The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg protests during a “Friday for the Future” protest … [+]
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An old man gets into a helicopter. He waves to his enthusiastic fans. He holds up his fist after promising to return triumphantly at some point.
No, this is not a scene from an Arnold Schwarzenegger film, although maybe it could be. (Get to the Chopper is iconic for good reason, after all.) When former President Donald Trump recently took control of the White House, climate change activist Greta Thunberg jumped in on Twitter for her finale achieve diss against a constant opponent.
Sure sarcasm alert.
In recent social media history, nothing is as confusing as the feud between President Trump and Greta Thunberg.
I’m sticking to my rule of avoiding politics here, but it must be admitted that the age difference, political views and attitudes towards life in general are in stark contrast to each other. It’s confusing on many levels. Why exchange barbs for social ones? How are they connected at all? What makes them even remotely similar?
Conflicting relationships on social media make sense at the very least. We saw the peloton haters defending themselves against the claim. We have seen those who are big tech advocates take over smaller businesses that are struggling to stay alive.
And yet we are here.
Two people from very different areas of life who work for different purposes, separate worlds from each other and nudge each other. Not so much from the Trump side anymore since Twitter deleted his account. And Greta has been largely silent about Trump for months. It’s been an annoying duel in recent years.
If you scrutinized these insults you would see some things.
For starters, any person who sets someone else on fire speaks to their base most of the time. We know this from the last 10 years of social media disputes. The really sarcastic tweets are meant to upset the constituency. That’s all. We know that the other party is not listening or even paying attention.
You would see something hurt too. Each dissident against another person reveals, at least in part, something about the person who makes the dissident. We are all human. We go on the defensive, or we feel overlooked, or we cannot fully understand the conflict at hand. We tend to make casual remarks or criticize, almost as a defense mechanism.
I’m sure Greta is puzzled about the weird Twitter feud too, and there’s a self-defense stance out there that is probably justified.
I am guilty. I am tempted (and relented) to put trolls and attackers online, and have sometimes published my own “with them” evil grammar. I will say that it is no longer common for me.
I learned to practice empathy and avoid hitting social media, and came across the idea that anyone who criticizes is likely to have internal turmoil anyway (or a valid reason to take that stance). Whipping doesn’t help, and sarcasm always has a payload.
In the end, this last exchange on Twitter may be a sign of the future. Maybe we live with more courtesy.
I can at least keep hoping.