David Thompson
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January 13, 2015

Comments

Ray

I hope this return to form means you're feeling better, David.

David

I plan to milk the whole Level-9-Man-Flu thing as long as humanly possible.

David

[ Makes sound of asthmatic kitten. ]

John D

...except for the fact that your subconscious has been living on there, and you've been sharing stuff that can make you feel vulnerable… Some of us will have to delete the app just to feel safe.

Another Guardian article written by an adult acting like 13 year old girl.

David

Another Guardian article written by an adult acting like 13 year old girl.

That’s the thing. At first I assumed the piece was going to be about schoolchildren being bitchy on Twitter and ganging up on some unpopular 13-year-old. But children aren’t mentioned anywhere in the article. Instead, the example given is of a 28-year-old millionaire celebrity and textbook narcissist, whose own highly-publicised “memoir” is staggeringly oblivious and very much the cause of her Twitter woes. Not least because of Dunham’s claims of being raped by an identifiable man, who, it turns out, did no such thing. And hence the avalanche of scorn and the bruising of her preposterous self-image.

Basically, Ms Dunham was called out on her lies and squalid behaviour, albeit by lots of strangers and often in vigorous language. Not the soundest footing on which to build an article about the alleged terrors of reading mean things on Twitter.

R. Sherman

It is about entitlement. These types believe they are entitled only to accolades. Heaven forbid, they should be challenged on any of their legions of unsupported assertions. Here's a thought. Solipsism and social media do not mix well.

Sam

I deleted Twitter because I’m trying to create a safer space for myself emotionally… There’s a lot of people I love on Twitter, but unfortunately you can’t read those without reading deranged Neocons telling you you should be buried under a pile of rocks.

Poor Lena. It's tough being a screwed-up celebrity millionaire who got caught telling porkies.

Jon Powers

Deleting the app seems a bit much. To feel safe from twitter, Ms Delaney should follow my lead. Every night before bed, I simply shove my phone in a box of garlic, seal with silver chains, and bury in a 6 foot hole dug in my back yard. No harm has come to me so far. #smart.

Joan

some of us will have to delete the [Twitter] app just to feel safe.

Don't forget to burn the phone. Better safe than sorry.

splotchy

What Dunham and the writer of that risible article want is for the freedom to pontificate/distort/offend as much as they like - but to suppress those who would argue/dissent and be offensive back to them.

.....which is the thin end of the wedge that lead to what happened in Paris last week.

Min

Twitter has a 'block' option, right?

Hal

I plan to milk the whole Level-9-Man-Flu thing as long as humanly possible.

Only level 9?!?!? Oh, that's nothing!

wtp

Every night before bed, I simply shove my phone in a box of garlic, seal with silver chains, and bury in a 6 foot hole dug in my back yard.

Or do what I did. Damn thing kept ringing and blinging and buzzing...I put the phone back in its original packaging, wrapped it in three layers of cellophane, two layers of duct tape, another layer or two of cellophane, and a final layer of duct tape. Got a 5 gallon bucket from Lowes (or Home Depot, either will do), suspended the object in the bucket, and filled it with water. This I then stuck in the bottom of the freezer. The wife started b*tching about there being no room for her bon-bons. I told her to shut up or she's next.

This is why I always keep the packaging that things come in.

JL

Take off and nuke the phone from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

witwoud

"Take off and nuke the phone from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

Yeah, except that the nasty comment will stow away in your landing gear and come after you again.

mojo

nano-agressions

JuliaM

At least with the phenomenon of 'manslamming', modern feminism seems to have finally found a complaint that causes even the 'Guardian' to say "'Oh, come ON!' "

JuliaM

Splotchy: ".....which is the thin end of the wedge that lead to what happened in Paris last week."

Lena's lucky - those 'neocons' only tell her she ought to be buried under a pile of rocks. They don't actually DO IT, unlike you know who...

Joan

Lena Dunham didn't "go dark" for long, I see.

https://twitter.com/lenadunham/with_replies

She must be feeling "safe" again.

Richard Powell

These people are always so self-congratulatory, aren't they? "99.99% of the time Twitter is wonderful – like interacting with a roving group of the world’s smartest, funniest people." Well I've glanced at Lena D's tweets and frankly I've met smarter, funnier builders and cleaners. Her 1.98m followers must lead some sad lives.

