Me and Fucking Social Media

So here’s the teeniest bit of backstory, on that tweet, which I sent out less than an hour before starting this article. I got into a charged thread on Twitter. A guy deliberately refused to concede he’d said something patently and demonstrably false. I said that if he found this joke he was defending funny, then fuck it and fuck him, and then I blocked him. And then I got another tweet, from his sockpuppet account, with this message.

I never said I found it funny, i can tell your obviously very emotionally charged right now. Guessing that why you blocked me and are now tweeting away about it, thinking you done something. No need to swear at me. Have a nice day now.

So some admin here — yeah that’s verbatim, and yeah I reported him for using a sockpuppet to get around my blocking him, and now said sockpuppet is suspended.

One can easily infer that he perceives two behaviors simultaneously as demonstrative of being in a heavy emotional state; swearing and blocking someone. Both of these perceptions are pretty stupid and arrogant.

But we’ll work those in reverse for reasons which will become obvious. One, blocking someone is not a sign of being emotionally overwrought for most people. Because anyone who has been on Twitter for any length of time, and deals with assholes like this guy, knows the signs that you’ve got a troll on the line and it’s best to cut out quickly. I block people constantly. And no doubt, some other asshole will accuse me of creating an echo chamber via blocking. But that’s just more gaslighting bullshit and we all know it.

Here are some examples of people I blocked yesterday, as part of that exact same thread. There was the guy who had RT’d one of the Patrick memes that was captioned something like, “When the drugs you slipped in her drink have kicked in.” Now there’s someone I need to take seriously in a conversation, right? Many gentlemen were blocked because their every reference to women involved calling them either a bitch or a hoe. There were several hard-core #MAGA boys and NRA-mouthpieces; I suspect at least three of them were Russian bots. And then there was that guy whose feed mostly just consisted of him talking about sports and telling other people on Twitter to shut up. Okay, actually there were about a half dozen of those guys. I was trying to be kind.

The point is that; despite the fact that I block readily, I do not block indiscriminately. If you’re the kind of shithead who thinks abuse constitutes conversation, or who is incapable of acknowledging your mistakes, you’re out of here*. I have better things to do with my time than argue piss into the wind.

And thus, we come onto the second inference. Swearing=emotionally charged. Sorry, gimme a second to stop laughing, because it happens every time I see that equation.

Anyone whose read my work over the years knows how I feel about language and restricting it by elimination of ‘blue language’. Along with many other writers, comics and just people who live in the fucking world, I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “bad word**.” And if some language has a shade of blue, well that’s fortunate, because blue’s a great color on me.

The simple truth is, if I only ever said the word fuck when I was emotionally charged, I would live in a perpetual stage of either rage or lust. Honestly I find neither of those appealing. If you’re being an asshole, I’ll call you one, regardless of how bothered I am by your assholishness. If a situation is shitty, it doesn’t need to be monumentally shitty for me to say so. And if I’m dealing with a trolling twat in my timeline, well you get the point.

Most supposed swear words are just exclamations or modifiers. But my favorites are when they themselves enhance the modifier. Think about the distinction between a condescending jerk and a condescending twat? The word condescending takes on a more eye-rolling dimension when you change it to twat. In fact, speaking of twat (which I pronounce like cat not bot), there actually is one word I use far more in conversation, but only with certain people, and that I actively stop myself from using online as much as I am inclined to. That word is (brace yourselves) cunt.

Now you expect me to say how it’s just so utterly offensive to women that I wouldn’t dare. But no, it’s because I’m sick and tired of arguing with women who buy that bullshit. It is without doubt that many swear words originate in toxic masculinity, and cunt is among them. But this (mostly U.S. attitude) that somehow cunt is so much worse than bitch, whore, slut, cow, minger or harpy is ludicrous. It doesn’t matter which word they use. If a man calls me something intending to denigrate me specifically on the basis that I am woman, the word he uses has jack shit to do with it, even if it’s a word HE thinks is so much worse than the others. And when I call a man a cunt it’s not because I’m emasculating him, it’s because a cunt is slightly different to a dickhead, which is slightly different to an asshole, which is not quite the same thing as a fuckstick, a twat or a prick.

