Twitter Swarming

I got sick this week, some nasty little flu virus, I’m sure. But I’m getting better. Pray for me.

Unfortunately the secular community is less healthy, or maybe, just no more/less healthy, than any other group.

The most recent trauma is an argument over PTSD… no seriously… irony much?

Melody Hensley of CFI DC says she got it from twitter, and that seems to have led to a twitter fight with some military personnel who don’t think that is possible.

I should note, I’m not a psychologist, nor do I really know enough about PTSD to comment intelligently.

That doesn’t seem to have stopped the usual suspects from taking sides.

So, in my semi-sickened state, and riddled with psychological ignorance, I did some google. Not the best road to wisdom I admit… but I found this. It is not the exact situation, but it does give a broader context to the discussion.

Given the amount of news coverage and social media shares the Newtown shootings have received, and will continue to receive, it’s not outlandish to think such coverage will have negative affects on media consumers and on journalists.

How common is social-media-induced PTSD? The answer to that question is complicated. “[S]tudies following 9/11 suggest that media-induced PTSD can be as common as one-third the PTSD rate of those who were directly affected,” Essig told me in a follow-up email.

Weird. People get PTSD from social media? And… this is actually an important aspect of PTSD… apparently, it is NOT really about the specific kinds of event(s) that happen to the person, but how event(s) ‘affect’ the person. So, it is somewhat subjective. One soldier, for instance, could do multiple tours of duty in a war zone and never get it, while another might be exposed to one battle and then suffer from it.

Important part:

Essig thinks it isn’t helpful for others to scoff at the notion of social-media-induced PTSD: “[T]rauma is defined from the perspective of the person experiencing it, and it is not the place of the external observer to ridicule [that person] just because in their point of view that event was not particularly traumatic.”

So… being quick to judge… and flaming people on twitter and youtube… is probably not constructive.

@MelodyHensley “So I hear Thunderfuck is responsible for this cybermob attacking me. He should join up with AVfM and make it official.”

Sigh. Then again…

D: Persistent symptoms of increased arousal not present before. These are all physiological response issues, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, or problems with anger, concentration, or hypervigilance. Additional symptoms include irritability, angry outbursts, increased startle response, and concentration or sleep problems.

…maybe the internet is exactly where this sort of thing belongs after all.

8 thoughts on “Twitter Swarming

  1. You write Slate is “Not the best road to wisdom”. I agree. Their article is written in a weaselly way.

    “How common is __social__-media-induced PTSD? The answer to that question is complicated. ‘[S]tudies following 9/11 suggest that [old]-media-induced PTSD can be as common as one-third the PTSD rate of those who were directly affected,’ Essig told me in a follow-up email.” (emphasis mine) What social media existed immediately post-9/11? There were some blogs. But there was no Facebook (2004). No YouTube (2005). No Twitter (2006). One of the referenced studies was published in 2007 and is not available for free. The 2008 study was limited to children watching television. Is Melody a child? I leave that as an exercise for the reader.

    Essig said nothing about social media in particular. ALL of his quotes in that article refer to “media” (e.g. television, movies, radio, newspaper) not “social media” (e.g. Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube). There’s clearly room for more research here.

    “[T]rauma is defined from the perspective of the person experiencing it, and it is not the place of the external observer to ridicule [that person] just because in their point of view that event was not particularly traumatic.”

    Well, not exactly. If we were doctors that would be one thing. But as the general public, we certainly can (and sometimes should) ridicule things we find ridiculous, particularly in the absence of any evidence. This subjectivity is akin to “other ways of knowing” that the religious try to use when they can’t defend their arguments. And, while it may not be Melody’s case, it’s worth looking up Münchausen by Internet on Wikipedia. Shocking news here: People lie about themselves online. The reader often cannot tell which ones are the liars. So when someone claims victimhood to prohibit disagreement, what are we to think?

    If Twitter is giving someone PTSD (even with automated censorship?) they should simply stop using it. I don’t use it (because it’s a ridiculous platform, designed entirely around spreading a defect from cell phones to the whole internet).

    • If Twitter is giving someone PTSD (even with automated censorship?) they should simply stop using it.

      “If Twitter is giving someone PTSD”? “Twitter” can’t give anyone PTSD. It’s the people on Twitter acting like assholes who can give someone PTSD. Your solution to that is not to ask the assholes to behave like decent human beings, but rather to tell the *victim* of their uncivilized abuse to bugger off? What next? “If someone is getting PTSD from their experiences at work, they should simply get another job”? “If someone is getting PTSD from school bullying, they should simply stop going”?

      • Twitter is not a workplace or a school.
        Slippery slope fallacy.

        I’m all for defending freedom of expression, but twitter is not the only place Melody can express herself and if participating is causing her PTSD… Seriously, it is not fucking worth it.

        The amusing part about this, is that it seems to be the ‘victims’ of PTSD who are being assholes to each other.