Bidisha was on the Today programme just now, arguing for society to be reorganised from top to bottom. Which is very altruistic of her, as a moment's thought suggests that if our social arrangements did change radically people like Bidisha would probably be among the losers. Prof Alison Wolf lent notes of realism and sanity to the proceedings.

Patrick Brown

JuliaM - let's not forget that, back in November, Julie Bindel - Julie Bindel! - was writing that the harassment of Matt Taylor over his shirt made feminism look bad. When your behaviour is bad even Julie thinks it's "toxic", I think that's a fair indication you've jumped he shark.

AC1

Measuring aggressions in Planck units?

Watcher in the dark

"Going Dark" means turning the damn thing off, right?

Oooh, there's bold for you. I used to think such a phrase was a lot more sinister than the off switch.

DH

"Going Dark" means turning the damn thing off, right?

I was secretly hoping that it meant Ms Dunham was rehearsing for an Al Jolson tribute show.

What a let down.

Mags

"Going Dark" means turning the damn thing off, right?

Only after making A BIG DEAL about it. And then turning it on again when you want attention.

Mr-Ohms

Measuring aggressions in Planck units?

The Quantum of Malice....

Mediated by the exchange of the Les Boson. This is so tightly bound to the Marxon that a huge ego accelerator is required to make it briefly exist and even then it's existence can only be deduced by looking for the shower of retweets that follow the initial collision.

Theophrastus

It may be some time before I can visit this site without imagining the wheezes and snuffles of an asthmatic kitten. It was a great line, David.

RY

"Going Dark"

According to urban dictionary:

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Going%20Dark

mojo

Oh, and "manslamming": Go pick on a 6'5" 350-lb linebacker. I want to see how far you bounce.

james

she ought to be buried under a pile of rocks

there aren't enough rocks in our galaxy ...

james

Going Dark

what chance of the attractive Miss Dunham being blindsided by a grievance-mongering, womyn of color, Guardian columnist-type (*), who contrives to take offence at the use of "dark" to describe being unconnected to twitter and modern communications?

Or is that too much to hope for?

Or just a matter of time?

*- I know- tautology piled upon tautology

Amy

Brigid Delaney, a novelist and Guardian features editor whose estimation of her own brilliance and entitlement to taxpayer subsidy entertained us not too long ago.

Can't believe I missed that one. A well-deserved skewering.

David

Can’t believe I missed that one.

It’s one of my favourites. I think it’s one of those Guardian articles that says much more than the author seems to realise, in almost every other sentence, not least about the author’s own jaw-dropping conceits. There’s an obliviousness - an apparently practised knack for missing the implication of her own statements. Reading it, you get the impression that Ms Delaney’s sense of entitlement doesn’t get challenged much, at least not within earshot. Which makes me wonder what kind of social and professional circle she inhabits, where the glaringly obvious passes unremarked by her peers, like a co-dependent deception. One that’s maintained via elaborate contrivance, because to pull on that thread would reveal their vanities as being just that.

And it’s a vanity that’s not at all uncommon.

JuliaM

It's art. Apparently.

http://t.co/Qr9DRYglp8

AC1

@JuliaM

http://store.steampowered.com/app/322920/

Thought you might be interested. IIRR you play The Hunter.

David

It’s art. Apparently.

They’re very clumsily done. Ms Guggeri, the artist, doesn’t seem very skilled in her chosen medium. Hence, presumably, the ‘controversial’ subject matter.

twitter.com/mrleeward

where being laughed at or called names is “an incredibly visceral experience” for grown men and women.

You do know it's more – much more – than 'being laughed at or called names', right?

David

Lee,

You do know it’s more – much more – than ‘being laughed at or called names’, right?

I’m sure lots of people can be deranged and vile on Twitter, and were Ms Delaney talking about school children being targeted by hundreds of people, she’d have a sounder footing for her piece. But the example she gives, and on which her article apparently rests, is a millionaire celebrity known for her near-continual attention-seeking neediness and whose own words and legally actionable behaviour were primary causes of (or excuses for) whatever nasty comments followed them.

