• Jacqueline Leighton

Beware or Behold the Twitter Mob!

On August 17, 2021, I got attacked by my first Twitter Mob - exciting but tiresome. Most of them anonymous with names such as Alberta MD War Room, 20xt6, altView, ChronicSeb says test, trace, isolate and ventilate, albahead the overtross; however, there are others with what seem to be real names such as Dr. N. Wyatt, N. Dorval, A. Szava-Kovats, T. Grill. I was attacked because I had posted my disappointment that students were going to be forced to mask up in University classes. As an instructor, I indicated that given the recommendations from the Chief Medical Health Officer, this was not needed. BAD IDEA - the haters came out in droves - making fun of an instructor wanting to see students faces! "Hah, they wrote - you selfish teacher, you don't need to see their faces; why do you disregard student safety? You call yourself a psychologist?"


Come again?


I was told by others that this was an accomplishment - being attacked on Twitter, that is. One respected medical doctor actually responded to me and said "Still waiting on my first Twitter mob attack. It's a special moment in every principled person's career." This made me feel good. Okay I thought. This is actually a good thing! But then why am I throwing my phone into the river?


What makes the Twitter Mob something to behold truly... is that they are sincerely angry, frustrated and vitriol exudes from their veins. Raw emotion is an incredible vision to observe. They do not have a sense of humour, and they also apparently have a lot of time on their hands. I've mostly deleted some of these messages, although I will keep them going forward because I want to curate a page called the Twitter Art and Philosophy. Another good soul, Twitter person (with a real name) advised me that one of the best things to do on Twitter is learn to block the lunatics early. Lunatics seemed like the right adjective here. I think I spent this afternoon blocking about 50 people and it felt good. Check out this gem:


Therapeutic.


I actually don't like blocking people, potential followers whom I might learn something from. But these folks are not interested in engaging, really. They are like hapless sharks in the water, waiting for the scent of blood to become remotely detectable and then, something magical happens - they jump and attack! Boom, boom, boom, the notifications explode. You're afraid to look at it but you also have a wicked curiosity about what kind of crazy s##t they are going to say. Piling on becomes almost choreographed.... with the beauty of the anonymous names and avatars. Who knew that Bugs Bunny could be so vicious? Most of them want to silence you, humiliate you and scare you. It's hard to be scared of a kitty avatar but this is no regular kitty. Interestingly, many also have descriptors on their profile such as "educator" or "human rights activist" or "promoter of people."


Say what? Human rights activist? On what planet you ask... Wrong question they come at you again. "Go back to America!" they chant...But wait...I'm Canadian I answer.


I started communicating on Twitter because since the University of Alberta closed down, we effectively did not have much of a professional or scholarly environment to be in. After I taught my courses, and did my research work, I would check twitter occasionally for what might be on offer. It was interesting to see that many respected medical doctors had articles and studies to share about COVID-19 and the real risks posed by the strains depending on someone's age and co-morbidities. Wow - interesting I thought. For example, did you know that obesity is one of the top co-morbidities for a really bad outcome from COVID? This is also the case for children. No one talks about it in the media. Hmmm.


But one quickly learns that questions about COVID are not welcomed on Twitter. If you ask a question - say, if vaccines work or why are we masking up when all are vaccinated? This will lead the angry, masked Twitter mob to descend on you and try to cast you away like an old shoe. "Wait you cry.... but it was only a question, do we not ask those anymore?" Nope says the Twitter Warrior. No more questions. Wear your mask. You are so selfish for not thinking about others. Never mind the evolving science. Reminds me of the old 1981 Mommie Dearest movie. No more wire hangers... EVER! I will be curating my blog with some of the most interesting and creative Twitter Warrior Vitriol! An ode to freedom of expression and the silencing behaviour of the mob. More to come.


Picture Credit: Pixabay