More U-Turns From Suzanne Moore #twitter #digitaldualism
Suzanne Moore is not known for her consistency when it comes to her relationship with social media. She left twitter twice during the shitstorm following her transphobic meltdown earlier this year. So we should not be surprised she did another disappearing act this week, only to return immediately, albeit on a kind of ‘non-cooperation’ basis. She’s still pimping her columns but won’t share her dazzling character and quips with us. Shame.
What she has shared is a column, supporting the recent actions of boxer Curtis Woodhouse. Apparently sick to death of receiving abuse on twitter, Woodhouse took the law into his own hands, found the address of his ‘twitter troll’ and drove round to his house to – er – well I think he just sat outside in his car, looking menacing. Ms Moore thought this was super cool. She said that ‘many of us would happily pay him to drive around the country to have a word with their abusers (calling them trolls is misleading).’It is probably inconvenient that the brave, C-list celebrity hero of this story is a man. If he had have been of the fairer sex, Moore might have turned this into a Valerie Solanas style parable, in which teh wimminz are moved to seek revenge on all those nasty misogynists who ever called them horrid names online. So Moore just mentions women a lot anyway, to bring things round to her agenda. She writes:
‘But Twitter isn’t nice. “Come on guys, it’s just banter!” “Can’t you take a joke?” Well, you are certainly meant to take it lying down if you are any kind of minor celebrity, or worse, a woman.’
Here she ties herself up in some knots. Usually a major promoter of victim feminism, in which women are presented as helpless damsels at the mercy of those big bad wolves, men, Moore now is suggesting that like ‘minor celebrities’, women are likely to be attacked on social media because they are perceived as wielding power. She says:
‘Social media doesn’t do face-to-face. It does jokes, one-liners, boasts. The disconnect between what one says online and how it is received by an actual person is lost in a murk of babble. Anyone who is perceived as powerful is not allowed to react like a human being.’
This notion that there is a ‘disconnect’ between our online and offline selves and modes of expression, is yet another example of digital dualism. As the cyborgology writers such as Nathan Jurgenson and Whitney Erin Boesel have explained, presenting this false binary between the ‘virtual’ and the ‘real’ is often a way of saying something negative about one side of the coin, and its usually, as it is in Moore’s case, the digital ‘world’ that comes off worse. Moore is trying to convince us that her departure from twitter is nothing to do with her own behaviour, but is the fault of…well.,. twitter! She tries to include her readers in what she suggests is a growing number of people becoming disillusioned with online interactions.
‘I recently got so bored of the constant abuse that I decided to take some time out of Twitter. And I wonder if I am the only one. Has Twitter peaked? More and more people may join but the percentage of those who actively tweet remains fairly constant’
‘No one is advocating violence. But I would like the relentless stream of online abuse to stop. Often, it is random and meaningless, and done simply because it can be. Of course, I can be rude myself. But when I am rude in writing it’s in my name – I am not hiding’
‘Perhaps there is a lull in tweeting because we have hit a time where the next stage of online etiquette has to be worked out. It’s one thing to defend anonymity on the grounds that it is necessary for the activism of the Arab spring, it is quite another when it is used to bully and taunt women almost constantly. Anonymity is not revolutionary when it is used to gag the weak.’
These statements from La Moore are all over the place and probably don’t warrant much analysis. But I think it’s worth highlighting that, using a complete lack of understanding of how percentages work!, Moore is blaming the medium in which she has been relentlessly promoting herself for a number of years, for the fact she is currently receiving rather a lot of criticism for some of her more nasty views. That’s right, I said criticism not ‘abuse’. Because in the run up to her latest flounce from twitter, I didn’t see any abusive comments to Moore. All I saw were some new blogposts and renewed challenges from trans people and others about her transphobic remarks in January. If you don’t believe me then have a look at her @ mentions yourselves. She also takes this opportunity to attack online anonymity, another ‘digital dualist’ position, where any form of identity or persona that doesn’t match our IRL ‘true self’ is seen as suspect. And again she gets confused about who is ‘powerful’ and who is ‘weak’.