We've got to talk about Twitter

A serious one this week guise

I was chatting to a few freelancers in our Discord about the emotional fatigue we were feeling on Monday morning following England’s loss, and the subsequent racist abuse directed at Saka, Rashford and Sancho, particularly on Twitter.

If you spend any time at all on Twitter, then you’ll know that it can be both a great and terrible place to be. I met many of my closest freelancer friends on there, and I also regularly take part in #ContentClubUK Twitter chat (11 am every Tuesday!). But you can’t discuss the positives of Twitter without recognising the cesspit it really is.

On Monday, the estate agency Savills was trending. After a few clicks, I learned that Twitter sleuths uncovered that racist abuse towards some of the England players was coming from a Savills’ property manager. As expected, Savills tweeted saying they were ‘investigating’ the account… six hours later they tweeted this:

You don’t have to be Poirot to see that this wasn’t a hacking - the account had racist tweets back to March and possibly even before. And (as of writing this), that’s the last we’ve heard from Savills.

Crisis management

In a past life, I worked in PR/social media and part of my responsibility was crisis management, particularly when things arose online that would reflect poorly on the company as a whole.

When you are sitting at a soulless corporate desk, you’ve (probably) never met the individual in question and the phone is ringing and the press wants a statement… it’s very stressful. Some people are absolute pros at crisis management, and even get a kick out of it, but it wasn’t for me.

In my limited experience, I’d say Savills is failing - but does that really even matter to them? Screenshots of the senior management are circulating on Twitter and it’s clear that the company has a serious diversity issue, and I suspect this is an industry-wide problem.

Can one instance - no matter how serious - really spark change for an organisation like Savills, which can't acknowledge that they employ a racist?

The fact that the user’s comments date back for months makes it unlikely that nobody knew about his views/tweets. In this case, acknowledgement only comes as a result of being called out - not because they actually care. It’s purely performative (and not even a good performance, tbh).

In even more serious news, we’re hearing all sorts of stories about Sarah Everard’s murderer, who was working in the Met Police despite alleged flashing and sexual assault claims against him. Again, they knew. At least someone knew. But due to systematic corruption, Sarah was murdered. There is a direct correlation between the loss of human life and the politics of the system.

So, what does this really have to do with this newsletter?

This is just a gentle reminder that there’s only so much we can do from behind a screen, and constantly scrolling Twitter isn’t good for your mental health.

Social media brings people together, but it also tears them apart. Not a day goes by that I don’t see distant family members eye-rolling at BLM on Facebook, and every time I log on Twitter, I’m just a few clicks away from racism, sexism, transphobia and general bigotry. It’s exhausting.

Just because this rhetoric is taking place in the virtual landscape, that doesn’t mean it isn’t real - it’s very real and so is the impact it’s having on all of us.

Once you have reported the tweets, alerted the employers of those responsible and retweeted support for the cause in question, there's not a lot more you can do.

Back when I first met Craig, he would often find himself in the Facebook comments section of the local paper arguing about whatever shit they were peddling that week. He thought he was doing the right thing, and to an extent, he was - by showing that racism will not be tolerated, or whatever the argument was about. But time and time again, I'd say to him “you won't convert anyone to your viewpoint in the Facebook comments” and that goes for Twitter, too.

People who tweet hate messages are not looking to hear your point of view - they want a reaction. Don't give them the satisfaction.

So take this as your reminder that it’s OK to log off for a bit, I vow to work on my own dopamine-fuelled addiction to the home of the tiny bluebird.

Ironically, if you want to chat about this you can find me on Twitter @ContentByTheSea or reply to this email.

📚 Songs in Ursa Major - Emma Brodie

Loosely based on the relationship between James Taylor and Janis Joplin, Songs In Ursa Major is a tale of love, music and mental health set during the swinging sixties and seventies. If you liked Daisy Jones and The Six and Almost Famous, then this is for you.

📚 Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism by Amanda Montell

Fellow word nerds and true crime enthusiasts will love this non-fiction book.

Montell explores the role language plays in cults, looking at everything from Jones Town to Scientology, as well as more modern 'cult' groups like QAnon and Peloton. I thoroughly enjoyed this and even learned a thing or two!

📺 Ask The Copywriter

Absolutely loved hearing André Spiteri at the ProCopywriters meet-up chatting about his journey into copywriting and recommendations for growing your client base, etc. I believe there are a few other events coming up from Leif and the team, so you can sign up here.

Kind words about Conversations By The Sea

A huge thank you to everyone who reads this newsletter - whether this is your first issue or you’re an avid reader, I love you all.

Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:

7 July: Meet my poison parrot

30 June: Memes are the best medicine

23 June: Backup plan

17 June: The sun always shines on TV

10 June: Practical tips for panicky people

3 June: Sciatica strikes back

26 May: Looking after yourself is hard

19 May: He just can’t decide

12 May: Getting titillated by the tangible

5 May: Taking it all in

28 April: Be a better cheerleader

21 April: The power of procrastination