        • Twitter is not a workplace or a school.
          Slippery slope fallacy.

          1. You appear to be uninformed. Twitter *is* her workplace. Part of her job is using social media to promote CFI events. Anyway, i’m more than a bit fuzzy on why you think that it would matter that Twitter isn’t her workplace or school. Do you think the harassment she is getting would be okay if it was in a place she isn’t professionally required to be?

          2. Alright fine then. “If someone is getting PTSD from bullying at the playground, they should simply stop going”? “If someone is getting PTSD from the harassment they get *simply walking down the streets* of their town, they should simply lock themselves up indoors or move away”?

          I’m all for defending freedom of expression, but twitter is not the only place Melody can express herself and if participating is causing her PTSD… Seriously, it is not fucking worth it.

          Since when is that for you to decide?

          Incidentally, harassment is not “expression”. “Freedom of expression” does not cover abuse, either physical, emotional, or psychological. Merely stating your disapproval of someone and/or their actions is expression; obsessively collecting then posting publicly personal details of their private lives while repeatedly calling for their rape or murder for *years* with *hundreds* of accomplices… that’s just flat out harassment and intimidation. Don’t confuse the two.

          The amusing part about this, is that it seems to be the ‘victims’ of PTSD who are being assholes to each other.

          Red herring fallacy.

          It doesn’t matter how badly behaved Hensley (or whoever else you may be talking about) is, that does not make whatever abuse and harassment *she* faces any less of an issue. This and that are two entirely separate problems, and bringing *that* up in *this* context is as distasteful as any case of smearing a victim to take the pressure off her victimizers.

          • 1. From her twitter account:
            “Personal account: Center for Inquiry–DC Executive Director, Secular Celebrant, atheist, secular humanist, intersectional feminist. Tweets not endorsed by CFI.”

            2. If a kid gets PTSD from the playground the first thing is to remove the kid from that playground and find out what is going on. Because… children. If Melody wants to subject herself to a dangerous environment… for HER mental health… it is of course her right to do so. Not smart at all, but she is not a child.

            >Since when is that for you to decide?

            It’s my free expression of my common sense. I have never called for Melody to be removed from the internet by force.

            Feel free to define harassment. See, on twitter, it gets complicated. Because it is not one to one communication. I, for instance, could say ‘you’re an idiot’. It could be a free expression of opinion. But if a million people say that same thing to you, you might feel harassed. Twitter allows for the latter.

            This is why people prone to PTSD might want to stick to another medium, for their own health.

            Oh, and I never said Melody’s behavior justifies people treating her badly. I simply found it amusing how it seems to be a fight over who is the bigger victim of trauma.

          • 1. From her twitter account:
            “Personal account: Center for Inquiry–DC Executive Director, Secular Celebrant, atheist, secular humanist, intersectional feminist. Tweets not endorsed by CFI.”

            *facepalm* Dude, that’s her *personal* Twitter account – it says so *right there* (and why would she even write “personal account” if she didn’t also have a professional one?). She *also* tweets with an official CFI-DC account (no, i don’t know what the ID is, i don’t use Twitter) – and she gets harassed there, too. Do you *seriously* believe having a personal Twitter account that is unaffiliated with an organization rules out having an official professional responsibility with that organization to be on Twitter? Come on, man.

            2. If a kid gets PTSD from the playground the first thing is to remove the kid from that playground and find out what is going on. Because… children. If Melody wants to subject herself to a dangerous environment… for HER mental health… it is of course her right to do so. Not smart at all, but she is not a child.

            Yeah, see, all that meandering is a pretty sad attempt to cover up two things.

            First, you picked that one example and interpreted it in the most unnecessarily unflattering way (who said the person who wanted to enjoy the playground was a kid? adults go to playgrounds, too, you know, either to watch their kids while they play or to play games like baseball with other adults in rec leagues – do you think it’s impossible for a mother to be harassed or intimidated while trying to watch her kid, for example?) because you can’t find a way to brush off the other example. You keep trying to blame the victim as hard as you can, but you know damn well that the problem here is not Hensley or her “mental” health, it is the people doing the harassing.

            Second, despite your feigned concern for Hensley’s “mental” health, the only *real* reasonable conclusion from the example is that the behaviour of the other kids is the problem. This nonsense about removing the “kid” is *not* the solution, and you *know* that – you try to hand wave it away with a mumble about finding out what’s going on then “because, children”, but that doesn’t make the real solution any less obvious. Removing the “kid” from the situation is merely an emergency first step taken to minimize the harm while solving the problem, and is only meant to be temporary until the *real* culprits are dealt with.

            It’s my free expression of my common sense. I have never called for Melody to be removed from the internet by force.

            Nah, you just repeatedly suggested she should remove *herself*, and isn’t doing so because she’s “not smart”.

