Twitter Rundown: Nice to tweet you.

I’ve been spending far too much time tweeting and not nearly enough time focused on long-form writing. Or perhaps I should say I’ve been cutting up said writing into 140 characters. I use Twitter in two ways—to hold conversations and to dispense essays. Really, Twitter should be used for self-promotion, but I started off using Twitter as a glorified chat room and old habits die hard. My account is private—and while the digital padlock blissfully cuts interactions with strangers to almost nil it makes it difficult to share one’s work.

My tweets have increased as Trump has usurped the presidency and fascism has taken root in the mainstream. My social circle is comprised largely of folks from marginalized groups (or those who love them) and we are all concerned to say the least. To tweet is to stay in touch, to make sure we are all getting up every morning, and that we know that our getting up is helping someone else get through.

What follows are my tweets regarding the events of the last few days—Trump’s inauguration, the Women’s March on Washington, and how Nazi leader Richard Spencer became an international joke in the span of a few seconds with a mere punch from an Antifa rebel.

On Nazis and not-so-Nazis:

“I know calling regular ol’ American racists Nazis makes white people feel better but if y’all refuse to acknowledge this ish is homegrown and was around long before Nazis ever existed you aren’t going to be able to properly combat it. Right now there’s some dude who voted for Trump and doesn’t think he’s a problem. I mean he’s not a Nazi. He just doesn’t want black people living in his neighborhood. He just doesn’t want a mosque in town. He buys comics at your local shop. He dated your oldest cousin. No Nazis here. He just goes to his job at the school, or the bank, or the plant and pours his poison out unawares while deciding folks’ futures. ‘Russia’ couldn’t have gotten in, ‘Nazis’ couldn’t have gotten in if American bigots (majority of racists here) hadn’t left the door open. And you guys still refuse to shut and lock it. Or even admit there is an opening. Y’all are screwed, because this is a huge weakness—one you broadcast internationally to the world on the regular. And this obsession with Nazis and Russia is like hunting down a fly that got into a house infested with roaches. I don’t like flies either, but at least spray some Raid with the hand that’s not holding the flyswatter.”

Regarding Donald Trump’s comment on “peaceful” protests and the Women’s March:

“Please note the ‘peaceful.’ He is trying to bring as many white women back over to his side as he can with that. ‘Peaceful’ will be used as a wedge to separate the issues that affect white women from those which specifically affect women of color. The former will be addressed—after all the white women were ‘peaceful’ and asked so nicely—the latter will not. He is hoping you will turn your backs on us. That when you see black and brown women being brutalized for pleading for their children’s lives you will smugly assume that we did something to deserve it. That we weren’t ‘peaceful.’ Please don’t fall for this. Don’t gather up the birth control and equal pay he might give you and step over our broken bodies to leave.”

On the presence of young anarchists at political protests:

“You want to fight fascism? Whoo, man! That’s great. I’m excited with how down you are. But I just want to make something clear to you before you run out in the street to bash Nazis. This is not Nazi Fucking Germany. This is America—land of Klansmen and black scapegoats. Every brick, every punch, every fire? You own that shit with your skin. Don’t you dare hide behind peaceful black people. Don’t you come to our well-organized protests and throw wrenches into our shit. Nobody sent for you. It’s hard—especially when you are young and especially when you have privilege—to see this as a game or a saga. To put yourself in the role of savior or freedom fighter. Marginalized people aren’t your sidekicks though. Not your princesses. Your passion is appreciated. But these are folks who have been putting in work in arenas you know little about. Let them lead. And speak. And, of course, speak for yourself (no need for translators) in the places those groups can’t access. And that is the work that is hardest to convince the privileged to do. To speak at the dinner table instead of the street. Nobody hands out awards for that. No retweets or photos. Just the quiet work of making your circle better. It’s worth it though.”

