This train of thought started because of a Twitter trend that’s been bugging me for a while, and also because a friend of mine was venting about it recently.
There’s this thing where people will go around “informing” people to avoid following or interacting with XYZ Person because XYZ Person has been deemed “problematic” in some way. The way in which XYZ Person is problematic is irrelevant to the point of this post, so I’m not going to cite any examples whatsoever.
The way in which these people go about “informing” people is really unkind, though. In some cases they go so far as to say that you’re problematic for following XYZ Person. Even if you have no idea what the fuss is even about.
I’ve got nothing against informing people in a kind and polite way that XYZ Person did this and that, and that this is a problem for Insert-Reason-Here. That’s fine. What’s not fine is things like “Hey it’s really bad of you to support XYZ Person, they’re awful and bad. You’re part of the problem for doing this.”
Following some person on Twitter isn’t even supporting them. Neither is the occasional retweet of something (presumably non-problematic) that they posted.
Just because XYZ Person is problematic in ABC way, doesn’t mean that literally everything they do is awful and bad and has no value whatsoever. That’s black and white thinking, and it’s unhealthy. People with problematic beliefs/behaviours can post interesting things. People with problematic beliefs/behaviours people can be nice sometimes, too. Hell, maybe the people going on a tirade about their badness are misinterpreting things, or maybe their beliefs are problematic – that’s also entirely possible.
If someone wants nothing to do with XYZ Person because of some problematic thing they did – that’s totally valid. It’s their personal choice to avoid that person, and it’s totally valid. But to shame other people for not making the same choice? That’s not okay.
I think the people going around shaming people for who they follow have a bad case of nothing-better-to-do-itis. Surely there’s some way they could use that energy in a constructive way? If XYZ Person is being problematic towards ABC People, maybe instead of shaming people for following XYZ Person, go do something to help ABC People instead. If XYZ Person loses maybe 10 or 100 followers because of this shaming campaign, will they even notice? Will they even care? Probably not. So this shaming tactic is pointless at best, and also harmful because it creates an atmosphere of people being afraid to share things they like on Twitter in case the person whose post they’re sharing happens to be considered “problematic” by some random person, who will then proceed to shame them for sharing it. It’s like walking on eggshells around an abusive person, except on the internet.
So if you were looking for a reason to block and/or avoid members of the Shaming Squad, you have my permission. Their tactics are manipulative and abusive. It’s okay to want to avoid them.
Following or interacting with XYZ Problematic Person is not some horrible crime against humanity. You’re not hurting anyone by doing this.
You’re not a bad person for following whoever you want to, for whatever damn reason you please. It’s none of anyone else’s business who you follow or why. It’s okay to find some value in the posts of people who are deemed problematic by random strangers on the internet.
Personally, I’ll block or unfollow people who use these kinds of hostile “informing” tactics. I just don’t have the spoons to deal with that kind of negativity. Either be nice about it or GTFO my feed!