And yes, I had the same views about the word cunt before I started watching massive amounts of UK comedy, but watching it has increased my desire to use the word more freely. And I frustrate myself with my hesitancy.

I have a very complex relationship with using some words in my social media posts, not because I think the words are offensive, but because of specific complications those words entail. If I want more people to feel comfortable retweeting something that I believe is important — like a brilliant opinion piece or investigative report — it’s going to be disseminated further if words like fuck and cunt are nowhere near it. But sometimes, often even, it really pisses me off to leave those words out. If I am deliberately censoring myself, that means I truly feel that the fucking modifier belongs in that sentence, or the person at the center of this story is a real cunt.

I know, some would suggest that there are times and places for using “such language,” and that’s why I’m censoring myself. Overall, I also think that’s bullshit on some level too. Yes, it’s almost never going to be appropriate to say fuck at a funeral or in a third-grade classroom. But my articles and Twitter feed are sure as hell not either of those environments. The reason I need to censor myself is because of that same silly equation, which led to the tweet at the top of this tale.

Because too many people associate words like fuck or shit with anger, aggression and being verbally attacked, even when there’s no vehemence behind the word to support that perception. Do you remember this little moment between the brilliant Carol Kane and Stephen Collins in the film “Jumpin’ Jack Flash?”

Cynthia: I’d like to say that it’s a pleasure to welcome you to our little family. Oh, I see you already have a little family. Well, shit. Welcome anyway.

Sure, Cynthia is disappointed, but I don’t think anyone imagines that her use of shit means she’s angry or attacking Marty, right?

Most likely, people who assume any use of ‘cuss words’ is a sign of anger is because they, themselves, only use the words when they’re really cheesed off. And I, for one, am not telling those people they need to use those words in any other way or at any other time. They just need to accept that how they use them isn’t how everyone else does.

A popular phrase that is gaining momentum in many conversations these days is, “Just because you wouldn't choose to do something doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with others choosing to do it.” We’re all prone to this, assuming that the way you’d do or say something is the ‘correct’ way. A few weeks ago I got quite offended at a tweet because I didn’t know a specific word had a sub-definition I’d never heard of before. Luckily I ended up looking the word up before expressing my frustration, but I haven’t always been so fortunate.

This kind of presumption follows us everywhere. I wouldn’t choose that job, so people who would are messed up. I wouldn’t choose that hobby, so people who do are weird. I wouldn’t choose that lifestyle, so people who do are deviant. I wouldn’t choose to fuck like that, so even if it’s consensual, it’s perverse and immoral. We all need to stop and accept that what we choose is not inherently right and what others choose is not inherently wrong.

And that applies so much to how we communicate that it’s mind-blowing. I can’t stand people who completely ignore the rules of grammar, spelling and punctuation on Twitter or Facebook. Which means that when someone does that while also articulating themselves well and making valid points, I have to work hard to reign in my knee jerk reaction to think they’re fuckwits. And while I’ve been chatting online since when IRC was barely breaking into DALnet, I still don’t get the whole talking in sporadic capital letters thing. But I also am one of the last people in the country to learn how to type on an actual typewriter.

I work hard to look past what I view as the ‘wrong’ way to communicate and see the message instead of the delivery method. To see what people are saying before I focus on how they’re saying it. I falter, but I don’t stop putting in that effort. And others need to do the same.

If you take it as aggressive or an attack on you, when someone calls one of your points fucking bullshit, that’s not on them, it’s on you. And if you’re repeatedly refusing to acknowledge the facts in a discussion, and someone tells you to fuck off, it doesn’t mean you pushed their emotional buttons until they overloaded. It means they deemed you no longer worthy of debating with, because of said refusal. Because most people — those who use naughty words and those who don’t — are perfectly capable of being vehement without being emotionally overwrought.

*FYI — If I find your views and attitude mildly nauseating, but you’re not flat out offensive, then usually I just Mute you. 
**Please don’t insult either of us by throw things like racial slurs at me and claiming that I am saying they are not bad. The phrase “bad words” is not generic, and anyone with half a brain knows what words I’m talking about in that air quote.