I have found a primary source for our lack of civility in today’s culture.
It all started with the #TargetTori girl: an overworked Target manager who had the misfortune of being picked for harassment by a fake journalist on Twitter.
There was necessary outrage and many came to the defense of Tori. A GoFundMe was started that raised around $20,000 for her which she decided to donate to charity.
But this is not what I’m talking about. It was this next example that triggered my epiphany.
It dawned on me: one of the most destructive forces facing our civil dialogue today is the Twitter blue check mark!
NO I’M NOT CRAZY! HEAR ME OUT!
The blue check was intended originally by Twitter to show that a celebrity’s profile was legitimate and not a fake. This is no longer the case.
The blue check is no longer reserved for the Tom Cruises and Justin Timberlakes of the world. No. Twitter at some point began handing these out like candy to every two-bit hack, journalist, comedian, low-level actor, random sound engineer, business – you name it.
People from nowhere with nothing to their name can “write for HuffPo” and get a stupid blue check. Instantly they are transformed into some “authentic source” for the masses. Their Twitter handle is gilded with a symbol that bequeaths a false and phony preeminence.
An entirely unearned sense of superiority is imbued into these people. They are like the Star-Belly Sneetches of Dr. Seuss fame.
These Twitter blue checks masquerade their shitty opinions as expert takes. The affected air of authenticity is a rank putrid miasma leaking out of the rotting grey matter inhabiting their skulls.
The only thing – the ONLY thing – 90% of these people have to their name is that dumb blue check. Without it they would be nothing and their opinions would be worth their true market value: nothing. The blue check is an intelligence subsidy.
They are the sources and the propagators of fake news. They are the agents of continuous narrative. They are the ones who incense and outrage. And they are all full of shit!
We have talked about this on this blog quite a bit. Studying the movements and tweets of blue check Twitter I have observed that they are (often unwitting) assets of the strategy to create polar opposite factions for cultural warfare.
You can’t have a blue check, seemingly, if you don’t push a polarized narrative. Their only job on Twitter is to herd people to either side of an issue and rile them up. They don’t care if you are for or against. They thrive off the engagement and the more you respond directly to their spurious nonsense the more effective it is.
But it’s all bullshit
The blue checks are rife with generalized thought and unnuanced blazoning.
It is the blue checks that stoke racial hatred – if not directly then by retweeting or quote tweeting some poor account with less than 20 followers.
It is the blue checks who wage the gender wars.
It is the blue checks who debase the civil dialogue into name calling and the all-or-nothing mentality.
If you are worried about “fake news” or “misinformation” then it is blue check Twitter you are after. They are the purveyors of the disinformation. They retweet it. They link it. They forward it.
The blue checks are relentless in their attempts to increase their own engagement by creating controversy. You think they are, themselves, outraged. It is not true. They tweet with equanimity whilst sipping cool beverages on a warm sunny day and let their enraged hoards fight other enraged hoards.
They will send their legions of minion trolls to attack lesser, non-blue check accounts who dare stand up to them. So they are also bullies.
Today’s pro-gun rally in Virginia was the perfect example of blue checks on all sides creating narratives.
And you know what? None of them had anything interesting to say.
On one side it was “White nationalists and racists might turn violent!” and on the other side it was “Nuh-uh! You’re the real racists”.
I didn’t see a single provocative thing come out of any blue check accounts. And, come to think of it, I never have. I have never seen a Twitter blue check point up an interesting take on an issue that I have not heard or been aware of in the 36 years of my life.
Every time I think of a possible example I realize I was only “taken” by it because the blue check symbol validated the opinion and gave it something “more”. But it wasn’t “more” or “special”. It never is. The blue check is an illusion. It’s Plato’s cave.
All interesting commentary exists in non-blue check Twitter only. Part of being a blue check on Twitter means you can’t be truly original. It is nothing but narrative creation and narrative pushing, polemics and dichotomies. It’s “us and them” Twitter. That’s all it is. Smoke and mirrors.
Why is this happening?!
It’s happening because the blue check has become a symbol of status. It confers to the owner a completely unearned authenticity and sense of importance that they then lord over all of non-blue check Twitter.
When people scroll their timelines, they are largely “meh”. If they see a blue check they often pause and read.
“What’s this?” they think. “Well it’s from a blue check, so it must be something!”
But it isn’t. It isn’t anything. It’s bullshit. The emperor has no clothes. Blue checks are mostly just some fucking guy like the rest of us.
A good 80-90% of blue checks are nothing but glamorized bloggers. They’re basically nobody douche bags like me, except Twitter gave them a bucketload of undeserved esteem because they were able to prove their shitty article was published once on Jezebel.
Okay we’re convinced! But what can we do about it?
Get behind the movement! #AbolishTheBlueCheck
If non-blue check Twitter rises up we can force Jack and Twitter to get rid of this meaningless symbol.
Gradually, like foam, the truly shitty once-blue-checked-now-not accounts will drop into obscurity.
Like yeast, the actually-okay-to-good ones will rise to greatness anyway.
As far as I know there is only one quasi-legitimate objection.
Twitter could easily have a verification means. They could lock user handles, for example, so no one could have a particular person’s name. They could have an “is verified?” button on every profile that someone can click to see if the account is legit.
Whatever! Twitter pays like two thousand engineers to not produce products that make any money for them. I’m sure they can think of SOMETHING, but the blue check HAS to go.
Your favorite blue check, if they are really worth a shit, will do just fine without the blue check. Plenty of blue checks I actually like would, by force of personality and legitimate interest, be just fine and maybe even better off without the weight of the blue check and all it demands.
But this has to happen. There can be no #Based2020 and there can be no renaissance as long as faction-reinforcing blue checks are allowed to spew their polemics with unmerited gravity.
Even Dave Rubin must agree with me! There can be no “free market-place of ideas” as long as the blue check acts as an artificial market bump amplifying truly craptastic people who never thought an original thought in their lives.