I possibly make that assumption I was only being polite now go fuck yourself you self centered cumwheel. Some of the people you describe are unique and absurd. Most are trying to be different just like everyone else in their clique and act out their phantasies of aggressiveness by swarming as anonomised mosquitos. The ideology is a mask for being obnoxious.
(yes, I know I am years late, but this comment by dairus k really riled me up) There is a lot of wtf in the comments section – Kimmy’s crying about ‘the patriarchy’ because someone made a logical observation for one – but this post I am replying to really highlights a lot of problems with the progressive movement.
“if the person you’re addressing in a comment thinks it’s shitty, then it’s shitty. There’s no other context required to come to that conclusion. None” – that is literally a license to be offended by anything, at any time. Fuck context, social cues, different perspectives and personalities; you must police yourself in anticipation of people being upset at anything you say, because if they are upset then you are a bad person and should feel bad.
Obviously, not a progressive attitude. Quite regressive, rather. And fascinating, because it gives an insight into the desperate need for control that is at the heart of ultra-progressivism – those on the left that the rest of the left hates more than they do the far right.
Twitter feminism in particular and internet feminism in general has developed some very odd double standards, and rather than seeking productive dialogue, is simply pejorative – if you don’t agree with me, not only are you wrong, but you have also Done A Bad Thing. How the hell is equity going to be achieved by shaming and moving goalposts?
Obviously, the answer is: it’s not.
I am so sick of seeing people complaining about ‘political correctness’ and ‘the right to offend’ (meaning, essentially, that they wish they could use identity-related slurs with impunity, like in the ‘good old days) but how does one argue with them when one is painfully aware of who they are talking about? How does one say, that’s ridiculous, stop being so childish, when the subjects in question so neatly illustrate the complaint?
tl;dr outrage is currency on the internet.
(I’m not sure my head will ever stop spinning about Darius’ ‘extreme hypothetical’ there. The gymnastics involved in living truly to that standard would be truly olympian.)
Man this cannot be serious. This has to be a blog-extension of the bullshit weird twitter you are supposedly analyzing. You are the biggest douche bag and wimp I’ve ever seen, today. Why don’t you ask to lick the horse_ebook shit off her clogs while you’re at it?
Oh, cool. A troll. Nice work.
[…] gibt scheinbar eine (amerikanische) Subkultur namens „Weird Twitter“ und Slacktory.com hat dazu ne schöne Karte gemalt. Was soll ich jetz’ dazu sagen? Da […]
I’ve had either my current or a previously deleted Twitter account for a year and have been following some of the people generally associated with “weird twitter,” and although I will not/ cannot testify for or against its existence, I also have noticed that there can sometimes be a cliquey mentality amongst certain posters. To provide an example (in a nutshell), one prominent tweeter put up a picture of goatse and I responded telling him that it was gross. I was made fun of by another prominent tweeter as being a “weird twitter wannabe” (at least that’s the vibe that I got) because I wasn’t desensitized to goatse and because my account info is a joke along similar lines to some of their material.
Wow, sorry you went through that. That sucks.
Yeah, I’m getting a sense that it’s a bit douchey out there. Now that I know that some parts of it are like that I feel way less bad about doing more research on it. I’ll announce whatever I do here first though.
Haha you’re the guy who was subtweeted in that “got the word dong in my username / isn’t desensitized to goatse” comment?? hahaha
Anonymous here but I’m a chick and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she got more followers when she posted photos either. Just checked out the people from the map, half of this “weird twitter” shit looks like a surrealist pseudointellectual mating dance males are doing for females, gonna bet there are crushes, maybe DMing.
a fun but gross ass experiment is to check out replies to female weird tweeters esp if the tweets talk about love etc. you can fawn while talking about the abyss and it is still fawning
That’s amazing :)
The weird twitter map is missing at least 75% of the weird twitter people, including most of the major, popular ones.
I lose followers every time I post a picture of myself
:) so much for misogynistic assumptions. patriarchy isn’t what it used to be
make unsolicited comments about a woman’s appearance, make her feel uncomfortable and belittled, imply she has some level of success because she’s “cute”
get called out and don’t acknowledge that your comment was inappropriate, claim she didn’t understand you, post her old tweets without context
discover that you are incorrect with your original assumption and reply with a smiley face emoticon
yeah the patriarchy’s dead as hell lol
^^^^ what she said.
AviorThis kind of hyper sensitivity to the most minor transgression of a Byzantine rule system that only an initiate would know is either affectation or geuine mental illness. You adapt to the world, you dont expect the world to adapt to you. That is the behavior of a spoiled and entitled child.
Also I should add these codifications are malleable because I surmise if the recipient of you compliment were attracted to you there would be know issue or response except “lol hanx dood”. This malleability leads to constant and chronic purges within this subgroup for all manner of ridiocy. When there is no perceived “other” to castigate. Ive seen it and it baffles ne why one would sublimate themselves to a group online or off. Youre dealing with trolls that affect the pose of ideology and intellectuality. As I said before this might be the manifest function but tbe latant fuction is being a douche.
Thank you for putting your thoughts in a place where I can respond to them directly with the respect they deserve.
I will say again: I am so sorry for making you feel uncomfortable and belittled. I had no idea based on your responses to me until you said so recently.
I had assumed based on our interaction previous to the one in question that the social context was understood to be a joking and even openly flirtatious one. I am sorry I violated your boundaries by indirectly commenting on your appearance.
I do still believe that on the whole, especially women who post pictures of themselves are likely to get more followers. I don’t think that means that your success is because you were posting pictures. It would be stupid to say that your success is defined by your number of followers. Rather, your success has to do with who respects your work.
