A couple of days ago, I was on twitter all day promoting an article. It’s an important (unpaid) part of the job. And as I was doing that, I was reading all the tweets of the day. Of course, everyone was responding to the latest statement by our president. He knows how to whip them up good.
Anyway, bored with talking about my article, I threw out a one sentence tweet that was the equivalent of “I know you guys are all saying this, but, in my conversations with others, they are saying that. Shrug.” It was mild and boring, and I expected nobody to notice it.
Almost instantly, tons and tons of people starting yelling at me. Like tweet-screaming at me. If I wanted lots of traffic, I could get it by wading into the muck. But I don’t want it. It’s terrible for my career, so I instantly deleted the tweet. Even though everything that I said was absolutely correct. Who needs the hassle? I don’t have tenure. I can’t say whatever I like. Not even the truth.
Shutting down conversation really rubs me the wrong way, because I was trained to be a professor, a political science professor. I love swimming in the grey area, the middle zone, the contradictions. I love the challenging questions. If everybody says X, I have to say “let’s consider Y for a minute.” That’s how I was trained. There is no way that I would start a career in political science today.
A few months back, I got into something with an old blogging buddy who yelled at me for looking for a middle road on the topic du jour. He yelled at me and unfollowed me. Said that it was inappropriate to talk the way I did, because “it was a war!!!”
Everybody feels like they are in the middle of a war. People aren’t happy. Day-to-day people who never touch social media or pundit themselves on the op-ed pages of the big newspapers are whispering stuff to me over glasses of wine in the local pub. I can’t tell their stories. I would get demolished.
But the hate on the Internet is particularly intense. As I said, I got some pretty horrific comments on my HuffPost article about the flight attendant and Ian’s autism. Commenters said that I should have aborted my kid, beaten him, or drowned him. I should say that 90 percent of the comments were positive, but those evil ones stand out in my head more. I still haven’t recovered from that.
I find myself walking away from the usual sources of information and looking for something light and funny and simply not angry. I’m reading home decorating Instagram posts. Seriously. I watched a five minute video this morning from some designer who made a family room in some rich lady’s home more inviting.
We’re heading into an election. I’ve always talked about politics in this blog. But I’m not sure if that I should. I’m not sure that I want to. I may even delete this blog post in thirty minutes. We live in bad times.