[Preface: This post will contain a couple swear words in some directly quoted tweets. So be prepared if that kind of thing bothers you. Also, if you choose to comment, I will moderate them. It is to my complete discretion to delete or keep comments, so do not say mean things about me, the man in the pictures, the original tweeters, or anyone else. You are allowed to disagree, just do it in a respectful way. [EDIT: Also, I have changed the twitter handles and blocked the pictures of the twitter users who tweeted originally. I should’ve done this a long time ago, and to not do so was a mistake on my part. I apologize to anyone involved.]
Here at my beloved ACU, it is a well known fact that we are required to attain a certain number of chapel credits every semester. For freshmen (and I believe all other undergraduates), the requirement is 55. That is 55 long half hours of sitting in Moody Coliseum, or at the venues of various small group chapels and forums. Many use this as an opportunity to slow down, to listen to a speaker reflect on some aspect of Christian life. Some take it as a chance to quietly finish a last minute homework assignment. Some use it to worship, and others just to catch up with friends. Certainly, it can be tiresome attempting to remain quiet and still for yet another half hour of a day already packed with classes. To many, chapel is an undesirable, unpleasant requirement. This leads to boredom, which often leads to what is now a well documented history of disrespect during chapel- students getting up and flooding to the card scanners while the speaker is still presenting, waiting anxiously to be released, talking amongst themselves, and playing on the many iDevices which we are required to have. This is very, very disrespectful, not only to the speaker, but also to any students who want to listen to their presentation.
I understand that not everyone at ACU is a Christian, or a practicing follower of Christ. I also understand that not everyone can be kind 100% of the time. But it seems to me that a basic level of common courtesy has been violated. The particular medium for harassment today (which provoked me to write a blog) is Twitter. I was eating my lunch and scrolling through twitter, as one does. As I read through the feed, I came across these tweets:
(If you wish to read the entire conversation, I have copied and pasted it at the bottom of the post.)
Both of these tweets were attached to pictures of the back of the gentleman’s head. Both are obviously problematic, and I want to detail why this kind of treatment should not be tolerated, and why I chose to respond. Doing so in 140 characters is difficult, which is why I want to elaborate here.
First, a tweet that has been bugging me but has gone unaddressed due to the more pressing issues:
Well, when you post your business on the internet, people can see it. It becomes part of the public domain, to be retweeted, favorited, quoted, used, replied to by anyone with an internet connection, and dissected in a blog post. To post something rude and expect people to stay out of it is a bit ridiculous. I understand that the reason you probably balked at my tweet is because you were not expecting negative backlash. I’m sorry to disappoint you.
Second: the posting of a picture of anyone (even the back of their head) without their permission (implied by the fact that the images are of the back of his head) is not only rude, but unethical. I do not understand what would motivate someone to post a picture of someone they do not know with a rude caption. Apparently, interrupting a conversation to ask someone to be quiet during chapel is enough motivation for these gentlemen. Why do I assume that they don’t know the man in the pictures? Considering these were posted on the internet, with the captions intending to humiliate or make fun of the target, it would seem as much humiliation as possible is acceptable. If they knew him, I assume they would post his name, his twitter handle, or a picture that they already had of him. This would achieve that maximum level of humiliation possible, by subjecting him to the most exposure possible.
Third: is it not overkill to take pictures of the back of a person’s head, post them on social media, and proceed to insult him, because he asked you to stop talking? This goes back to what I was saying before, about respect in chapel. In fact, here are some follow up tweets:
May I point out the glaring error in your logic here, sir? You were the one interrupting first. You were interrupting the chapel service, and thus you were interrupting all of your neighbors’ experience as they attempted to listen to the speaker. In reality, the beginning was your initial conversation interrupting the chapel presentation. He pointed it out, and got taken down for it on twitter. The accusations are slung his way, but the original blame lies with you. If you wish to have a conversation undisturbed by other people, then don’t have it sitting in the middle of a crowd of people- especially people trying to focus on something else. That is a fundamentally unreasonable thing to insult someone for. But I won’t stop there. The bottom line is, it is unacceptable to insult anyone, particularly in the public eye, and especially when they are unaware of the insults.
