Thursday, November 08, 2018

That Time I Was Sort of Banned From Twitter But Not Really But Really I Was

Nothing I write will appear on ever again. When I first started on Twitter in 2009, I used it as a place to gripe about experiences while driving very long distances. Overtime, I abandoned that for the most part, and instead focused on family, politics, humor, and culture. My blogging fell by the wayside, as did my long-form writing. I interacted with people that I sort of thought of as friends, and was able to interact with actual friends who had moved off of email and on to a medium notable for 140 character bursts.

Even a couple of weeks after the events, I am still somewhat ambivalent about being sort of kicked off. But first, let's talk about the events to which I just spent a paragraph alluding.

One of my great bugaboos is the extent to which politics, especially (but hardly exclusively) left-of-center politics takes people from being autonomous individuals and turns them into undifferentiated masses of political actors and at times mere objects for political warfare. To some extent, this is inevitable in any large governing entity, representative or not; and to some lesser extent, it is bound up in the very idea of mass popular suffrage. It is still a reversal of the profound intellectual and philosophical revolution Judaeo-Christianity initiated, which single-handedly raised the individual to a place of privacy above that of the gens or clan. That is not a good thing.

At any rate, Democrats, being Democrats, were doing that thing where they take a group of mentally ill people and use them as political objects. I objected.

(Twitter has black-holed the tweet, which makes what follows even more remarkably stupid.)

(Also yes, I play Empire and am finishing off Clash of Clans at Townhall 9; but the Cookie Jam logo is because Number Six decided she wanted to play it and I forgot to turn off notifications.)

I honestly didn't think much of this at the time. The idea's unremarkable: these are humans, created imago Dei, and they are, in the view of the medical community, in need of treatment and care. We owe them no less as fellow human beings and, quite frankly, as Christians, and they certainly deserve better than to be political footballs.

Not long after writing this, my account was locked. I filed an appeal, and explained that I was not speaking ill of these poor people, but rather demanding humane treatment for them. My appeal was denied without comment.

In order to begin posting again on, I must do two things, after which, I will get a brief time out. First, I must delete the offending tweet. second, I must provide personal information to Twitter, so they can verify my account. Neither of these things will happen. I will address them in turn.

Twitter is a free (TNSTAAFL) service that uses my content and my eyeballs to sell advertising space and to slowly crash millions of dollars in venture capital. It is free to set its own rules, which apparently, though not in writing, include not reciting well-established medical opinion and basic Christianity.

Because that is precisely what I did. It is a well-established medical opinion that men who believe that they are in the wrong bodies are suffering from mental illness. It is a basic Christian teaching that those who are sick and wounded, mentally no less than physically, deserve care and treatment; and that because each human has inherent dignity arising from the act of Creation, he is not a mere political weapon.

It is also basic Orthodox Christianity that God created man and woman, and he made them male and female, he did not make two-spirits, genderqueer, I lose track of the buzzwords, but the short is, God does not smudge the line.

When I was young, I was taught to pray that I would die a martyr. I am not sure, even today, that I am brave enough to die as one, but I hope to be. I'm assuredly brave enough not to recant Catholicism on the threat of being unable to use a social media service.

Moreover, if reality means anything -- that is, if there are objective truths to be observed as common markers for communication and experience -- then we cannot smudge it away ourselves and expect everything to go well. I am Catholic not least because Catholicism treasures rationality, and I will not be irrational just to go along with the sick weirdos who move our culture.

In other words: Bruce Jenner is a man whom other men have tortured and sickened because they decided to celebrate his illness.

So if Twitter wants to delete that tweet, it's welcome to do so. It was posted on their server, and displayed using their software. I, however, will not.

This leads to the next problem.

I post under a pseudonym, and have for over 15 years, for a series of fairly simple reasons. I began by writing under my own name, and my family, which meant at the time my wife and then-only child, suffered financially for it. Once I began posting under the pseudonym, I began getting death threats. Some of those death threats extended to my wife and burgeoning group of children. Realistically, there is no real threat. So while the threat of financial ruin is gone -- I make my own bread, thank you -- I'm intensely jealous of my loved ones' lives, and I'm intensely paranoid, so I post under the pseudonym.

There are three reasons Twitter might demand my personal information as a condition of allowing me to use its service, in descending order of likelihood: To crack down on bots and automated accounts (something their investors and the almost-regulators who drag them to Capitol Hill would like); to mine for financial/advertising data; and to use against me personally. While the third option is not wildly likely, the people who believe saying "individuals suffering from dysmorphia are ill and need our care, not our enabling" is a hate crime are notoriously prone to believing those with whom they disagree are not differently-minded countrymen, but mortal enemies to be slain. They could narrow me down by IP address, but I'm not giving them a drop more than that.

Their service; their rules; I'm out.

