Stop before it’s too late

Deep question of the day. Is it fun to have protracted arguments about complicated subjects on Twitter?

I say no. Hell no. It’s irritating as fuck. It’s stupid. It’s pointless – because there are better tools available so why the hell use Twitter? Twitter is good for some things, but complicated arguments are not among those things.

I know this extra at the moment because some derp tried to have such an argument with me earlier and it was completely annoying. The derp read Foster Disbelief’s post about misogyny and privilege and tweeted at me

Speaking out against misogyny, and making it clear that the only valid white male opinion is one that lines up with his.

But that’s not what he said – but how boring and irritating to try to make that case on Twitter! But I tried anyway, and the derp kept replying, and I kept replying, and it was all completely futile because 140 characters.

People of the world, stop using Twitter to argue about things that take more than 140 characters! Just stop!


  1. Cafeeine says

    In a similar point, after some months of comment wars on Youtube I found I had conditioned myself to condense any response to 500 character chunks.

  2. says

    Ant Allan is teasing me by praising the discipline of fitting everything into 140 characters. I know, I’ve learned that…But not for arguing with derps. Never, never, never.

  3. Wowbagger, Deputy Vice-President (Silencing) says

    Yeah, I’ve realised there’s no point for using it as anything other than text-bites; it’s especially pointless when you’re dealing with JAQ-off bad-faith trolls with no intention of actually engaging.

    I do enjoy the challenge of writing coherent short messages, though.

  4. says

    A TV news crew was driving on a busy road in Sydney a while ago, and were both amazed and horrified to see a young woman in an open-top car driving along in the lane beside them, with a laptop perched on the steering wheel. Her attention was divided between typing and steering. (You know: blog, blog, blog; steer, steer, steer; blog, blog, blog…)

    At a traffic light they asked her “what are you doing?”

    Came the reply: “I’m updating my Twitter.”

    That was the first I ever heard of Twitter, and I’ve stayed away from it, Facebook etc ever since.

    The comments here I find quite vindicating.

  5. 'Tis Himself says

    Similar to the Car Talk guys’ “hang up and drive”, there should be a “stop texting and drive” movement.

  6. says

    The 140 character problem plagues me. I think we need a feed-, follower-, and list-based service like Twitter that allows for something more like 200 words. If only there were a good Facebook client just for viewing status updates. And of only their “subscribe” system for following non-friends were better.

  7. MLR says

    Ooops, guess I shouldn’t comment without refreshing the page… Godless Heathen beat me to it. 😛

  8. says

    In Canberra the local roads authority has signs which say:

    U B NEXT.’

    They could be more cool, ie via even less vowels. But they are understood.

  9. tekanji says

    Um, Ophelia? Do you realize that calling a person a “derp” is the equivalent of calling them the r-word?

    Derp is an ableist word that has been used in memes to make fun of disabled people, the “derp face” is one that disabled people are frequently taunted for having, and people with disabilities have come out on multiple occasions to request that people not use the term.

    I know that it’s the hip new word to mock people with around the internet right now, but if you look deeper into its usage it’s a really vile word.

  10. says

    tekanji – no, I didn’t know. Actually, believe it or not, I thought I was doing something slightly odd in using it as a noun at all. I thought I was just stealing it from the phrase “herp derp” and that I was just naming someone who says “derp” instead of something more meaningful.

    Maybe the trouble is that I never look at tumblr (and don’t really know what it is, other than a thing I never look at).

    Are you sure you’re right? Is it really the hip new word? Is it ubiquitous?

  11. tekanji says


    Tumblr is a specific type of blog network; it’s an extremely active social community so it tends to both create and perpetuate a lot of memes. I first encountered “herp derp” and various iterations thereof there in the form of image macros and in reference to a fan made My Little Pony called Derpy Hooves (the character was later featured in the actual cartoon).

    I said it was a “hip new word” not really because of the noun usage (which I have only seen in this post), but because the phrase and its iterations are starting to leave niche sites/groups and enter into a more mainstream context (like your blog). I guess I was referring less to the specific word and more to the growing trend of using some form of “herp derp” to mock people.

