OpEd By: kateTaylor
Behind every Twitter bio is a real person.
Whether you are a Democrat or Conservative, Liberal or Anon, you’ve come to Twitter, and platforms like it, to exercise one of Maslow’s most fundamental needs: The need to BELONG.
Twitter’s recent attempt to silence voices and opinions they disagree with has a dark by-product that is being overlooked by all.
A vast majority of Conservatives and Anons are military. Of this segment, social media is a lifeline they otherwise may not have. A very dear friend, beloved by many, suffers from horrific PTSD as a result of his service. On more than one occasion, the ability to reach out to his friends on social media has saved his life.
Would he be here today if Twitter had suspended his account that afternoon?
When platforms take it upon themselves to make decisions for individuals that are so untenable as to remove a person’s ability to access to their social structure and support groups, they endanger lives.
Imagine if it wasn’t Conservatives being banned.
Imagine if those on the other side of the coin, those whose mental health diagnoses define them and whose lives are built entirely around the ability to either provide or accept online support for their disorders and conditions, were suddenly cut-off from those they could vent and reach out to help for by an algorithm.
Those who are the determinants of who is worthy to benefit from the basic human right of friendship and belonging are among the least qualified to do so if the realization of the damage that could be done escapes them.
The family of the first person to commit suicide because their parent, spouse, teen, or even adult child were unable to access their peer support group will raze social media to the ground.
I know because I would.
Because I have a child who has found her greatest happiness and comfort among like-minded kids her age online.
If I wouldn’t take that from her, how could anyone else presume to have the right to?
Surely, while care for the emotional ramifications of the “enemy” are elusive to the hammer-droppers and social vilifiers, the legal ramifications should not be.
Our founding fathers understood our inalienable right to have our say, unmolested, whether we were agreed with or not, whether it was popular or not, whether it made the powers that be uncomfortable or not.
While they couldn’t have foreseen the digital landscape we occupy today, the reality remains that there is a human being, vested with those inalienable rights, behind that avatar that none should presume to exercise moral superiority over.
Their every motive, every value, every belief, or every contributory factor to our cyber-society does not belong to another to judge.
If cyber-bullying has proven to be so detrimental to emotional and psychological well-being, how are we to think that cyber-exile will be any less devastating?
To this writer, though “cancel culture” has done irreparable damage to businesses and organizations, I shudder to think of the damage that would be done if we allow “cancel individual culture” to take root.
Someday, the political unrest of the last four years will end.
What will be the lingering harm from being both victim and victimizer of our fellow human beings?
Freedom to be ourselves is the foundational tenet of American culture.
If we allow this most intimate and personal affront to that freedom to continue, who do we become?