Fourth: the actual words used. “Whinebag,” while potentially insulting, is not especially creative or incredibly offensive. The phrase “little kid” is also used to describe him, as though he is immature for wanting to listen to and participate in chapel without the distraction of a conversation going on behind him. In my opinion, that is more mature than many people here at ACU. Additionally, I think it is easy to understand why slurs are NOT okay to say about someone else. The connotation is that the gentleman in the pictures is somehow less masculine than the perpetrators of the insults. They are trying to strip away his manhood with terms used to insult women, and the LGBQT* community…all because he asked them to stop talking during chapel?
Finally, you might be wondering why I wrote a blog post about this, or why I bothered to take up the conversation in the first place. It seems insignificant to many. However, the idea that a twitter account even remotely tied to my school could promote ideas as unnecessarily and excessively hateful as those detailed here is bothersome to me. I understand that people are entitled to free speech. That is an American right. But when that right infringes on someone else’s life, liberty, or pursuit of happiness, I would argue that it needs to stop. The fact is, being called “f*g” or “b***ch” would not make the vast majority of people happy. It does nothing to promote a positive environment or the so called “ACU difference.” If enjoying chapel (and asking people to be respectful to everyone around them trying to listen) gets someone harassed and smeared all over social media, why would anyone think well of ACU? Or Christians in general? We represent more than ourselves, and I was not willing to let this slide by, turning an innocent person into a joke for anyone on twitter to see. There is more to life than just you and your conversation, and if this makes you angry or uncomfortable, I recommend you figure out why. The less people you hurt in this world, the better a place it will be.
@Twitterer#1: Here’s the fag of the day for trying to tell me to stop talking. #fag #bitch #likesitinthebutt [picture]
@[me]: @Twitterer#1 @ACUProbs there’s no need to be so rude. Some people like chapel. If you don’t, just sit close to the top away from people.
@Twitterer#2: This kid asked me to quit talking in chapel, so he gets the whinebag award of the day #congratulations [picture]
@[me]: @Twitterer#2 @ACUProbs there’s no need to be rude. Just b/c you don’t like respecting the speaker doesn’t mean everybody feels that way.
@Twitterer#2: @kraye211 why don’t you keep your nose in your business like the guy in the picture should
@[me]: @Twitterer#2 I take issue with some person having his picture posted unknowingly and then made fun of online for simply asking for respect.
@Twitterer#2: @kraye211 he didn’t ask for respect, he asked me to be quiet. Get the facts straight. You weren’t even there so you know nothing
@kraye211: @Twitterer#2 asking someone to be quiet typically indicates they are distracted and/or can’t hear. And though you may not believe it, that…
@kraye211: @Twitterer#2 …is a form of respect. Simple respect for the speaker, allowing those who want to listen to do so.
@[me]: @Twitterer#2 bottom line is, there is absolutely no need to defame somebody you don’t actually know online.
@ACUProbs: @[me] @Twitterer#2 opps I forgot to care……..
@Twitterer#2: @[me] how do you know I don’t know him? Jumping conclusions much
@ACUProbs: @[me] =ACU twitter police.
@[me]: @ACUProbs that’s unfortunate. I guess I just expected people at this university to be held to a higher standard. I suppose I was wrong.
@Twitterer#2: @[me] why don’t you quit twitter stalking me and go study something
@[me]: @Twitterer#2 it’s not twitter stalking if it came up in my feed. sorry for asking for common courtesy from people representing our school.
@ACUProbs: @[me] get out of my mentions
@Twitterer#1: @Twitterer#2 @ACUProbs let’s bring it all they way back to the beginning. That little kid interrupted our conversation.
@Twitterer#1: @Twitterer#2 @ACUProbs that’s disrespectful in my book. If he had something to say maybe he should have waited till we finished.