Revisiting tits and trolls

A rare post about twitter. Sorry twitter haters. A while ago I wrote a pithy little number called ‘Of tits and trolls’.  Now, after getting the latest Moran storm tweeted into my timeline over the past 24 hours, I’m rethinking my support of the ‘block’ button. Basically Moran wrote a column about equality which started with a parody which was the only bit available to view online for non-subscribers of the Times. This caused offence. Moran has a bit of history of causing offence [sive].

Helen Lewis then wrote a laboriously detailed defence of Moran putting ‘everything’ in context. This has been retweeted off the planet. The trouble is, the context that Lewis draws on is sterile and stripped of the emotion, pain, devastation, weariness, tedium, injustice, discrimination, harm, exhaustion, etc, etc, etc, often experienced by the people who are so incensed by Moran’s careless journalism. For me, Lewis’s post reinforces some of the complacency and ignorance that tinges the writing of many journalists (not all of course) who have little or no understanding of what it is like to grow up outside of, or on the margins, of mainstream life.

Should Moran have some sort of insight or understanding of these experiences? I think she probably should given her position and reach. She’s in a position to make a difference. But there’s the block button. That protects Moran (and others) from having to engage with
difference. Well the block button and the concept of ‘troll’.  The trouble is, blocking ‘trolls’ (i.e., people who disagree with you) will lead to twitter becoming a tedious, turgid space where you’re surrounded by similar others, with your views and values protected as kind of cosily superior and untouchable. Instead of blocking, ignoring offensive posts is probably as effective. And allows space for discussion and change.