Mary Beard, who has recently been the victim of Twitter trolls and was famously threatened with rape via the micro blogging network, has responded to those that don’t understand her continued presence there with a blog post that could not echo more our own thoughts on the matter here at Idea Towers.
In a post entitled ‘Why tweet?’, the Cambridge Don answers the countless voices that have raised the question, ‘Why do you continue to expose yourself to all the abuse and unpleasantness that can come with voicing your opinions via a social network?’
There is nothing inherently the matter with the medium itself, she writes. The bottom line for me is whether we get more out of the medium than we lose.
She goes on to list the main benefits that she has enjoyed in being part of the Twitter community. The classics professor is able to encourage interaction with her subject from GCSE students, for instance and has met people through the medium that have since become friends. The overwhelming size of the network and global spread has allowed her to pursue leads in the field of archaeology and learn of new discoveries that she may otherwise have missed. Also intellectually, she benefits from its role as a forum for debate, often trivial but also amusing. And finally, as with any brand or personality, she is able to use Twitter as a promotional tool, to expand her audience to include those that don’t move in the high brow academic circles that are associated with an Oxbridge education.
What a list of benefits! I for one am heartened by Mary Beard’s decision to highlight them and give social media a break from the slamming it’s enduring by traditional media. I’d be happy to put my career on the line and bet that Stella Creasy, Caitlin Moran and Jack Monroe would agree with her.
Mary Beard signs off with the words: We don’t tend to respond to playground bullies, by leaving the bullies in charge of the playground. So, although the principle behind #TwitterSilence was sound, the mechanic for me (and Vicky Beeching of the Independent) wasn’t quite right. If we let the trolls win by boycotting the medium, we’re depriving ourselves of all of these and who knows how many other countless benefits. That would be a REAL benefits scandal! The way to deal with bullies is to reclaim the playground. We’re taking back social media and we’re going to use it for good. Get involved with All about the Cause.