Monday, November 11, 2013

The Old Sending-Abuse-To-A-Stranger Thing

I have a policy on Twitter: I never retweet praise or abuse. I might link to a review of something and I feel completely at liberty to promote whatever I'm up to but I don't retweet praise or abuse. I didn't  arrive at that conclusion immediately - I'm sure I took the bait (both sorts) a few times in my early days on Twitter - but that's where I've ended up. I don't for one minute hold that up as The Way It Should Be Done™ and I certainly follow several people who do one, the other or both on a regular basis and only occasionally do they make me wince... it's just that that's the way I personally feel most comfortable.

The recent series was an interesting time for all that because, obviously, it increased the rate of both. The word "troll" seems to be overused at the moment and I'm uncomfortable about using it here. It's now bandied about with such ease to describe anyone being even slightly anti-social online and I don't think it's useful to lump all such behaviour into one easily labelled pile. The person sending "you're shit" messages to someone they've just seen on the TV doesn't seem to me to be that comparable to, say, someone threatening sexual violence or going out of their way to upset some recently bereaved parents.

But I don't know what it should be called. It's not heckling. Heckling happens in a social context - a live show. And actually, while the media loves to portray live-comedy as a bear pit (boiler-plate press questionnaires always ask "what's the worst heckle you've ever had?" etc) comedy simply isn't the battle between performer and audience it's made out to be. Heckling rarely happens. People pay to see a show. They want to see a show. They rarely want to be the show.

Here's the thing. While the series was running I was getting a lot of feedback. It was overwhelmingly nice which made it easy to sweep aside the few abusive messages that arrived in amongst them. There were probably seven or eight people across the series and have been three or four since. I'm under no illusion that they're the only ones who didn't like it - but they were the only ones that decided to go out of their way to tell me they didn't. And that's the part that always seems weird to me. They're not trolls. They're not hecklers. They're just being a bit dickish.

I've never understood why it's supposed to be upsetting that a particular individual doesn't like me. Their tweet always says much more about their level of self-importance than anything else. I don't know any performer in any genre who thinks that what they do should please everyone. It's obvious that no matter what you do, some people won't like it. So everyone understands that what they do will please some and not others. Of course it does. So when someone sends me an abusive message the only piece of information they're bringing to the table is their name. I know some people don't like what I do. And now I can identify one of them. So? This could only be upsetting to me if I knew who they were. If they were someone whose opinion I valued and whose support I craved. Which makes their tweet look incredibly self-important and pompous. Because the act of sending it seems to say, "my opinion should be important to you. My opinions are facts. You should be upset about this because it is coming from me" and that's just weird. Self-importantly weird.

So to help those people out I've prepared this handy guide explaining - without rancour - why they look dickish to other people. It might be hard to read at this size, but if you click on it, it should be a little clearer. If not, you could try here.


31 comments:

Unknown said...

Only you David, only you! Ma xx

Katie Oldham said...

I've recently started recieving some really nasty messages about me, my blog and what I do... This shall now be my default picture response to them.

You're a champ!

Katie
www.scarphelia.com

RomfordReject said...

Nail....on....head!

paul davey said...

i think it needs a name mr G. i would go for "dickwittering" but thats probably some ones name.

gareth archer said...

I don't like this flowchart

Gareth
Glasgow

WiredUK said...

Dave's new series:

Modern Trolls are Dickish.

PS I loved the show!

Anonymous said...

I take great offence to these comments.

Richard Wittering

Anonymous said...

As long as you can use the material for more "found poems" don't let the fucktards get you down

Charlene Price said...

Great post. Is the first comment from you mum? That's so lovely!

Dave Gorman said...

@Katie Oldham: go for your life.

@Romford Reject: Ta!

@paul davey: I disagree that it needs a name. Giving it a name gives it a sense of purpose. It's just dickish.

@Anonymous: The ftards don't get me down. That's the point. I just find it confusing that they can't see how grandiose they appear.