On Trump versus the American news media:

“Trump’s whole appeal is making white people feel like winners through his successes. Can’t do that without the platform they are huddled around. And without actual success. Right now the people who wanted confirmation via Trump that whiteness made them inherently good see Trump being humiliated. Trump is a loser and if cable news starts being honest about that those folks will pick a new white person to live vicariously through. Dear God, hopefully Evan McMullin or someone similar. The ‘alt-right’ media (and Trump) pushed a lie to white people that they were inherently better but also unwanted, unappreciated, and enlisted in a culture war. One they could win by voting for Trump. And cable news refused to push back on those lies. The truth is there’s no war and they have a seat at the table. We’d just prefer they’d stop breaking glasses and stabbing folks with shards. We just spent two days marching and laughing about punching Nazis together. If the news media keeps stressing that? The empire falters.”

On the recent debate about engaging Nazi leader Richard Spencer—physically or verbally:

“We should also stress that it is okay and morally right to shun a Nazi. Nazis do not get a spot on the debate team. You do not have to hear them out. Groups who in between murdering print up little garbage booklets advocating genocide do not get airtime. This man was being interviewed by ABC. That is shameful. How many marginalized groups will never have the privilege of that platform? America was about to give a Klansman a reality show. When is the last time you saw a Native American dude on one? Not everybody is built for punching and I’d like all y’all not to go to jail over these losers, but the next time some message board schmuck is like ‘Even Nazis should be heard’ and that ish is not immediately shut down that is a moral failure that needs addressing. There is a thin line between fedoras and swastikas and the right thing to do is build a giant wall there. Shun early. Block often.”

And again as writer Nick Spencer entered the debate:

“The thing about Nick Spencer is while everyone is all ‘Dude, how can you write Cap?’—they don’t understand it’s Falcon that’s the issue. Comics is literally chock full of these white moderates speaking for and over black people through black characters to the point where I feel like I can’t breathe. And every week a new lead is announced with some white person grinning ear-to-ear about it like it helps. This is ruining black characters for me because white moderates are the ones allowed to bring you a simulation of African American culture. It’s not black people. It’s never black people. We get the pretend African country as if it’s not safe for one of us to show you black American thought, love, families, culture. As if these things have to be filtered through white hands like guards handle convict mail. And it makes for terrible books. It makes for a terrible universe the way you silence us—but softly through a lack of opportunity and a refusal to network with us instead of a punch or a law. No wonder you get so bent out of shape with people actually calling out violence with violence. If we go ‘eye for an eye’ we might turn our backs on your work as you’ve turned your backs on us.”


‘Ello there!

We are all aware of Ello, yes?

Slowly my Twitter list has been making its way to the new social media outlet. Having opened an account last night, I’ve spent the better part of the morning poking through the accounts of friends, amusedly observing their interests and acquaintances. It’s nice to see Ello reinforce my belief that I’ve surrounded myself with a number of smart and sweet people.

But what of the site that contains said people? Compared to its competitors (Facebook and Google Plus), Ello appears unfinished. I’d like to see features such as verification, customization, and a stringent policy regarding harassment added. In fact, the lack of customization—the ability to alter my profile page to match my main website—has kept me from utilizing Facebook and Google Plus, and has soured me considerably on Twitter. If I can’t have my pink and purple? Well, I just don’t want to be there.

However, I’ve given Ello considerably more leeway simply because it contains the people I like. (This is also why I continue to cling to Twitter.) Ello is Facebook or Google Plus sans the conservative bent and microaggressions that are often found on the two more mainstream social media sites. Ello is new and experimental—which means there is little obligation to interact with every distant relative and former coworker or classmate. Communication is limited to those with whom one has something in common. Connections are fostered through respect and interest rather than rote recognition.

I am extremely cautious on Twitter (to be fair, I don’t trust many), limiting my interactions to those with an interest in talking to me (rather than the motive of wishing to use me as a resource). My Twitter list is miniscule, and guided by the answer to one simple question: would I invite this person to a dinner party in my home?

