Why I've Quit Twitter

pieterhpieterh wrote on 26 Mar 2016 13:22


I've loved Twitter, the format and the transparency. Yet over the last year, and months, I've become increasingly concerned about it. We've all seen the divisive arguments over race and gender. These aren't just your usual Internet arguments. These are becoming a civil war and I'm stepping out of it.

I think Twitter has become a recruiting tool for a number of toxic cults. These disguise themselves as 'left wing' and 'right wing' and other forms of activism. What they do in fact is spread hate in the name of hits, followers, income, and power. They use each other to troll and divide.

The Cults

Let me cite these by name and explain each. I'm not going to use any links. Explore further at your own risk.

We have the third wave feminists (3WF), promising a nirvana where maleness is a birth crime and femininity will Save the World. It has its mystical roots in Gaia the Earth Mother, and it appeals to an ancient conflict between men and women. The conflict expresses in every couple, every family, and within individuals.

3WF collects women looking for a cause, often highly educated, under-challenged, and lonely. This is a generation who have learned that doing female things, and following the female biological imperatives, is "bad." And yes, these are real things. If you hear a voice shouting "social construct!" in your mind, you are already under a form of mind control.

Humanity is the only species capable of denying its own existence.

It is ironic, and sad, that 3WF accuses women that refuse to accept its message as suffering from "internalized misogyny." That is, self-hate so deep they cannot see it. And yet it is 3WF members that hate their own femaleness. They take no pride in it. It disgusts them so much they must project that onto others.

3WF also collects men, such as a few "male feminists" whom I've had to block to protect them from my need to always be right. Why do boys follow a girls' cult? Partly it's biology. The men go where the women are. We will say and do a lot of stupid things for the remotest chance at sex. But a lot of men have also grown up in the same education system, learning from a young age that gender is a social construct, and Male = Bad, Female = Good.

I am an activist, and have spent decades of my life working pro-bono for the benefit of others. This seems a small price to pay for enjoying a prosperous and stable society. Yet 3WF is not pro-bono activism. It does not have any tangible impact on real problems facing the vulnerable in society: many women, and also children, the aged, and many men. Do I really need to cite statistics showing that most violence against children comes from women? I'd rather not, because it seems I'm excusing male violence, which I'm not.

What 3WF clearly is, is a psychopathic cult. Its leaders, whom I gladly brand as psychopaths, gather significant power and money. They wield their followers like a weapon against opponents, to stop debate. They invent jargon and magical theories. An MTV talking head proudly states, "'Mansplaining' is now in the dictionary. If that's not free speech, I don't know what is!"

Why and how did feminism get hijacked? I'm not an expert so have asked some who are. Their answers: feminism in the West largely accomplished its goals by 2000 or so. There is no wage gap, no discrimination of note. As the core of the movement was based on conflict with maleness, it had to find new targets, and new leaders willing to aim at these targets. Hence its expansion into hate, and its domination by psychopaths.

The second cult is close and yet distinct, by definition. It was born as "Black Lives Matter" around 2014, and has grown into a national movement calling itself the "Black Liberation Collective," or BLC. It wears the clothes and language of the Black Power movement of the 1950s. Yet while that movement was born in the ghettos, and fought real problems of racism, BLC seems obsessed with posture and gesture. It is a Facebook movement, narcissist to the core.

BLC has spread rapidly into college campuses across the US. While college students seemed like Fair Game to aggressive pepper-spraying police a few years before, BLC raised the stakes. "Hit one of us," they said, "and you hit an entire people." As a threat, it was effective. Yet what has BLC done with that? It has turned campus after campus into scenes from Lord of the Flies. What happens when spoiled children get the feeling of power over others? Read thedemands.org.

What does BLC promise its supporters, the children of wealthy families, freed from the burden of work or child care, freed even from the need to study? Not liberation, for sure. What I think it offers is appeasement for survivor guilt, someone to blame, and a rough answer.

I've witnessed real racism in the States, black friends of mine who spent the weekends in gaol to pay off court fees for unjustified traffic fines. I've seen families destroyed by alcohol, drugs, and the sheer negligence of the state. There are real problems to solve. And there are many people working to solve these problems.

