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Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Bait Is Evolving

Twitter genuinely needs to die for the benefit of humanity.

It is very rare that I would genuinely say that a form of speech should be taken away, but if there is one that I sincerely feel needs to be stopped, it's Twitter. The now-arbitrary character limit breeds lack of context (be it intentional or otherwise), and the sheer volume of communication in such brief snippets breeds confusion and contempt when that lack of context comes into play.

It's a playground for misunderstanding and miscommunication, and nowhere is more clear than when one of these 'hate campaigns' starts. I am reminded of the aftermath of the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with the scene of the Tattooine Jakku desert and Finn's head popping up in his Stormtrooper outfit, when some lore-heavy nerd's first thought was "Wait, how is there a black Stormtrooper? Weren't they all cloned from a Maori guy?"

Thus began a game of Chinese Quantum-Entanglers that ended with mainstream press outlets reporting on violent white supremacists on Twitter raging about "The Black Stormtrooper"... and then it turned out the movie had gone with the Extended Universe strategy of conscription and enlistment in the twenty or so years since the end of Return of the Jedi, and that this wasn't even the Empire, and Finn had a perfectly good reason for being there. But the point still stands that there were maybe six people, all obvious trolls from their profiles and other tweets, that were 'raging' over "The Black Stormtrooper", and the media, hungry for controversy, picked them up and ran with a global white supremacist nerd conspiracy as the headline.

This time, though... this is different. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, and during LGBT Pride Month, the hashtag #HeterosexualPrideDay started to trend. Dutifully, the media picked up the story and ran like crazy. They ran hard, without doing even the most basic of research, which is what I did instead.
Google Translate can't even figure that out completely. 

The first tweet reads something like "I am a man gatda example cheonge coincidence hetero pride daeyi tag 've achieved so laughter and pain" and the second one "Sincere people who really funny flame went bosae."

I can't be 100% certain what it means, but from context of the words that were successfully translated, it would appear to be a South Korean trying to bait a reaction. Trying and failing, as it seems the hashtag had very little traction until at least June 22, at which point since it's been one half ironic mockery of straight people and one half outrage at the existence of the hashtag. This isn't just a troll this time, it's self-perpetuating troll bait. There was no troll campaign like the half-dozen twitter trolls trying to set a fire under "The Black Stormtrooper" situation; this was literally people searching for #HeterosexualPrideDay in the hopes of being outraged, and the media was no different.

And so, since then, I've been seeing outrage stories from the likes of The Guardian and Huffington Post popping up on my feeds, and personal missives from people angry at those darned heteros, and I've been trying to defuse the situation where I can... but at this point I can't be patient anymore. I'm just disappointed. I mean, I understand it if some really clever trolls manufacture a situation that sets everyone off -- that's what they do -- but in the absence of effective trolls, we're now making our own outrage.

Please, I beg you: Stop using Twitter. One day, there will be nuclear fire, and it will be because someone said something on Twitter and a whole shed-load of people overreacted. And I'll sit there amongst the ashes, cackling and saying I told you so. And you don't want me to be right, do you? Not on that scale. Not even *I* want that.

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