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Why I Quit Twitter

Twitter continues to enable dangerous and irresponsible content and provide a platform for propaganda, hate speech, and gaslighting. I cannot in good conscience remain active on a site that knowingly causes so much harm. 

The final straw was Donald Trump’s tweet about Martin Gugino. Let’s begin with the facts. Gugino is 75 years old. On his blog he describes himself as a far-left activist with anti-government and anti-police views. On June 4, 2020 he was at a protest in Buffalo, New York. He approached police officers with what appeared to be a police helmet in his left hand and a cell phone in his right hand. An officer pushed Gugino, and he fell backward. Gugino hit his head, was bleeding and lost consciousness. He was later taken to the hospital, where he was treated for a concussion and a laceration.

The police report stated not that Gugino was pushed, but that he tripped and fell. Video evidence contradicts that report, and two officers were charged with felony assault. Gugino was not accused of anything, nor was he charged with anything. He wasn’t even referred to by name.

The Final Straw

5 days later, on June 9, Trump tweeted “Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @ OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”

One America News Network (OANN) is a far-right media outlet known for promoting conspiracy theories. The journalist that reported the story of OANN is Kristian Rouz, who also works for Sputnik News, a Russian propanda outlet. Rouz has been known to spread pro-Russia propaganda. The claims regarding Martin Gugino were unsubstantiated, and no evidence was provided.

Aside from holding far-left views, there is no evidence that Gugino is a terrorist. His is not affiliated with any known terrorist group. He is known to have worked with the Catholic Worker Movement and the Western New York Peace Center, both faith-based organizations.

Rationalizing Fascism

Some have speculated the issue was that Gugino was out past curfew. The police would have arrested him in that case. If the phone in his hand was a “scanner” meant to jam police communications, they would have arrested him. Many have wondered what he said to the police, as if there were any words that could justify shoving him rather than arresting him.

As for it being a “setup”, the notion that the police were somehow tricked into shoving Gugino, rather than asking him to step back without laying their hands on him, or stepping around him, or taking action to arrest him, is ludicrous. Are we meant to believe that he scammed them into callously walking past him as he lay prone and bleeding as well?

The insinuation that a 75-year-old man somehow faked his fall is, in my opinion, nothing short of batshit crazy. There is video evidence, from multiple angles, showing him go down. Yes, it appears that he stumbled. That’s what happens when someone pushes you. To have faked his injury means multiple people, from the EMTs that treated and transported him to the medical professionals that cared for him in the hospital, have colluded to support this story. It’s a stretch to find that theory more plausible than video of police shoving Martin Gugino.

And Twitter does nothing.

Twitter has not addressed this. Unlike some previous tweets, they have not fact-checked this one and placed a warning label on it. People are leaning in on this, agreeing with Trump’s implication that Gugino somehow deserved it. They cite his approaching the police at all as justification for abuse. His body language and the way he fell have been analyzed as much as the Zapruder film at this point, because some fascist so badly want to be able to justify the actions of these police. There’s a strong undercurrent that his politics, and the exercising of his First Amendment rights to state those views, are reason enough for him to get cracked. That’s just some good old fashioned McCarthyism right there.

I can’t take it any more. It’s not even the emotional drain, the toxicity that I’m exposed to, or the fact that I need to wade through mountains of garbage to find a nugget of connection with my friends. The use of the site at all makes me feel as if I’m excusing them for not addressing the bad behavior. Whatever small value or alleged convenience it provides to me is outweighed by the platform it provides for the rude, cruel, and willfully ignorant.

So I’m out. I’ve scrubbed my personal account and left a single pinned post that directs people here. While I might be cutting off my nose to spite my face, the blog will no longer syndicate there. The same goes for my  business account. If they ever change their policies, I might go back. I’m not holding my breath.

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Approaching Life as a Writer’s Retreat

Ever since we moved to Finland I’ve talked about approaching this time as a writer’s retreat. Of course, that’s when I expected that we’d be here for two years. By the time our current residence permit expires we’ll have been here for six, and we have every intention of staying forever if we can, so that original plan has been out the window for a long time.

If I had my way, I would do nothing but write, read, and drink coffee. As it works out, that’s still a significant portion of my day. I can deal with having to do marketing and accounting as part of the job. Household chores don’t both me. What keeps coming back around, though, is this idea that I have to interact with the world in a certain way in order to sell books. It’s the opposite of being the kind of quasi-monastic hermit I desire to be.

My role model in this has been Warren Ellis. Now, granted, he can get away with a certain lifestyle because he’s Warren- fncking-Ellis.  He has declared himself to be retired from the internet, save for his own website and newsletter and times when he’s contractually obligated to promote something. In a recent post he talks about how all of the moving parts stress him out, and how the only thing that brings him joy is creating things. So he’s only going to do that, as much as the world allows him to.

Treating Life as a Writer’s Retreat

Ellis talks about taking time to figure things out. That’s why I did during this internet hiatus. I’m making sure that I have time built into my ongoing schedule so that I can continue to figure it out, and make adjustments. It’s about the journey.

Because it’s not about having a writer’s retreat. It’s not even about having a writer’s life. It’s just about having the life that you want. I hit upon the notion that I needed to write a novel to write a novel, with no care for commercial concerns of the opinions of other people. The reason I went back to Twitter and will begin blogging again is because I enjoy creating, regardless of whether people enjoy the things I put out into the world. I can do those things on my own terms, within my own comfort level, and ignore people who say that I’m doing it wrong.

Regular blogging begins 2 December 2019. Until then, you’ll get interludes like this. So subscribe already! And please, leave comments below. I want your feedback and your questions.