Yet Ello is clearly reminiscent of Facebook rather than Twitter, and allows for less personal connections. It is the public soirée to Twitter’s private discussions over cocktails. I’ve wrestled with the decision as to whether or not to interact with new people on Ello and have yet to make a commitment regarding how I will use the site. However, I am leaning towards being more open—sociable. After all, is that not what social media is for?


Ferguson.

I forced myself to go to sleep at a decent hour last night. I hadn’t gotten a good night’s sleep since Mike Brown’s lids had closed forever—every waking moment since his last spent refreshing screens and consuming information and caffeine in likely dangerous quantities. A complete abandonment of any kind of long-form writing occurred; my words, angry and erratic, were quickly shot off via Twitter and Tumblr.

I’m still angry—for the obvious reasons. I’m angry that black life is worthless to people who are not black in America (and to some who are). I’m angry that Americans believe that we deserve the inequality heaped upon us for the crime of simply being black. The murder. The harassment. The silencing. The erasure. The blackballing. The punishment. I’m mad that many Americans still view black people as solely an inexhaustible resource to exploit, leeching from black communities and black cultures while promoting anti-blackness and purporting to speak for while speaking over black people.

But for the first time in a very long time I am also grateful. Because for all the comparisons between Ferguson and Selma, Ferguson is very different. Technology has provided black people the ability to burrow past the mainstream media and allow for black people to have a voice. And that voice is strong and unfiltered on Twitter and on Tumblr and in personal journals. And yes, the voice contradicts itself because black people are not a monolith and have a beautiful and infuriating and brilliant array of ideas.

We have never had a situation where black voices could not be crushed or warped beyond their meaning before. The television stations are owned by white people. The movie studios are owned by white people. The newspapers are owned by white people. The music labels are owned by white people. The radio stations are owned by white people. The publishing houses are owned by white people. They are owned by those who have been taught that black life and black cultures are worthless. And their teachings show in their word choice. It shows in the promotion and overexposure of negative depictions of black people. It shows in the dearth of positive voices. It shows in the selection of only black employees and clients who will mimic the tropes regarding black people that they have come to hold dear—the big black buck, the Jezebel, the tragic mulatto, the Sapphire, the Mammy, the minstrel—or it shows in the selection of no black people at all.

And for a very long time? It worked, churning out anti-black propaganda for centuries like a well-oiled machine, with black people having little recourse to combat it because we owned next to nothing. We stood on soap boxes, screaming to anyone who would listen that we were human and of worth, while those who opposed us controlled screens and airwaves across the nation.

That is thankfully no longer the situation we find ourselves in. When the mainstream media erroneously claimed black looters had taken control of Ferguson last night, black people were able to effectively use modern technology—affordable to most Americans—to show young black people protecting stores, not looting them. Pictures of black men using their own bodies as barriers with police nowhere in sight or on site to provide assistance, popped up across Twitter, gaining power with each reblog, barreling into the public consciousness. While Fox News is able to alter reality for a segment of old, technology-averse people salivating for tales of the black savage, their children and grandchildren are pulling up apps to hear directly from black men themselves. That is new and so very necessary.

And it is not just the news that affordable technology has altered. Black art is now able to reach the masses in an unfiltered state via online organizations such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, allowing black creators to obtain the funds necessary to compete with the output of major publishing houses and movie studios that shun or subvert them. Square allows creators to sell directly to the people. WordPress and Tumblr allow black writers to reach an international audience in seconds. The means of distribution are no longer solely owned by white people; black art cannot be papered over mere moments after its creation. The mainstream media will most certainly continue to attempt to drown out or alter black voices, but those voices have been amplified by technology and sharpened by fury and determination. The task won’t be nearly as easy.

And I’m glad.


Not all men.