            Feel free to define harassment. See, on twitter, it gets complicated. Because it is not one to one communication. I, for instance, could say ‘you’re an idiot’. It could be a free expression of opinion. But if a million people say that same thing to you, you might feel harassed. Twitter allows for the latter.

            Oh, come *on*. You can *NOT* seriously believe that what we’re talking about here is on the level of “you’re an idiot”. To even *IMPLY* that means one of two things: either you’re aware of the kind of abuse and harassment she’s *really* dealing with but are downplaying it for “reasons” (which can only be nasty, callous, or dishonest), or you are not aware of how serious the harassment and abuse she has been dealing with is… which would imply that you’re writing opinions about what she should do based entirely on ignorance.

            I haven’t even read too deeply into the mess and i’ve already found out that there are *hundreds* of people relentlessly stalking all of her activity online, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, recording *everything* she does in a big public profile shared among people who cheerfully talk about how awesome it would be if she were raped or murdered. Oh, yes, and then there are the incessant rape and murder threats, not to mention the harassing messages sent to her workplace and the attempts to get her fired.

            This is not just a bunch of rowdy young scalawags expressing legitimate opinions but being a little impolitic about it. They are obsessively constructing a personal profile of her, including private details, and sharing it with people who frequently post graphically about wanting to see her harmed. It would be as if someone collected private and personal information about a leader in the Jewish community who frequently speaks out against antisemitism, then shared it on Stormfront… what part of that could *possibly* be called “free expression of opinion”? And that’s not even considering the rape and death threats – that ain’t “free expression of opinion” either, at least not in any civilized corner of the world.

            I simply found it amusing how it seems to be a fight over who is the bigger victim of trauma.

            Apparently amused enough to ignore or downplay the abuse that’s actually happening to cause the trauma, while mocking the victim, and suggesting the fix is to let the harassers get what they want. Yeah, i can see you’re having a blast there.

          • Hahah.

            Yes personal twitter… is where this whole mess started. I don’t follow her….or twitter much, but i actually read many of the tweets. The fact this is spilling over into here professional life is just bad for CFI. That is another problem.

            I never blamed Hensley for anything. You are just making things up now. I said, in the interests of her own mental health, twitter is probably not the right platform for her. If twitter gave me PTSD, I would stay the hell away from it. Fortunately I’m way to insensitive for that.

            As to dealing with the real culprits. On a playground dealing with bullies can be difficult, on a global network like the internet, it is immensely harder.

            If a soldier is suffering from PTSD they don’t send him/her back into battle. Melody has said on her personal twitter that she is still ‘bedridden’ due to her PTSD. People with mental illnesses need help.

            As to the ‘harassment’, unlike you, I have read through a lot of tweets. Most of what I have read are insults are mockery directed at her for daring to compare herself to veterans.

            The victim Olympics appears to be in full effect.

            There were references to ‘threats’, but I have not read those. Not really a surprise, I don’t have the time to read all of it, and threats on twitter are hardly a new thing. I assume it is true. But that is just it, defining what we are talking about is important.

            Its amusing you mentioned ‘trying to get her fired’ as part of the ‘harassment’, considering Amanda Marcotte did pretty much the same thing to Ron Lindsay last year because of the blow up about his speech at WIS.

            Do you believe that was harassment too?
            Some feminist bloggers said he ‘abused’ the women with his speech. Should he have been arrested too?

            I don’t think so.

            And you are a liar.

            I have never mocked Melody Hensley. I hope she is getting the help she needs. I just don’t think twitter is important enough to risk your health for.

            Your dishonesty is sadly typical of this whole stupid business where everyone sees the worse in everyone and you’re either with us, or with the terrorists.

            You are part of the problem.

    • I’d say the ‘Is melody a child?’ comment is out of line. Young people are more likely to be immersed in new media. PTSD does not affect everyone equally. And yes it is possible children/young adults are more vulnerable to bullying.

      Here are some more links I found:

      http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/11/28/bullying-can-lead-to-ptsd-symptoms/48213.html
      http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/expert.q.a/03/31/bullying.ptsd.raison/index.html
      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121127094003.htm
      http://www.psychology.org.au/publications/inpsych/workplace_bullying/
      http://www.healthcentral.com/anxiety/c/1443/160152/bullying-ptsd/

      ‘Trauma’ was being used in reference to PTSD, what the public thinks is irrelevant. This is one of those ‘evolution is just a theory’ type arguments.

      Psychology is science. But it is a science of complex systems, like climate science or medicine. Comparing it to religion is nonsense.

      As to ‘claiming victimhood to prevent disagreement’, it seemed that it was the people criticising Melody who were doing that.

      I’m not a fan of professional victimhood stuff, but she seems to have merely stated she was diagnosed with PTSD and people on twitter lost their shit on her. I didn’t see a lot of references to psychological literature, just people indignant she would dare to compare herself to veterans.

      I agree with the last paragraph, twitter is mostly useless, and there are better ways, and avenues of expression, not as fraught with professional trolls.

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