We aren’t given the particulars of what was tweeted at Ms Dunham, beyond her being called a “cow” and some unspecified threats. It isn’t entirely clear from the article’s phrasing, but it’s possible that being called “grotesquely ugly” and “the most stupid person in the universe,” and being told to wear a plastic bag “until you die,” were also among the less flattering comments. This, we’re told, is what constitutes “an incredibly visceral experience.” Quite possibly there were tweets that were more scandalising, but they aren’t mentioned by Ms Delaney, who expects us to agree that being called stupid and ugly is a basis for adults - rich celebrities - fainting in distress.

[ Added: ]

From the perspective of trying to argue her point, you’d think that Ms Delaney, a professional writer, would use the best possible ammunition, the most depraved and wounding 140-character comments. And so any tweeted threat that one might take seriously – as credibly threatening - would be shared with readers, in gist if not in detail. This didn’t happen. Instead, the main cause of that “incredibly visceral experience” is apparently a “stacks on” - lots of people tweeting their “disgust and condemnation.” And if, as Dunham did, you do something that invites condemnation, that’s hardly unexpected. And so we’re left with the implication that being called “ugly” and a “cow” was a credible cause of distress for a millionaire celebrity who thrives on controversy and being regarded as edgy.

I’m sure that for some people, and for narcissists in particular, finding hundreds of unkind, even venomous tweets in one’s timeline can be a dismaying experience. But again, the example given by Ms Delaney – the one that’s supposed to sway us and make us feel the dizzying horror of it all – is an inapt choice. A wealthy self-admiring fabulist, whose career and persona are based on an obnoxious desperation for public attention, whether favourable or disgusted. As demonstrated by Dunham’s “memoir,” to which the Twitter drama in question was a kind of blowback.

Not that this was deemed worth mentioning.

DensityDuck

Christ. Twitter would be better if people like her weren't on it.

twitter.com/mrleeward

some unspecified threats

Yes, some unspecified death threats. Still, if she's guilty of the dizzying catalogue of crimes you accuse her of (attention-seeking! Neediness! Narcissism!), you're right, she's clearly the very worst person and deserves all the opprobrium her and her sort get.

Nikw211

And so any tweeted threat that one might take seriously – as credibly threatening - would be shared with readers, in gist if not in detail.

This reminds of the time shortly after the row over whether or Dr Matt Taylor's fashion choices were retrospectively responsible for forcing thousands of young women to apply for liberal arts courses instead of STEM, when Jezebel published an article with the headline:

    Woman Gets Death Threats for Tweeting About Disliking A Dude's Shirt

The first example of these so-called 'Death Threats' was: You're an absolute MORON. Jump off a cliff. Please. while another was simply Please kill yourself.

Bearing in mind that the headline was Woman Gets Death Threats, they then went on to give as other examples of offensive Tweets:

    Why are you objectifying a man by basing your opinion solely on his appearance, and not his contribution to society?
    Seriously, @roseveleth quit your bitching. The fact that you see this shirt as a problem, simply says volumes about YOU, not him.

Of course, it could just be said that Jezebel can be ignored as it's not a serious mainstream news site.

While this is true to a large extent, both Jezebel and, say, the Guardian are both under similar pressure to produce mountains of click-baiting content using minimal resources.

But there are actual potential consequences in terms of government policy and public life from the constant barrage of these bullshit articles.

To see just how low the bar has gone on a very serious crime, I would like to suggest taking at look at this article below and what one person is reported as describing as an instance of a "story [that] does count as sexual assault".

Nikw211

Yes, some unspecified death threats.

Well, aye, there's the rub, isn't it?

When they are specified, the idea of calling them death threats is completely beyond all credibility (see for example Jump off a cliff. and Please kill yourself above).

As David says, this leaves the reader with the insinuation that much worse and more credible threats have been sent – but if so, then why is this not under police investigation?

Similarly, even when more vile and serious threats of murder and rape do appear in Tweets why, as has been asked so often, do so many of these Tweeting activist-celebrities immediately broadcast the fact all over the Internet, rather than contact the proper authorities?

