When Twitter Ruins Things

Living in the age of social networking is great.  I use and enjoy both Twitter and Facebook.  I wrote about the appeal of both of them here.

The other day, though, I experienced part of the down side, at least to Twitter.

I'm a big fan of comic books, and lately I've been on a big push for creator owned books, as I believe they are the future of the business.  I follow a number of comic book creators who feel the same way.  On Monday, one of them posted a link on thinkprogress.org about the smear campaign against Trayvon Martin.

If you've been following the Trayvon Martin story, you probably know that Monday was also the day that the police department released the version of events told by George Zimmerman, as well as statements from witnesses.  It was a fairly big development in the story.

When I read the article at the link above, I thought it was a missed opportunity.  I think only people who were already biased would believe the smear campaign, and it would have been better had the column been about the questions that arose from the day's news.  So I said that in response to the aforementioned comic book creator:

I think it's the supposed witness statements that are giving most rational people pause, not what's on that list.

This is the response I got:

What are you implying? If it's what I think, that is messed up.

Given the restraint of 140 character comments, it's not unusual for things to come across the wrong way.  Since I knew what I was saying, I couldn't really imagine what he thought I meant, but it didn't sound good.  So I tried to explain myself:

I don't think it's what you're thinking. I think the people who believe the smear campaign are already biased.

I also think the fact that they don't go into detail about the witness statements and Z's testimony is a missed opportunity.

Hindsight being 20/20, I realize that saying those who believed the smear campaign were already biased didn't connect with the "rational people" comment from earlier, so I suppose it seems like I didn't explain that part of my initial response.

 Still, I thought my two, additional tweets at least gave a fuller picture of what I meant.

This is the response I got:

Are you implying I'm not a rational person? Are you implying the kid deserved death? Let me imply something. You are a racist.

As you can probably imagine, I was taken aback by this.

Now, I can perhaps see thinking I said he wasn't a rational person.  I actually mentioned "rational people" in my initial comment.  But for the life of me I can't find anything that would suggest I was saying that "the kid deserved death."  I just have no idea where that came from.

And, obviously, calling me a racist was just insane on a number of levels.

But, like I said, I have (had?) a lot of respect for this creator, so I wanted to try to explain myself some more:

What? Woa. I was calling the people who believe the smear campaign irrational.
I think most rational people would see the news that came out today and wonder what else was going on...
...like who are these supposed witnesses and why did is that just coming out now?

I never got a response from any of those tweets.  I'm not sure, but I think he might have blocked me, which is too bad.  I shared the fact that he called me a racist and that it was disheartening.  A friend of mine decided to step in and sent this to him:

@ @kylegarret I find your implication of racism to be in stunningly poor taste.

I thought that was a reasonable thing to say -- I kind of felt the same way.

My friend got a response:

(my friend) Well, he started it implicating me. Have a nice day.

(my friend) And I find his racism in poor taste as well, so I guess we're even.

I only saw these tweets by actually checking his timeline; they don't show up in my timeline, which is why I'm guessing he blocked me.

He still maintained that I implied he was irrational -- and this was like 14 hours after I'd told him that's not what I meant.  And he accused me of racism again.

I thought I'd give it one last shot:

I sent you like 5 tweets explaining that's not what I meant. I don't understand why you would jump to that conclusion.

I haven't heard anything back and I suppose I won't.  I doesn't seem like he was even seeing some of my earlier tweets, or at least I hope that was the case, because the alternative is that he was just ignoring what I said because he'd come to a conclusion about me and that was that.

It's weird.  I feel bad about all of this.  I mean, I don't think I really did anything wrong, aside from failing to articulate my point better in 140 characters.  It's just...well, I've always liked reading his tweets.  I've always like what he stands for as far as creator rights are concerned.

It's amazing that, given the constraints of Twitter, anyone would jump to any conclusions, particularly like this.

It's just sad, really.  I'm trying not to think ill of him based upon this one interaction, but given the severity of it, it's not easy.

I suppose this will ensure that I take a step back whenever someone says something to me on Twitter that seems off.  At the very least, I'll give them a chance to explain themselves before calling them horrible things.