It may be that your popularity has to do with whether you’ve posted pictures. That’s a testable scientific hypothesis, so personally I don’t feel like it carries the political weight I was joking about in my comment above. It would be cool to test and discover for sure whether it was true.
I really don’t think you understood me. I don’t think that changes the importance of how you felt on the matter, which is why I am still apologizing. I don’t think all the accusations made against me are true or coherent. That’s why I was initially comfortable “getting over it”–because it is emotionally unsustainable for me to stay hurt for so long about ways I’ve been misunderstood. One has to get over things sometimes to survive.
I think that having old tweets posted without context is something we’ve both suffered from. You’re the pot calling the kettle black there, since I think the context for the tweet of mine you pulled out matters a hell of a lot.
I would be really open to looking over the whole history of communication between us (it’s not that long) in order with you and going over what we were trying to communicate and why, since I think we and maybe others could learn from that process. Based on what you’ve told me, we were totally missing each others’ meanings. For example, I took “lmao” as a signal that you were ok with what I had said. At one point I was concerned that you had taken me the wrong way and tried to indicate that concern, but it seemed to me like you shrugged it off. If I had known at any point along the way how you felt, I wouldn’t have been so flip.
Twitter is still a relatively new medium and you are one of the people innovating in how to use it. (For example, I’d never heard of anybody deleting @replies until this whole thing; that’s a really cool way to use the technology for open secrecy and to protect privacy.) Norms are bound to be unstable in such a chaotic environment. I’ve made a major gaffe. But the reason why I pressed the point by highlighting our interaction in the blog post above was because I think that the whole interaction really does illustrate some valuable points about gender dynamics in microblogging. That’s why I said I thought it “raises some pretty interesting questions on feminism on the internet.” Because I think these are important questions and it’s a shame to miss out on an opportunity to find answers, even when it makes me look like a total ass for a week. (it’s not the first time I’ve looked like an ass).
At this point you could flip me off and walk away, and I would understand. It won’t diminish my respect for you and I will leave you alone. But if you are interested in exploring these issues further in good faith, it would be a pleasure to work with you.
there literally was no context for your original comment except that I posted a tweet and you replied to it. the unrelated old tweets of mine you posted had fucking nothing to do with anything
you’re more interested in defending your innocence than examining your actions
Is this reply to Seb part of the Weird Twitter Performance Art Experiment, too?
Or are you genuinely offended.
(Hint: Nobody cares either way.)
[…] artículo saltó una pregunta en Quora, de allí a dos anotaciones en el blog de Sebastian —uno y dos—, y tras mucha broma y cuentas parodiando la idea, se llegó al mapa ilustrativo de cabecera, que […]
“I take feminism rather seriously and so I found these accusations pretty hurtful, actually. But then I thought about it and realized that taken together, they make no sense.”
You’re a terrible person. Please stop telling women what to do or not do on the internet. Seriously. Examine your beliefs about others and give some serious thought to when and under what circumstances you are qualified to offer unsolicited advice to a stranger. Then stop doing that, forever.
What you are doing is very interesting. I’m not sure about what it proves or disproves, though.
I get the impression that activities like tweeter only go on because no one has the trouble to check if there is (mis)undersanding and that whenever someone tries to clarify the meaning of something the social relations fall appart. It changes from something like “no one really knows what we are talking about – sweet” to “oh, is that what you mean? you are an asshole”. It’s just a façade. I wonder if all sorts of socializing process are like this – appearances with no meaning at all.
Wait so let me get this you are a PHD student that studies “weir twitter”?
Translation you are paying money to study weird twitter?
you can do that for free?
Not exactly. My university is funding me at the moment as a PhD student, so they pay me. This “study” is not part of my PhD work, it’s an art project informed by my research. But yeah, I research the Internet (often Twitter) for a living.
A lot of people do, actually. Lots of businesses are making money off of the data you put on the Internet. They pay people like me to study you like lab monkeys and figure out how to control you with advertising.
A difference between me and them is that I am working in academia, which while lame in a lot of ways holds itself to ethical standards in research, and opens its research results to others. In my view, the research I do is for people like you. Doing this art project was my way of trying to make what we talk about in academia accessible and relevant to normal people on the Internet.
For example, we recognize in academia that its an ethical problem that most social media users don’t understand they are being researched, especially for commercial purposes. One reason for that is that “researchers are rarely in the user’s imagined audience” (boyd & Crawford, 2012)
By publically “researching” Weird Twitter as an art project, I was taking the opportunity to make the researcher part of their imagined audience. I think it worked.
I can completely attest to the existence of this as you call it “Weird Twitter” however I really believe you’ve approached this community in the wrong way. The Carefucker/Jokeman split is very important to cover and it’s important to note that they are not always mutually exclusive traits. It’s also important to note that there is a third group of neither Carefucker nor Jokeman accounts that are considered an extension of Weird Twitter. You should also be made aware of the abnormally high prevalence of mental illness within the community. Wish you luck in the future.
All of this is such a loony waste of time.
1. Twitter is a waste of time.
2. Weird Twitter is a weird waste of time.
3. Boring take on Weird Twitter is boring.
My lip is bleeding.
You are a turd who would rather bathe in your own shit publically than own up to having both no self-awareness or humour. I hope you drown in cat piss.
Nope, still a turd when you’re not being “ironic”.
How’s that ironic sexism working out for you bud
Wow, Cel. It’s been almost a year. I thought you had forgotten about me. I’m touched!
But I have to admit there are so many layers to your latest message that I don’t really understand what you’re getting at. I can tell that you are angry though.
Maybe you’re in a bad mood today and taking it out on me for some reason?
Weird twitter is so stupid.
Remember when people thought all this crap was a big deal