BLC ignores such problems. Instead, it takes the guilt of the recently well-off, casts it into the worst kind of tribalism, and then promises a future where "whiteness" is eradicated. It casts the sins of the world into the pale-skinned tribes, then seeks to throw them over a cliff like the Biblical swine.

Here is the final BLC demand to the University of Missouri:

We demand that the University of Missouri increases funding, resources, and personnel for the social justices centers on campus for the purpose of hiring additional professionals, particularly those of color, boosting outreach and programming across campus, and increasing campus­wide awareness and visibility.

And in 2015, that university lost $20-$25 million in tuition as students voted with their feet. BLC starts to look less like a cure, and more like a fatal disease.

The goal here is not progress. It is chaos, destruction, the tabula rasa of revolution.

3WF and BLC are similar in key ways. They both worship the god Ego, with different prophets. They both speak to the same pampered, indolent middle class. They both focus on the same villains: the white male establishment, aka the "Patriarchy."

And both cults go one step further: they claim the status of absolute victim, and in doing so they deny the real victims their place. 3WF ignores the spread of vulnerability across society, particularly children and the elderly. BLC ignores the mass of poverty that cannot claim one drop of African or Native American blood. It is not a small mass, as Donald Trump knows.

Yes, America is a divided society. Extraordinarily unfair in ways that can make no sense to the outside observer. Filled with anger, hate, and intolerance. Focused on tribalism and difference. These are real problems that can be solved, and probably will be solved, over time. Yet these two cults embrace the problems and amplify them, in their thirst for power.

Since both cults are growing, perhaps at a time when more traditional cults like Scientology are shrinking, they work together. Soon enough they will be chewing at each others' throats. Yet for now they agree on the common enemy and their strategy of tension.

We see such cults of hate across the world, wherever there are unresolved social divisions caused by history. The natural tendency of many people is to choose a side, which worsens the divisions. Psychopaths love such opportunities. "Hate the infidel," they shout. "Bomb the Muslim!" they demand. "Kill the Jew," they whisper.

BLC's difference is its embrace of the theory of race. Does this have a biological basis?

Let me cite one study from Sarah Tishkoff. Her team found fourteen ancestral human genetic families. These match ancient linguistic families. Nine of these are in Africa, five in the rest of the world. Around 75% of African-Americans share a Niger-Kordofanian family origin.

Does this constitute two "races"? Or even two "ethnicities"? If you want to count, there are probably over a dozen, most of which are "black." And all modern humans are a mongrel mix of these. Gene flow has no mercy, which is why Russian Jews look like Russians and Ethiopian Jews look Ethiopian, despite thousands of years of mixing taboos.

There is no "black" and there is no "white," except by comparison and prejudice.

We falsified the theory of race at great cost in the last century. Yet BLC builds on it, and amplifies it. That makes it a dangerous cult, both in itself and in the way it enables others' destructive tendencies.

Which brings me to our third cult, the reactionary right, or RR. It is arguably the more dangerous of the three. The RR claims to address the damage that the 3WF and BLC do, yet it is profoundly racist, and just as divisive.

The 3WF and BLC have left a huge mass of ordinary men and women without voice in the debate over where our society should go. The RR finds this mass of people, and speaks to their vulnerability. It attacks 3WF and BLC eloquently, and without fear. Whereas most people shirk from confrontation with armies of sock puppets, RR loves the confrontation.

In general the only people who seek out psychopaths to argue with are worse psychopaths.

RR attacks the "gender is a social construct" myth of 3WF and then attacks "race is a social construct" in the same breath. This may work for some listeners. To me, the switch from exposing intolerance to embracing it is shocking. Yet it's systematic, and often focuses on immigration and refugees.

After the arrests in Brussels of a terrorist, days before the attacks, the RR was claiming that "200 youths attacked police as they arrested an Islamic terrorist," in Molenbeek. The RR claim that Muslims in Europe fight for a Caliphate. They happily mix "refugee", "immigrant", "terrorist", and "Muslim" as if these mean the same thing.

