Friday, October 25, 2013

Twitter and the Death of Talking Real

This post was born after I read this NYT article. Read it or don't it doesn't matter nobody's reading this blog anyway.

The tl;dr on that story is that a by all accounts capable, intelligent, and driven employee on Capitol Hill was fired because of his snarky twitter comments.

Now, let's look at a somewhat related video of a presentation given by Christopher Poole, creator of a website that has been condemned/embraced as the "internet hate machine".

tl;dr people aren't a single entity, they are different for different audiences, and they should be allowed to speak as whomever they please. People need to sometimes engage their dark sides.

If you haven't guessed already, dear non-existent reader, I think that the sacking of Jofi Joseph was ridiculous. I can absolutely understand why it was done, but I think that the fact that somebody can be fired for their non-work-sanctioned commentary on their own fucking field of expertise is idiotic in the extreme.

I will start by asking who was harmed? I couldn't give less of a shit about the ego of politicians and their assorted hangers-on. Bitch if you can't put up with criticism, particularly valid criticism, you should get out of the public sector, period. It's well-known in development of videogames and films that there are going to be attacking you for no reason, not because they don't like what you've done, but because they're sad pathetic people who've nothing better to do than annoy anybody with any amount of notoriety.

But Msr. Joseph wasn't even doing that. Here's a sample tweet from the article:
AUG. 23 Hey @AmbassadorRice I doubt that Assad is reading your Twitter feed, so you can dispense with the tough-sounding macho tweets from today.
Not only is that mildly amusing (in my opinion, the chief purpose and good of Twitter), it makes a good point. Politicians using twitter to promote policy is the dumbest shit I've ever heard. It's a way to rally support around your cause (follow @WendyDavis if you're a fan of women's rights), but you need to be real about how people use twitter. The average tweet consumer isn't going to read a tweet condemning the Syrian regime and say "HEY YEAH YOUR RIGHT FUCK ASSAD I DIDN'T KNOW HE WAS A DICK UNTIL I READ THIS TWEET THANKS TWITTER THANKS @AMBASSADORRICE." They're going to scroll past it like so much other garbage clogging many a feed.

I have a philosophy that a company that will fire you/not hire you for some dumb bullshit is not a company worth working for, but I'm certain that this culture of always towing the party line for all external communication is endemic in Washington D.C. I think that the rise of certain companies and people willing to talk real (Paul Graham, The Jezos) is proof that people who tolerate and institutionalise bullshit are on their way out. I'm sure people have always thought it, but I truly believe that with the Internet boom people will no longer be able to get away from the truth.

People who are unwilling to confront the truth are the last bastion of the failures of society. If people are unwilling to tolerate a light needling from somebody not speaking in an official capacity, how can they be expected to respond to the same criticism in an official context?

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