Is it perhaps because the text of such messages happens to support perfectly arguments such as the widespread prevalence of male-on-female violence in society, the claimed callous disinterest of the police in being able to handle women's fears, the claimed attempts to 'silence the voices of strong and outspoken women'?

And so texts with truly vile messages on them are highly valued for the publicity they generate for the 'victim'? Certainly, they seem to be more valuable to these 'victims' than actually going to the police (whose routine recommendation is not to publicise them).

I notice for instance that there was complete silence from certain quarters every time it transpires that deeply misogynistic rape and death threats turn out to have been sent by women and even, sometimes, teenage girls.

David

Lee,

…you’re right, she’s clearly the very worst person and deserves all the opprobrium her and her sort get.

That’s an absurd leap. I’m not excusing threatening words, or even general nastiness on Twitter. But there’s a context in this case, one that wasn’t shared with readers, and details being omitted.

My point was to highlight the impression given by Ms Delaney’s article – that a celebrity controversialist was felled by criticism, name-calling and virtual obnoxiousness, supposedly unconnected to her own behaviour. Yes, there are plenty of trolls and bigots out there, and people with mental health issues, and I’ve no idea how credible any tweeted threat was. Ms Delaney doesn’t tell us, and doesn’t seem to regard them as being the most pressing issue. They’re mentioned once, vaguely, in passing, and conflated with name-calling and general rudeness. But being threatened with death by a stranger, supposedly credibly, doesn’t exist on the same moral plane as feeling “hurt” because some stranger on Twitter called you a “cow”. And again, if someone is going to rest the weight of an overwrought article on an exemplar of Twitter victimhood, her choice is somewhat odd.

David

Nik,

The first example of these so-called ‘Death Threats’ was: “You’re an absolute MORON. Jump off a cliff. Please.”

It’s very much a problem – routine hyperbole, often by self-styled activists, and the consequent blunting of quite important words. That Ms Delaney doesn’t feel it pertinent to tell us how credible any threatening tweets were tends to invite suspicion of overstatement, fairly or not. And her casual conflation of (possibly) serious threats and everyday rudeness, even sharp criticism, adds to the air of doubt. Delaney’s chief concern, as shown by the subheading, isn’t death threats, credible or otherwise, but “social media manners.” I.e., not being mean.

[ Added: ]

The context of Ms Dunham’s Twitter drama is important. To omit any mention of what preceded it, as Ms Delaney does, gives Guardian readers the impression that the online opprobrium was some random act of beastliness, thereby emphasising Ms Delaney’s victimhood angle. A happy coincidence, I’m sure. But given the laughable and squalid contents of Ms Dunham’s memoir, and given the rape allegations and their fallout for an innocent man, and given Dunham’s apparent indifference to this fallout, quite a lot of derision was to be expected. Some of that derision will, inevitably, have been aired in rough and salty language.

To then conflate this kind of reaction – mockery, name-calling, etc. - with credible death threats is, to say the least, unwise. Making a specific and credible death threat (assuming that was in fact the case), even via Twitter, is a different kind of thing to calling someone on Twitter ugly, or stupid, or dishonest, or narcissistic. The latter could be called rudeness, even if deserved, but the former is more than a mere breach of social nicety.

Theophrastus

I've just spent £52 on Amazon via David's link. Highly recommended (as a pensioner): save money, support David. Forgive me: just saying....

David

Your host endorses the above message wholeheartedly.

JuliaM

@AC1: Oh yes! I downloaded that the minute it came out.

It's a little rough but it has great promise.

dicentra

Until social media manners catch up with the real world,

Perhaps it's not social media that needs to catch up to the real world. I've yet to see evidence that Ms. Dunham has even a nodding acquaintance with such a realm.

dw

To omit any mention of what preceded it, as Ms Delaney does, gives Guardian readers the impression that the online opprobrium was some random act of beastliness, thereby emphasising Ms Delaney’s victimhood angle. A happy coincidence, I’m sure.

That.

David

That.

Well, it’s one thing to say, “Isn’t it awful that Lena Dunham received death threats via Twitter? No wonder she deleted her Twitter app and felt emotionally unsafe.” (Assuming for the moment that the threats were in fact credible and not like the absurdities cited by Jezebel.)