“The interesting thing I’ve noticed about these dudes from (1) listening to the #yesallwomen discussion and (2) being a ‘geek’ is that they’d be just as furious if women developed their own communities and completely ignored them. They don’t want to drive women out of ‘their’ spaces. They want silent women there to yell at and poke.” Cheryl Lynn Eaton

I’m not a professional in an entertainment field nor am I a noteworthy critic. My status allows me the blissful opportunity to avoid interacting with the bigots found on countless social media outlets. I feel guilty because I see women who have remained in those fields—women who I admire deeply—forced to endure the daily hateful invectives of individuals who clearly despise them. They are despised because they are women in a position of authority where they are able to influence the existing narrative. For men who feel socially impotent, the idea that one they’ve deemed to be a lesser being could earn a position greater than their own is infuriating. They wish for those in positions of power in their community to look and sound like them. As long as that status quo remains intact, their worth remains affirmed.

At first I believed these men just wanted to be left alone—that they had built a community where they were no longer socially ostracized and did not want anyone to intrude upon it. As a black woman, I certainly understand the need for a “safe space” and had no problem leaving them be. My written work is limited to my personal website. The Ormes Society has shifted its focus from mainstream black characters to devote more attention to black women working in the webcomic and indie circuit. My Twitter account is private. I am now what these men have angrily demanded—a woman who has no interest in interacting with them nor is all that concerned with changing the content they enjoy.

And yet I’ve received hate mail regarding content published on my personal website. Men have requested to follow me on Twitter for the sole purpose of arguing with me. They enter threads dedicated to women in comics to accuse women of being lesser talents set to poison the industry. I’ve come to realize that these men do not want women to “go away.” They want women to stay and silently accept their abuse. Their self-worth as men is entirely dependent upon telling women and people of color that they are lesser beings. And if women and minorities are not present to be told this these men are then forced to examine themselves and be judged upon their own merit. For the men who have been found lacking and have retreated to these communities due to being shunned by the mainstream this notion is terrifying.

I’ve no solution for these men. Their hateful behavior is going to continue to result in women choosing my path and ceasing to interact with them or storming angrily into their communities to dismantle them. No individual will willingly endure abuse when there are other options available.


The meddling of middling mediums.

Facebook, WordPress, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and more—how did we gain so many accounts, so many methods to express ourselves, and yet lose our individuality? Eons away from the unique backgrounds and browsing tunes found in the heyday of MySpace and LiveJournal, almost every social media site has become a blend of muted blues. The only personalization to be found is in the blitzkrieg of advertisements bombarding users.

The homogenization is strange. Sites such as Facebook (and the newly revamped Twitter) have stripped the user of the chance to utilize design in building a brand across social media outlets. Instead, the sites dictate the uniform layout, color, and font to be used. I would accuse the instrument of wishing to outshine its wielder, but given the bland similarities between sites one certainly can’t argue that social media outlets are attempting to establish themselves via design.

Tumblr and WordPress, to the grateful relief of small businesses everywhere, are the odd men out. Both organizations have blithely handed users the keys to their respective castles, allowing the user to dictate not only the content published, but the container in which said content arrives.

Why is this important? Visual repetition is needed to build a brand and embed oneself within the collective consciousness. We immediately know what golden arches signify; we have connected hot pink and cursive font to a particular product. Most small companies do not have the power to build franchises across the nation or dominate aisles in retail stores. For these organizations the repetition of linking a particular design and product must occur digitally. When sites such as Twitter deny companies the ability to do this by limiting design features they prevent companies from achieving their full marketing potential.

Without a wholly unique design, one’s content or product must assume the responsibility of distinctiveness. And in these times? Distinctiveness is in extremely short supply.


Rinse and retweet.

The new Twitter design is ghastly and determined to stamp out a user’s unique design sensibilities. I hate it. Having forced its preferred blue color scheme on all users, I have to wonder how Twitter’s design will be welcomed by companies that have linked their popular products to particular colors—such as Mattel’s trademarked pink—especially when those colors quite clearly clash with Twitter’s chosen hues.

If an average Jane such as myself is annoyed at the loss of her preferred color scheme, I can only imagine how marketing reps overseeing carefully constructed brands must feel.


