“I got fired last year in Las Vegas from the Frontier Hotel for saying ‘shit’, in a town where the big game is called ‘crap’.” –George Carlin, FM & AM
So, a lot’s been happening to me over the past however long it’s been since I last said something here. I’m deep into rehearsal for two shows at the Island Shakespeare Festival. I handed in some writing that was needed for an art project here in Bellevue that’ll be unveiled in September. I just found out this morning that I have another short story coming out in August.
Oh, and I got myself booted off Twitter.
How, you may ask, did this happen? No, I didn’t finally lose my mind and threaten Donald Trump. Milo Yiannopoulus didn’t take possession of my account and start harassing actors, and I’m not selling brain enhancement pills or yammering about crisis actors at mass shootings.
I did none of these things. What I did was respond to this tweet from Lindsay Beyerstein a couple of weeks ago.
My response? This:
Now, before I go further, I’ll admit that this little jest of mine was hardly the stuff of Moliere or Wilde. I was doing what I often do for a laugh on Twitter, which is to take someone else’s words, in this case Mr. Gordon’s bombastic self-description as a “scourge of cowardice and heterodoxy”, and exaggerate it. My tweet was hastily written, as most tweets are, and I’m not deeply in love with it, but to take it as a serious threat against the heterodoxy–which, if Mr. Gordon means those who dissent from Catholic teachings, includes me*–is a mistake that only a silly person or some sort of overly literal computer program that can’t follow context would…
Oh, yeah. Right.
You see, I didn’t know that Twitter’s algorithm seeks out phrases like “I will kill you” and automatically assumes they’re threats. This sounds like a pretty good approach–who apart from psychopaths appreciates death threats?–until you find out that this has led to the suspension of video gamers (not usually a group that has my sympathy, but in this case…) who playfully tweet these words back and forth at opponents, or the Japanese man whose account got dinged because he tweeted his delight at having killed a mosquito. Why didn’t I know this? Because I don’t make it a habit to harass or threaten people, so I don’t keep up on exactly what words will get me bitten by Twitter’s auto-watchdog. More fool me.
I’ve appealed Twitter’s suspension of my account, but it’s been two weeks and I’ve heard nothing. I wasn’t going to say anything while their process was going on, but I’m becoming less confident by the day that there is any kind of process going on, and people who might miss me on Twitter may want to know where to find me. I wish Twitter would be more sensible about this. I put a lot of work into building my following and hate to see it go over something so ridiculous, but nobody guaranteed me a life free of silliness galumphing by and fucking up my shit. (As if life in TrumpWorld weren’t enough of a reminder of this.)
For those of you I interacted with on Twitter, I do miss you. My world’s more interesting with you in it. I’m still here. Follow the blog. Follow me on instagram. You can even follow my Facebook professional page if you like hearing from me only once every 10 years. Say hello. Comment on stuff. We’ll hang. Maybe not as often. Blogging takes more time than tweeting, and as the first paragraph already said, I’m busy these days, but I always like hearing from you.
*The Heterodoxy could also refer to a feminist debating society of early 20th century New York City. I couldn’t count myself as a member. Almost everyone affiliated with it was dead before I was born, but they seemed like people I’d have liked to have known–I directed one of Susan Glaspell’s plays when I was a college student–and I wouldn’t have threatened them either.
Update 7/9: Twitter denied my appeal, so I gather that’s it for me and the platform. So it goes.