But it’s something quite different to say, “Isn’t it awful that Lena Dunham received lots of disgusted and scathing tweets about what she’d written in her high-profile memoir, including accounts of sexual molesting her infant sister and her false allegations of rape, which could easily have ruined the life of an utterly innocent man? No wonder she deleted her Twitter app and felt emotionally unsafe.”

And casually blurring the two as if they were interchangeable is… well, sly.

Joan

"Accidental kissing is sexual assault."

http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/20829/

Hal

It’s very much a problem – routine hyperbole,

Siiiiiiiggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh.

David.

I have told you one hundred million times.

Never exaggerate!!!!!

mojo

Lights off... Lights on...

She must have the Clapper.

Jonathan

Evidently, Twitter death threats are OK if the cause is just:

http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/live-oldham-athletic-deal-sign-8405041

Nikw211

It’s very much a problem – routine hyperbole, often by self-styled activists, and the consequent blunting of quite important words.

And casually blurring the two as if they were interchangeable is … well, sly.

It is.

That is to say, it is indeed both incredibly sly and a problem, and it is having real world consequences.

'Man spreading' for example seems incredibly trivial, but actually I think it signals a very worrying trend.

That such absolute nonsense as 'man spreading' – and I don't mean any old quotidian stupidity but real, pure grade 'A' need-to-wear-dark-glasses-in-case-it-blinds-you hardcore moronity – has made the leap from a radical Feminist blog in Sweden to Twitter and from there into material reality in the form of a campaign on New York's underground system is enough to make my head spin.

If they can effect real changes in protocols, even in a small way as this campaign, fuelled only by Tweets then the outlook for 2015 does not look good.

As you suggest, I hate the sly way in which radically unrelated events are stitched together into a huge patchwork banner of bullshit on which is displayed in massive letters LOOK YE ON MY MIGHTY SUFFERING AND OPPRESSION AND BE AWED BY MY VICTIM STATUS*.

The most spectacularly stupid and/or dishonest example of this I saw was here in Rebecca Solnit's review of 2014 in which she managed to conflate the kidnap of schoolgirls by Islamist Fascist outlaws in Nigeria with the relationship woes of a millionaire American football player, Eliot Rodger and Emma Sulkowicz as if these were all part and parcel of the same thing.

Except perhaps for the aptly named Sulkowicz, these are tragic and quite serious cases she's describing but what they are decidedly *not* is part of a transnational interconnected web of ideas and attitudes towards women (i.e. capitalist patriarchal oppression).

Ironically, when there *is* actually an example of murderers who very likely know absolutely nothing about one another and have never met but who nevertheless share pretty much exactly the same view and understanding of the world – such as the two Michaels, Adebolajo and Adebolajo, the Tsarnaev brothers and the Kouachi brothers – that's more often and not when any kind of connection is hotly denied (unless it's a connection to Western imperial aggression, obviously) and when you are most likely to find yourself charged with being a racist bigot for suggesting there might be one.

Bullshit is irritating enough as it is, let alone when it actually starts to shape society in real ways.

* Under which should be written … er and then, y'know guv'mint, spare a subvention of enormous proportions for a poor waif wot such as I is.

David

the sly way in which radically unrelated events are stitched together into a huge patchwork banner of bullshit

Well, Delaney’s article is a bit woolly and it’s not always clear what her point is, or which quotes relate to whom; but the effect is to conflate the serious and the trivial as if they were to be disapproved of equally. As if the seriousness of one thing validated stern measures (or deep feeling) against something fairly humdrum.

But any mass medium that allows instant and anonymous feedback will inevitably attract lots of bilious knuckleheads. Controversy-seeking celebrities should therefore not be surprised by the sometimes unflattering contents of their Twitter timeline, especially in the immediate wake of their latest controversy. That attention-seekers can’t dictate the kind of attention they receive isn’t exactly news.

Maybe Ms Delaney could instead have wrung a 900-word article from the unremarkable idea that one shouldn’t tweet death threats, even empty ones - an activity that is presumably still rather niche. But implying that everyone should always be nice and polite on Twitter to spare the feelings of the ostentatiously delicate seems a bit like saying, “People really shouldn’t leave inane comments under YouTube videos.”

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