@Charlene Price: Ha ha... I don't know for sure (I haven't asked) but yes, I suspect that's my Mum at the top. If it isn't, it's certainly in her style!

Craig Williams said...

Always seems odd to me. I bet they follow you too. It seems like following someone down the street and then telling them you don't like their after shave. Even stranger as I rarely wear after shave.

@seasidersteve said...

Can I save this blog and watch it later on demand?

Anthony Walton said...

The latest craze on my twitter feed is people sending strange "I've blocked you spammer" pictures to spammers ... What's that all about? I block spammers all the time, why make a song and dance about it? Do they feel they are bringing social media war criminals to justice or something .. I just don't get it?

Great blog!

Conor McKinstry said...

Sums it up quite nicely. I feel I may be being a dick in another internet way but there's a typo in the second paragraph of the big box in the top right hand corner. Sorry if that was dickish in another way.

Dave said...

You've typo'd course.

I know this post isn't about your shows in particular, but I wanted to let you know about your typo without sounding like a dick, so I would like to say your shows are amazing. We need more of them!

I feel there is some terrible grammar there. Apologies in advance.

Dave Gorman said...

@Conor McKinstry & Dave: The typos were fixed long before your posts... so maybe you both need to clear your cache or refresh the page or something?

Dave said...

Well said Dave

Andrew said...

Dave, what's the rule when the following happens (as I admit I did recently)-

I merely said on Twitter how I had switched my TV off at the first sight of a particular person (although I typed their name in full, I didn't type their username, so never expected them to see the message).

A few hours later I then happened to get in to a bit of an argument with this person as he had found my comment after searching for his own name (something he admitted doing on average daily) and responded to me in a fairly hostile way. I'm not sure whether I've fallen foul of the "dick" rule or not, or whether the unnamed "celebrity" did!?

Dave Gorman said...

@Andrew: I don't make the rules. I don't know. I don't understand why anyone regards tweeting as different to any other form of communication. For me: I see Twitter as a large pub. Realise who you are talking to and who else might overhear you. Then behave as seems fit.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am coming to this in the middle of things, but I find your definition of abuse poorly defined, and because of that cannot agree with your flowchart.

Sometimes when I visit a blog and give a critique, sarcastic or scathing, I am doing it to lodge a protest, point out a flaw, indicate a contradiction. I am certain, I know, this has been interpreted as abuse.

Do I think I "deserve" to be heard? The blogger or tweeter has enabled comments, so why are you even asking such a question?

Why should the person be upset if I don't like them? Why should my opinion be important to a stranger?

If my argument is strong, sure, why not?

I don't know what your flowchart is supposed to be saying other than you prefer only to read flattery about yourself.

I've never seen you, but I know you're very handsome.

Rob Z Tobor said...

I have always found what you do really good. Things only get bad when your family say you are rubbish. I get round this by locking them under the stairs in the dark.

Paul Kenyon said...

lol needs to be more offensive! remember... these trolls are used to hearing insults, that's commonly why they troll! In (pop?) psychology they refer to it as trasference isnit like. Sticks and stones tho eh, plenty of nice people for reassurance and the readies for ultimate proof of worth, the meritocracy element. Key is don't let the bastards leave you spitting the word "dick" ;-)

Dave Gorman said...

@Anonymous: your redefining the terms used and then disagreeing with them. I'd disagree with them too if they meant what you've decided they mean. In what world does leaving a scathing comment on a blog count as abuse? I mean abuse. Not disagreement. And if you disagree with a blog, the comments section of that blog is clearly the right place to voice that disagreement. But if you were walking round an art gallery and disliked one of the paintings, finding the artists twitter account and tweeting "You're shit" would be weird. And, y'know, dicksih.

Dave Gorman said...