I think, though it's not yet clear to me, that the RR are trying to push people towards political extremism. That is, while 3WF is trying to control media and technology, and BLC wants to control education, the RR wants real political power. Donald Trump's bid for Presidential office is entirely in line with the RR world view.

The Role of New Media

The 21st century media is a different animal from old media. Gone are the careful, slow investigations and analyses. In their place we see click races and catch phrases. After a significant court trial such as that of Jian Ghomeshi, they prepare two pieces, one for each outcome. Each is designed to trigger maximum outrage. Seconds after the announcement, the pieces go live, and the tweets flow.

Twitter is the mouthpiece of New Media. It takes outrage and multiplies it a thousand times. Every person in that human chain gets a small kick as they Retweet and Like. There is no responsibility.

And there is no dialog. We get two sides shouting slogans at each other, each seeking for the most outrage they can express without being blocked and banned.

In the fight for clicks, all dialogue dies. In its place we get emotion, and appeal to emotion. In Ghomeshi's trial, the judge said (I paraphrase):

The witnesses in this trial lied so often that their entire testimony was worthless.

Which became, on Twitter:

The judge said, "one cannot believe these rape allegations"

Which a few dozen retweets later became:

The judge said, "one cannot believe rape allegations"

Which 3WF picked up on and has turned into a new crusade against the inherent evil of maleness. The judge will probably be retired, for doing his job properly, and Ghomeshi will never clear his name. Check the #ghomeshi hashtag if you can stomach it. Only a few commentators ask, "what if the accusers really were lying?"

Asking for thought and pause is asking to be ignored. 3WF does not need trials or evidence to know that maleness is guilty. It is a core tenet of the cult: every man is a rapist, it is a question of "when", not "if". The effect is to keep its members in an echo chamber of hate, isolated from balancing opinion.

Ironically, Ghomeshi was a long-standing member of the 3WF cult. As a public male figure, he was Fair Game, though. The use of sexual misconduct allegations against prominent men is a standard technique. It often follows the same pattern:

  • Loud accusations published in the press.
  • Public outrage and condemnation.
  • Investigation and conclusion: the allegations were false.
  • Accused's life is ruined, and accuser claims the system failed her.

Real victims do not take this route. They mostly say nothing, out of shame and self-recrimination. Then if they speak up, it is to the police, who mostly do nothing because such cases are so hard to prove. Victims may press civil complaints then, where the standards of evidence are lower, and the punishments less severe. Only when their case goes to trial, does the press learn about it.

Those who use the media as their court tend to be liars. A person with evidence keeps it in reserve, and speaks through their lawyer.

I'm forced to conclude that Twitter promotes liars. Worse, it promotes those who make a career out of lies. That is, psychopaths. Let me say this again: Twitter promotes psychopaths. It gives them power and status and credibility.

Gamifying the Truth

I started building a Twitter profile some years ago. It all seemed innocent at the time. Get more followers, it's a good thing, right? Twitter let me promote my books, my writing, my talks. It was a way to keep in touch with people.

And then there's that moment when you realize you're talking to an audience. Not friends, not colleagues. Rather, a group of mostly strangers. And if you say things they don't like, they'll walk away. You say the right things, and Twitter rewards you. New followers! Be too blunt, and people leave.

The problem with performance is that it rewards drama and emotion. This is fine for entertainment. It is toxic for dialog, for understanding. Combine Twitter's karma whoring model with its short text limit, and the result can be horrid.

Horrid, that is, for those who seek truth and knowledge. The only way to get that is by careful argument of theory. Even then we only approximate. The process is everything. And Twitter promotes a process of anti-science.

There are some specific things Twitter could change to fix this. It would break Twitter as we know it, and thus will not happen:

  • Remove the size limit on posts, or allow additional detail for a post.
  • Hide the number of followers and retweets to stop karma whoring.

The Need for Offense

The particular thread that kicked my brain into action was about (not) banning a conference speaker who holds racist views. I'm going to make an exception, and link to some of these tweets. Note the language and style used.