As I said above, I'm sort of ambivalent about the whole thing. On the one hand, Twitter is addictive for the rapid-reward nature of how it hits your pleasure center. I legitimately enjoyed interacting and yes, at times, arguing with others in quick bursts. I truly enjoyed, and count as some of my best writing, the Thomas the Tank Engine and the Island of the Damned story I was almost 2/5 through. I enjoyed conversing with intelligent, pleasant-online-anyway people from all over. I loved telling stories about my kids, who when not trying to kill me, are making my life one great adventure.

On the other hand, most of the sub-variants of Twitter have sickened over time, like an infection of the feet working its way to various hearts. Conservative political Twitter is a war between large camps of people of varying levels of certitude of their own correctness (and varying levels of willingness to admit it) over how and whether to deal with the fact of President Trump. A lot of old stalwarts have gone mad and demanded that the GOP be punished for not assassinating candidate Trump, or at least, that's the logical implication of their smug satisfaction at watching Republicans who backed Trump survive and thrive while candidates who opposed him go down in flames. Parents-with-young-kids Twitter is fun but more and more nastiness and sickness seeps in over time. Catholic Twitter -- which has always been nuts in a way that even political Twitter isn't -- devolved not long ago into cosplaying the Great Schism, with each side imagining itself Humbert of Silva Candida.

Twitter was fun when it was a chance to share funny jokes, stories, some political rumination, science, puns, talks about culture of various kinds, and general camaraderie. It isn't fun when you've had to mute a third of the people you follow just because you don't want to burn a bridge you're pretty sure needs to be salted ash, and a third of the people who follow you because comment moderation sucks.

I've also rediscovered something I learned about this time last year after a significant hiatus: I get more work done and am better at long-form writing (joke about how I don't do any other kind goes here), though my ability to think on my feet suffers when I'm away from Twitter.

I've also relearned a lesson in humility, as my absence apparently hasn't even been noticed, let alone protested. I like to quote The graveyards are full of indispensable men to myself with some frequency, and this is a poignant reminder that I wouldn't even make those rows.

The great news, for anyone interested, is that I had more than toyed with packing it all up and shutting it all down with increasing frequency of late, but despite eleven requests for my Twitter archive, I never even got the confirmation email from that soon-to-be-Chapter-11 service. This means that while I cannot post, send direct messages, see my notifications, or even read the feed that comes from my followers, everything I wrote is still available for anyone who wants to read it, and clearly will be until the creditors' committee divvies up the assets to scrape $.03 on the dollar for the DIP financing guys.

In the meantime:

(The Von Trapps as reproducers were pikers compared to us, but much better singers.)


Battery H said...

I hope there will be someplace (here or elsewhere) you can be reached and read. The voices that make me think are becoming fewer in number, I can't bear to lose another.

Failing the ability to meet you IRL, I hope to be worthy of meeting you in Heaven where we can share a smile, a laugh, and hopefully (on my part) a "that was a life well lived my brother."

In the meantime, stay frosty and keep the herd wrangled as best you can.

Anonymous said...

I didn’t realize that you had been banned. I thought you were on a Twitter fast. You are missed.

Unknown said...

Sir, you are missed on that disaster of a platform. But your points are, as always, well made and appreciated. All the best to you and the 53 man roster you are bringing up.

Rik K said...

I'm gladdened, yet moderately surprised, that there were no parting shots toward us Lutherans.

While I completely understand and support your decision, you will nevertheless be missed.

May you and your family continue to be blessed.

Chris Borland said...

Although your leaving may not have been protested by those with massive follow counts and influence, those of us dedicated lurkers that love to read witty and intelligent (and/or silly and ridiculous) posts about life, love, and country will miss you dearly.

Please continue your long-form writing as everyone needs a break from 140ish characters in order to stretch their collective brains.

Best of luck.

Matt Blumenfeld said...

Will miss you Mr. Crown. God bless to you and yours and thank you for all the prayers you have sent my family's way over the years.

Anonymous said...

You'll be missed. I've enjoyed and envied your insane tales of childrearing more than I can say. If you're ever in The Woodlands, I'll stand you the first round.

johnyzgurl said...

Thanks for writing. I had looked for you two days ago and thought I must have missed you were taking another break. Blessings to you and yours.

cptgunch said...

Maybe I'm dense, but how do we subscribe to / follow this blog?

Sabrdance said...

I, too, am a lurker who missed you on twitter. I was sad to hear about this, but glad to have heard it -because it means I was not checking your feed every day for the end of your hiatus in complete vain.

Adam R. Maxwell said...

I was just wondering what was going on with you the other day. Well done on sticking to your principles, and congratulations on now having even more time to procreate.

Anonymous said...

Best of luck. Enjoyed your account, especially about the kids. Praying for you and your family.

Kyle Sammin said...

Sorry to hear that this is the end of your Twitter presence, but it's inevitable in that increasingly intolerant place.