@Paul Kenyon: they're not trolls. And nobody's spitting the word "dick". I chose it specifically because it's not the heaviest of insults. The point is - it doesn't upset in the way that they intend and just reveals their ego. In a dickish way. Nothing here is meant to be read as "Aggghhh... stop being such a dick, man!". It's more, "well yes, you can do that... but... well... you look like a dick when you do."

Paul Kenyon said...

:D you make it seem so factual Dave, dooming folk to dickdom. I'm sorry if my last post came out dickish, (I feel it did) except since you mentioned the pub rule I had a few. I suppose pubs vary in atmosphere and what would seem acceptable. I live in Chorley so... :D

Dave Gorman said...

@Paul Kenyon: I'm not dooming anyone to dickdom at all. 4 out of the 5 routes lead to dickdom (in my opinion). The 5th route seems inadvisable to me because - whether the sender means it that way or not - they create the impression of dickdom. It always amuses me that the people who do this - which seems so egotistical to me - frame everything in the same light. They think they're fighting and will frame every response as a victory. Ignore them & they tweet about how you're ignoring them because you know they're right. Reply and they claim that as validation. Block them and they crow about having got to you. It's all nonsense. I'm not saying you shouldn't do it, just explaining that if/when you do, the recipient will think you look like a dick.

There have been a couple of people arguing the toss with me on Twitter about it. It's a hilariously circular argument.
Them: This is wrong. I demand my right to abuse people.
Me: Okay. I'm not saying you can't. I just think it looks dickish.
Them: How dare you!

Anonymous said...

"@Anonymous: your redefining the terms used and then disagreeing with them. I'd disagree with them too if they meant what you've decided they mean. In what world does leaving a scathing comment on a blog count as abuse? I mean abuse. Not disagreement. And if you disagree with a blog, the comments section of that blog is clearly the right place to voice that disagreement."
Like I said, I may be coming in to the middle, but I precisely said your "but I find your definition of abuse poorly defined" and explained why.

I am positive that "scathing comments" on many blogs is counted as abuse and worse!

You and I over a beer might well agree that this comment and that comment is not abusive, but unfortunately the word "abuse" has been hijacked.

Look at the coverage of Adria Richards and how today many mainstream journalists report on the volumes of abuse heaped at Richards never conceding that Richards' behavior was problematic or even abusive of its own and that much of that "abuse" heaped on her was reasonable criticism.

So I am not ready to concede that any behavior some random blogger claims as abuse is actually dickish.

"But if you were walking round an art gallery and disliked one of the paintings, finding the artists twitter account and tweeting "You're shit" would be weird. And, y'know, dicksih."

Oddly, I think this is precisely the best use of Twitter, to connect people who would ordinarily have no ability to connect in a manner which is efficient, easy, and safe.

Of course tweeting out of the blue "you're shit" is not so much dickish and out of context and ineffectual in a way that most blog comments are not.

Steve Bousfield said...

Loved your series, shames its not on again, as I find the humour interlectual (Unlike my spelling, sorry Dave)

In fact love reading your blog, and found it very true and funny, and can certainly see the thought behind the chart.

Was wondering can I use it on my facebook page please?

Paul Kenyon said...

:D

"There have been a couple of people arguing the toss with me on Twitter about it. It's a hilariously circular argument.
Them: This is wrong. I demand my right to abuse people.
Me: Okay. I'm not saying you can't. I just think it looks dickish.
Them: How dare you!"

lol how very dare you!

...but I can see that now, thanks :D

But surely there's an argument for a larger more complex chart arguing more successful avenues of arguing an argument online? And surely some of the comments that only someone who really was a dick would bother to put to you would be quite suitable in some cases for instance in response so something the dancing-fellow-with-the-lisp-who-is-off-something-on-TV-but-I-don't-know-what might have posted?

Rebecca Morgan said...

Dave, there has never been, and never will be, a better flow chart than that in existence. Awesome.

Rebecca Morgan said...

Although admittedly this one is also good. http://culinarycheapskate.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/how-should-i-cook-my-beans.png