Conference organizers are of course free to invite whom they like. Notable about this particular event was that it has rules about how speakers are selected. These rules, a contract, exist specifically because 3WF demanded them. Papers are stripped of gender and identifying information, then selected on purely technical merit.

So the demand for selective enforcement is interesting. This is a classic cult technique: complex rules that apply in one direction only. The psychopath steals from everyone, yet is the first to demand harsh sentences for others' petty crimes.

Yet no matter the agreed rules, the demand to ban a speaker for their political views is indeed a call for censorship. This is text-book censorship: the suppression of speech which is inconvenient, sensitive, or politically incorrect.

What's wrong with some censorship, you might ask? It's much like asking, "why do we need due process?" Surely censoring obvious hate speech is a good thing? Surely sending obvious rapists straight to prison without the cost and delay of a trial is a good thing?

People who believe this (and there are a lot) have a common culture of lazy safety. They have never been arrested and locked up on false charges, by cops needing to make their quota. They have never been falsely accused by vindictive ex-partners. They have never lived in dictatorships where fighting the regime was classified as "mental illness." They have never known a world where some knowledge was considered so dangerous, you could die for spreading it.

Once again, the loudest demands for rough justice come from the pampered children of the upper middle class, who believe the cornucopia of technology is their birthright. Who piss in drinkable water and think nothing of it. Who see an empty fridge as "lazy" and not "poor."

Since it is clearly not obvious, let me break down the reasons why censorship of Truly Dangerous Opinion (TDO) is bad:

  • It creates a black market in TDOs. Like prohibition of alcohol or drugs, this makes TDOs harder, not easier to fight. The censorship of Nazi propaganda in Germany since the end of WW2 did not stop the underground neo-Nazi movement. When you bring TDO into the open, you can argue it and destroy it.
  • It creates a censor. And the censor always has their own, plastic opinion of what TDO is. If the censor is honest and sincere, it can be hijacked.
  • We need TDO to argue against. TDO is the Devil's Advocate. When someone advocates slavery, this gives us a chance to better understand and attack modern day slavery. When someone advocates racism, this forces us to argue for multiculturalism.

As John Stuart Mill wrote in, "On Liberty":

The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

Censorship is a goals of all cults, because it gives them the Holy Grail of informal tribunals with unwritten rules. You'll see this demand made over and over: "give us power to enforce our opinions over others". It is really a call for dissolution of the State, and the handing of power to self-selected individuals. A form of anarchy where the strongest rule over the weak. It is the psychopath's wet dream.


It has become clear to me that Twitter is a lens that distorts. The economics in this case favor the wrong people: the psychopaths and their followers. It gives them space in which to grow, recruit, and market themselves. By using Twitter, I'm contributing to this.

We know where the politics of extremism takes us. We don't need to go back hundreds of years. Just a few days, to bombs exploding in my home city. Psychopaths produced those bombs, recruited the mules who carried them, and sent them on their way. One more cult of hate, seeking to divide and conquer.

Yes, I'm literally making an equivalence between the digital cults and Daesh. They lie at different points on a scale, yet it is one scale. Saying "all men" and "all white men" has the same intent and effect as saying "all Muslims." It divides, isolates, and creates space for the cult to grow.

Never doubt the harm that psychopaths will inflict on others. It is simply a pragmatic calculation of benefits against risks and costs. Allow cults to grow without sanction, and they will become more aggressive and more destructive.

I'm in no place to stop these cults or even reason with them. However I can stop contributing to them. That means, stopping using Twitter. It's a painful decision to abandon years of building up a following. And yet it frees me to speak openly again.

So, I've deleted my account. Since literally deleting it confused some people, who thought I'd blocked them, I have removed my profile, and stopped tweeting. My old tweets remain, and people can message me.

There are other ways to talk with people. Other platforms that don't tilt so heavily in favor of extremism. Platforms where we can write more than a sentence. None is perfect. Yet some are better than others.

Thanks to everyone who supported me during the long years. I'm not walking away, just finding a better place to stand.


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