This or that?

After stuffing myself digitally, sampling each new email client or social media service to boldly make itself available, I am now attempting to put myself on a digital diet. What bests represents me? What best fits in with my online life?

Outlook vs. Gmail: Oh, this is a tough one. Gmail appeals to me. The ease of use is immense. It’s tucked right into my favorite search engine! However, I’m leaning more towards Outlook. The clean interface, the ability to access Twitter and LinkedIn updates, and the connection to the Microsoft brand are all alluring. Yes, with all the adoration that is heaped on Apple, I still remain a Microsoft chick. The reduced prices on software offered to students helped me cross the digital divide when I struggled financially. It cemented the idea of Microsoft as a brand “of the people” in my head. Heck, I still can’t afford the MacBook Air or iPhone that is seemingly standard for Apple enthusiasts. But I dream about the Surface, so no matter!

An interesting aside: I do not like the fact that logging into Gmail logs me into Youtube—and YouTube then tracks the videos I watch. I have no need for a viewing history. If I want to remember a clip, I’ll bookmark it. I am wary about why this information is being gathered and who it is being shared with.

Google Plus vs. Facebook: No matter which option is chosen, the result is terrible. The Plus interface is clunky and confusing. However, should one manage to get past initial set-up issues, the content found is generally superior to that found on Facebook and is geared more towards my specific interests. Facebook is NBC; Google Plus is Syfy. And just as everyone tunes into NBC, so is Facebook used by the masses. To connect with family members, coworkers, clients, and friends the network is required. However, the lack of control is infuriating! There remains no customization for profile pages, users can upload terrible photos of an individual and tag them for all to see, and one is subject to endless twinkling religious GIFs or bawdy jokes from relatives—all within view of one’s boss or potential date. I remain undecided. I suppose I’ll maintain an account with both and revisit the matter in a month.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn has no competition; I can think of no other organization that compares! Yes, there are other wonderful sites that help me gather news regarding the publishing industry, but LinkedIn allows me to learn from my peers. I check the site frequently. It’s great.

Tumblr vs. Pinterest: I’m surprised that Pinterest is so admired by women given what I find to be a complete lack of socialization. It’s no more than an organized bulletin board or Amazon wish list. I’m online to interact with others. And Pinterest does not provide me with that opportunity in the same manner as Tumblr. Though chaotic in regards to organization, the Tumblr design is much more open to online conversations, which I adore. And I can customize Tumblr in order to bring it in line with my own design sensibilities.

Tumblr is like flipping through television channels while at a boisterous party—a flood of images and comments at once. Pinterest is akin to flipping though a stack of magazines lent to you by friends. You see what interests them and can mark those pages, but there is little to no conversation taking place. Pinterest is media without the social. I’ll keep my Pinterest account in case changes are made over time, but Tumblr is where I will remain active. The popularity of Pinterest shows how we as a culture are dominated by the desire to consume and how we define ourselves by what we are able to obtain.

Twitter: There are those who use Twitter to promote themselves, but I use Twitter as a glorified chat room and wouldn’t have it any other way. I tried to alter the way I use Twitter by following companies and celebrities, but that grew tiresome quickly. Again, I want current topics and conversation, not ads. And unlike many, my Twitter account is set to private. I’d been followed by a great deal of people who chose not to interact with me at all; the voyeuristic aspect of it was off-putting. With a private account, I no longer feel as if I’m giving a speech or being used as a marketing tool with each tweet. Simply put, Twitter is the social networking service I use the most because the opportunity to socialize is the highest.

Nucleus vs. WordPress: Nucleus wins. Given that I have multiple blogs, there’s simply no other option! However, I’m fond of the fact that WordPress blogs can be linked to Klout. Impressive. Though my journal isn’t updated as frequently as my Tumblr or Twitter account, I still plan to use it to post in-depth comments on random topics—like this one, I suppose!