There’s a lot of buzz going on today about #TwitterSilence, a ‘movement’ to stop tweeting for the duration of Sunday, August 4th in order to protest Twitter’s recent failure to respond to threats made against women on the site. Plenty of people are saying it’s a great idea while plenty of others argue that silencing oneself to protest being silenced is counter-productive.
While I respect this argument, I’m going to be participating in #TwitterSilence (not that I tweet a whole lot anyway) and here’s why:
In my estimation #TwitterSilence is pretty similar to the LGBT Day of Silence. For those unfamiliar, the idea behind this event is to draw attention to the fact that LGBT people are all too often silenced in our society by refusing to speak throughout the day unless absolutely necessary. In this same way, #TwitterSilence draws attention to the individuals who are being silenced by the lack of response to treats made against them. It’s not about silencing ourselves; it’s about standing in solidarity with those who have been silenced, and hopefully drawing attention to the problem. After all, I have never received threats on Twitter, let alone had my reports ignored. So in this way, I have not been silenced (yet). But I can stand in solidarity with those who have been (or who have had people try to do so).
2. Twitter Is a Place
Those arguing that to stay off Twitter for a day is to silence oneself seem to view Twitter solely as a means of communication. To me Twitter is also a place. It is a virtual location where people come together and interact with one another. In this way, refusing to Tweet is the same as not shopping at a store known for discriminating against LGBT individuals, or refusing to associate with someone who is blatantly racist or a restaurant that shows blatant disregard to employees sexually harassing the female wait staff. If a place refuses to live by certain standards, then why go there? Leaving for a day can show Twitter that we are serious about holding them accountable to certain standards.
Which brings us to:
3. Twitter is a Business
If nobody is Tweeting, nobody will go on Twitter. If nobody goes on Twitter, Twitter will make no money. And in a capitalist society, that is often the single fastest way to change a company. So don’t think of it as silence. Think of it as a boycott. Because that’s what it is. And with any luck, it will be an effective one