Ideologists Invading The Twitter Universe
An off-topic response leads to discovery of sub-culture on Twitter
I thought I left the ideologists and cranks behind when I started using Twitter. The popular micro-blog offered little room for long, angry political rants. I truly thought these wing-nuts didn't have the ability or intelligence to spout off their drivel in 145 characters or less.
Oh, how wrong I was. A tweet from a lady known as Liberty-Debbie* unfortunately proved an axiom I should have paid attention to: if there is a will, there is a way. And what a way she and others have found.
On July 4th, 2012, Independence Day, I received Liberty-Debbie’s bizarre response to one of my tweets. “No! He is in the White House."
I’ve had strange off-topic comments before. For the last few years, I’ve been writing for three content sites and attaching all of these articles to my tweets. The tweets I write are meant to market these news/features articles, poems, short stories, and essays (in fact, this particular article will be given the same treatment). With the volume of articles and tweets I’ve made over the years, there’s no doubt I was going to receive some type of critique or encouragement from avid readers.
But, this one was cringe-worthy. She was making a statement totally unrelated to my original tweet, which was: "My monsters don't hide in closets." It was for a poem attached to it called “There's a Monster in My Closet”, which was about child abuse. Liberty-Debbie managed to turn it into a critique of President Barrack Obama.
I had to investigate. But when I clicked on her response, I gritted my teeth when I saw her picture and read her bio. She was a blond with an obtuse grin. She wore a cowboy hat and brandished a Smith &Wesson 9mm for all to see. On top of that she had a peculiar glint her eyes; it was the type of “crazy” look I’ve seen ideologists flash so many times.
Her bio confirmed the obvious: she described herself as an ardent follower of Christian conservative values and the Constitution. I sighed when I realized who I was dealing with.
Who are the Ideologists?
The Poem That Started the Conversation
The Monster's Not In My Closet
I never worried about
Monsters in the closets.
I never cared
For the goblin under the bed.
The monster I feared
Never lurked in dark places
and never hid
in cramped spaces.
The monster I feared
Didn’t have horns
She lived in a quaint house,
painted red, like blood,
with a lawn filled with
This monster waited at the door
with a motherly smile,
beckoning parents with a wave
of her hand
to leave their broods in her care.
But, behind that door
that smile faded
and the hand became an open palm.
The beast within
Showed her true face.
And all you can do is wish
That a monster in her closet
Would come out
And eat her alive.
I make no bones about it; I can’t stand ideologists. To me, the word is a pejorative term to refer to those who blindly follow ideologies from the most extreme ends of the political spectrum. Right or Left, those who adhere to these beliefs do so religiously. Many have rejected logic, reason or scientific evidence. Or worst yet, they cherry-pick data and embrace nearly every form of philosophical fallacy possible to support their beliefs.
They’ve also taken to the Internet with a vengeance. Not only have these folks created some of the most pitiful and disdainful blogs on the Net, they’ve invaded various news forums and content sites.
Yahoo News Forum and the content site Before Its News have been hit the hardest. Yahoo had to regulate and curtail the responses made to news article, due to the ongoing war of words between various ideologists. Even non-political stories were infected with political or racial rants (one notorious example had to do with a report on endangered gorillas in Uganda. The comment section quickly became racially charged with derogatory posts comparing Obama to the gorillas).
Once a fairly respected site, Before Its News, which is an open site to read and contribute article to, was overtaken by Fundamental Christians, alternative medicine proponents (also known as woo promoters), ultra conservatives, libertarians, climate change deniers, and conspiracy theorists.
Ideologists in Twitter
As mentioned, I didn’t think there’d be room for the ideologist to respond. On other sites and in their blogs, ideological writers had a tendency to write long, rambling posts. Many were disorganized and essentially unreadable after the first, page-long paragraph.
However, it turns out it doesn’t take much to get one’s point across (even for ideologists).
I learned this when I wrote a response to Liberty-Debbie’s comment. I kept it simple: “Are you referring to the tweet or the poem attached to it? It has nothing to do with blind ideology – left or right.”
Within an hour she responded with: “blind ideology is NOT 4 me…just the truth of my God and Constitution!”
Amazing, I thought. Despite writing an unintentionally contradictory statement, she managed to get her point across in a few words. In part, I had overlooked a phenomenon: Twitter is ideal for texting over smart phone. Thus, she may have had plenty of practice learning to be succinct while communicating over a smart-phone.
Curious, I clicked on her Twitter page and perused the various tweets from her and her followers. Most of her followers were – as expected – a collection of anti-government libertarians, social conservatives, gun-right advocates, and others forms of right-wingers.
And just like Liberty-Debbie, they were posting their beliefs and attacking those who didn’t support them (And just like the woman who started my investigation, many of them didn’t view themselves as being ideologists, suggesting that I wasn’t the only one who had negative feelings about the word).
They’ve invaded Twitter; however, it appears that their comments were made to each other. They only wanted to affirm their beliefs rather force it on others.
Not All are On the Right
Of the article I’ve written, very few of them are political. I’ve written about global warming and have criticized the deniers. Also, I’m a skeptic of certain claims made by religious groups and I’ve come down harshly on the Tea Party.
Still, I get a handful of responses from those on the left. One particular comment came from a woman who called me a racist. It turned out that she was responding to the title of an article I wrote: “Who Discovered America Columbus or the Vikings?”
Evidently, she didn’t like that I suggested that Europeans discovered America when in fact the Native Americans were already here. She felt that I was favoring Europeans over racial and ethnic groups (too bad she didn’t read the article. I came down hard on Christopher Columbus and the policies he used against the indigenous people of the Americas).
Final Exchange with Liberty-Debbie
Several tweets were sent between Liberty-Debbie and me. Through it all, she maintained she wasn’t an ideologist. And, on my part, I kept the question simple: “Did you respond the tweet or article?”
Finally, Liberty-Debbie took the time to notice the link on my original tweet. However, her view didn’t change. “4 me the poem parallels what’s going on in our country. The monster I fear [Obama] doesn’t hide.”
Angry, I wrote back: “The poem is about child abuse…turning it into something else is criminal” (the monster was a babysitter I referred to as the Ogre who physically abused those she was in charge of once the parents left).
An hour later, she wrote: “On its face it is. But the theme of 'those to whom we entrust our innocents, abuse us' is apt none the less.”
I gave up. There was no point in responding anymore. Like a true ideologist she twisted something totally unrelated to fit her political bias. It was time to move on. If there is one thing I’ve learned dealing with these folks, it is better to ignore than waste your time responding to every rant they post.
Update: Liberty-Debbie Doesn't Go Away Just Yet!
*Liberty-Debbie is not the real name of the user. The name was changed for obvious reasons.
A couple days after the Twitter exchange, I received another one from Liberty-Debbie. This time, she retweeted a tweet/article entitled: “What are Life Skill Course?” This was about a special education program for students with intellectual or developmental disorders (being a special education teacher, most of my articles happen to be about special education).
She added a comment: “Breathing?”
After a long sigh, I responded. “It’s about a special education course. Please read the article before responding. Thank You.”
Later that night, she responded with “Sorry to have intruded….please forgive me.”
On top of that, the original gun-toting lady I saw on her Twitter page was replaced by a woman with a glowing smile and beautiful eyes.
Did something change over the course of the week? Who knows?
Definitions of an Ideologist
© 2012 Dean Traylor