    As for if I’m right; all I can say is that it’s my policy to go with what the people actually affected by things say on the matter. In this case, people with disabilities say that “herp derp” and related words/memes have been used as weapons against them in much the same way that the r-word has. I’ve provided a few links in my original comment, but if they aren’t convincing enough evidence then I encourage you to do some digging around. At the very least a Google search should give you a better idea of the context behind the phrase and the various ways it’s used.

  12. says


    First you said “Do you realize that calling a person a “derp” is the equivalent of calling them the r-word?

    Derp is an ableist word that has been used in memes to make fun of disabled people…I know that it’s the hip new word to mock people with around the internet right now, but if you look deeper into its usage it’s a really vile word.”

    But now you say you mean the phrase? But if you mean the phrase, why did you single out the word?

    And objecting to a phrase that means essentially “gibberish” is too much. We need ways of saying “gibberish.” That’s because there’s a lot of it.

    Objection overruled.

  13. tekanji says


    I’m typing on my iPhone so I’m not as clear as I could be. What I was trying to say is that “derp” as a noun is the same as the r-word because its parent phrase, “herp derp, is used to call people the r-word. You can believe me or not, but I urge you to read the links I provided on why “herp derp” and all words/phrases derived from it mean a hell of a lot more than just “gibberish”.

    And, for the record, I neither appreciate being called a “bro” (I am a woman, as a simple search on my name will show), nor do I think it’s fair to accuse me of “raging” or “ragequitting”, when I have been calmly (if not as clearly as I wished), trying to explain a position that you were not aware of. I don’t think anything I’ve said has been combative but if I came across that way to you then I apologize.

    I have a deep respect for you and have been regularly reading your blog since the attacks on you (and other prominent women skeptics) by Paula Kirby. I started this dialogue with you because of that respect, and it hurts me be dismissed with “U mad bro?” I know it’s easy to forget, but behind this wall of text is a real human being with real feelings. Words mean things; words have an impact.

    Anyway, I feel like anything more I could say on this issue would be a derail so unless there’s something you wish me to clarify or whatnot then I’m going to respectfully bow out of this conversation and go back to lurking. I wish you the best in your continuing efforts within the atheist community and I want to reiterate that you have my deepest respect and admiration.

  14. says

    tekanji – it was a joke. “U mad bro” was a joke – directed at me, mostly, for being clueless about where internet slang comes from.

    And I didn’t say anything about ragequitting! Unless that’s what “U mad” is used for…but it was just a joke. I wasn’t dismissing you, just goofing on words.

    I said after finding out it came from South Park and 4chan that I saw your point.

    I don’t much want to follow your links because they’re all tumblr and I don’t want to have to learn yet another form of social media. Redditt is bad enough…

  15. tekanji says


    My apologies, I didn’t understand that it was a joke. “U mad bro?” is typically used to taunt people who the person feels is raging, or has ragequitted, often with the intent to provoke more raging.

    Understood regarding Tumblr, although I still reccomend the second link because it’s exactly the same format as a normal blog post is (so there’s no need to understand Tumblr’s particular quirks).

    Again, I apologize for my part in the misunderstandings. Now I’m going back to lurking for real.

  16. Ant Allan says

    Teasing? Not entirely.

    I’d agree that Twitter is not the most effective or efficient medium for arguments with… what? … twerps, but it is certainly not silly to use it. There are ways to improve effectiveness, but the single best reason why it’s not silly to use Twitter for such an argument? That is where the twerp is! You can’t force the argument to continue elsewhere; unlike me, the twerp likely won’t willingly follow you to your blog. 😉

    One “successful” Twitter argument challenged a theist’s “uncaused cause” view of God; over a few days, she essentially came up with the idea of pantheism. Which, I thought, was a significant step in the right direction.


  17. says

    Oh, I think it’s better to ignore twerps than to try to argue with them on Twitter. It’s way too frustrating.

    You’ll never convince me, never, never!

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