I’ve just fully noticed the whole #TwitterSilence thing.
I’d heard bits here and there, but to be honest, I hadn’t engaged.
For what it’s worth, despite being a woman, writing about politics online, challenging authority and those who believe sick and disabled people should have no rights, I don’t really get trolled much.
Why is that I wonder? There’s certainly plenty of disability hate out there at the moment – more than at any time I can remember in my lifetime. I’ve never had death threats, rape threats, sustained cruel trolling or any other nastiness. The very few users I felt it was impossible and pointless to engage with, have been quietly blocked. I don’t need to see their hate, they don’t want to see my opinions – it’s a win-win and really easy to do. One click. “Block” Ooops, done! Just like that.
But then, I’ve never called anyone a “spaz” or a “mong” online. I hesitate even to call IDS evil.
Anyway, getting into the why’s and wherefores of cruel trolling is not the point of this post. My dear friend, Mrs Nicky Clark has suffered some of the vilest abuses I’ve ever encountered anywhere, never mind online, simply for trying to oppose disability hate language and crime.
No, this post is for those thousands of sick and disabled people who rely on Twitter as their only form of social interaction. Nothing has horrified me more than how totally isolated some of my supporters are. Simply because of their impairments, friends may have drifted away, colleagues no longer call, family may judge and choose to turn away.
For many, Twitter and of course other forms of social media are their only lifeline. Many have found love, acceptance, humour, intelligence and a deep understanding they had despaired of every finding again. It is where the word #spoonie came from.
What’s more, many of those people, despite their own isolation, have been engaged in a desperate fight for dignity, support and inclusion which they see being stripped away from them at every turn. They have found a voice and that voice is now powerful, respected and innovative. The idea that self censorship, clearing the floor for their opponents could change anything at all would be anathema to them.
Every civil rights movement through time has found success by speaking out and speaking out and speaking out, calmly, reasonably, but forcefully whatever their critics say, whatever the provocation, however they are threatened or decried. Nothing else ever changed the world, ever.
So I’m afraid there will be no silence from me. I will be here, supporting people desperate for that support, as I am most days. I will be here for the friend who hasn’t seen another human being since the grocery shopping was delivered last Tuesday. For the friend who just found out they are to lose everything at the hands of the DWP, with no idea at all why or how it could have happened. I will be here, as I always am when I open my DMs to find someone so desperate, they plan to take their own life – oh those messages I get regularly. They break my heart, silence would be a cruel and incomprehensible response.
Twitter silence will do nothing to articulate fear or desperation or loneliness. As a response to bullying and cruelty, I’m afraid I don’t see the reasoning.