The conviviality of niche Twitter
March 7, 2020 10:52 PM   Subscribe

Elizabeth May: "Please tell me about an extremely niche section of twitter that you never knew existed until you made them angry. One time I made Feed Swans Bread Twitter angry after i suggested food alternatives. FOR MONTHS I got angry tweets, until I finally deleted it. YOUR TURN." And the replies began. For example: "I argued that (human) placenta wasn't a vegan dish. Ooooooh the placenta-eating vegans were soooooo mad! It was cuckoo bananas." And...

A few of the responses on the twitter thread; there are many more (some quite bleak):

(((Adrian Benepe))): "Anti-bike helmet zealots. Never, ever suggest that wearing a bike helmet could save your life - or that not wearing one could endanger it, even if all the medical studies back you up."

Eric Budd: "I posted a story/commented on how local Facebook groups for moms can be places that spread toxic information about vaccines and medical care. never. again."

Anne Muntean: "I once observed that Prof. Snape was not a great romantic hero, but rather an obsessive and abusive creep. Some people had novel ideas of what to do to me with wands."

Jessica Routhier: "I mean, there was the whole Marie Kondo book thing, when I innocently tweeted something about how keeping only 30 books seems like kind of not enough for me, and that brought out the whole Books Are Virtue Signalling crowd that I never knew existed."

Byron C Clarke: "Not my own story as such but I discovered Nun Twitter when somehow a tweet got into my feed that said 'be the reason a nun clutches her rossary beads' and the goth teen who posted it got roasted by some social media savvy sisters"

MCC: "Hm. Well it wasn't so much that I made anyone *angry*. But one time - just once - I didn't realize it was a big deal, I was just happy with my mani-pedi - I made the mistake of posting a picture of my feet. Never again."

Jennifer Korinne: "Not twitter but IG. I have pet rats. If you post a pic with the wrong bedding or toys they will LIGHT YOU UP. I let one of mine play in a big exercise ball and you'd have thought I'd tortured it. Rat IG came for me so hard"

Emma: "I asked for vegetarian recipes in the interest of climate change and had all these meat fans tweeting hate mail and "studies" (sponsored by farmers) to me for ages, including one woman who runs The Ethical Omnivore twitter account telling me to shove my recipes up my ignorant ass"

Dembai (Plural System): "I once pissed off a ton of people for saying that Canada had stolen the official bald Eagle of America and that we'd give it back when you got Trump out of office. That's how I found out that there is a large group of Americans who really want to kill all Canadians. Like. All."

Elle Maruska: "Outdoor Cat Twitter has been more violently aggressive in my mentions than Literal Nazi Twitter tbh"

Charlotte Grubbs: "The most vitriolic replies I ever got were in response to a tweet about how it's fine for adults to read children's books."

Dr Philip Lee: "Oh there was one time, there is a subset of people who don't believe in the legitimacy of the French Government, because they believe the revolution was illegal, and they still have a pretender to the crown of France and everything."

Gretchen: "I found out Bee Movie Twitter exists by once randomly tweeting that the Bee Movie is nonsensical since all worker bees are female. Furious responses for days"

Kelsey Lewis: "I tweeted some joke once about how the new guy at work was always leaving the office toilet seat up. And wouldn’t ya know there are a handful of people who use Twitter dot com as a platform to tell the world that actually women should be putting the seat UP for men."

6-inch Sub: "Pro Almond Farming In California twitter has come at me quite a few times. I'm fairly sure it's a denomination of Fuck The Environment, I Want Snacks twitter"

Katie Anthony: "I once shared something sweet and insightful that my then-6yo said, and it was retweeted by someone with a huge follower count, and then I met That Never Happened You Thirsty Lying Liar Twitter."

André Alessi: "It's a toss-up between the 'barefoot is legal' people (I complained about a barefooted shopper at the supermarket) and the people who think AI is a communist hoax being used to secretly give overseas call centres more work (the 'AIs' are actually low paid offshore workers.)"

The Hoarse Whisperer: "Librarian Twitter"
posted by Wordshore (138 comments total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
 
In conclusion, people are awful and it's time to burn it all down.
posted by medusa at 11:04 PM on March 7 [26 favorites]


In conclusion, people are awful and it's time to burn it all down.

Yeah I can't believe she let her rat play in that exercise ball either.
posted by Literaryhero at 11:07 PM on March 7 [39 favorites]


Oh my god. Why does ANYONE use twitter
posted by potrzebie at 11:40 PM on March 7 [50 favorites]


The flip side is, which niche comment gangs am I in?

I’ve been one of several explaining how wrong a statement about Jane Austen was; ditto assumptions about Charles Darwin’s funding. Though I’m not actually on Twitter so I don’t think there was a pile-on beyond that in either case.

I don’t even have stochastic allies for the dignity of the polka. I have people to dance it with, but we don’t flock online.
posted by clew at 11:44 PM on March 7 [30 favorites]


AI is a communist hoax being used to secretly give overseas call centres more work (the 'AIs' are actually low paid offshore workers.)

That's so crazy it just might work!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:46 PM on March 7 [8 favorites]


Oh my god. Why does ANYONE use twitter

It has its uses, but yeah, open Twitter is a permanently risky place where even the most innocent of comments can lead to completely random strangers piling in, alerting their fellow angry niche, and piling on.

You know the scene in Airplane where the passenger is having a panic attack and people are queuing up to physically deal with her? THAT is open Twitter.

My own use of Twitter has changed a lot over the years (I started a few months after the service went live and have burned through a lot of accounts since then). My main account is now firmly locked. It has 107 followers (all followed back) and I know every one either in the physical world or by long-term online use or by reputation. About 20 of them are MeFites. 70%+ of my tweets are food-related, mostly pictures, and easily 95% are positive. There's zero outbreaks of anger, angst, drama, infighting or pile-ons, and I spend zero time having to deal with all that.

It may be a highly-walled garden, but from a mental health perspective and a simply getting-on-with-my-life perspective it works for me.
posted by Wordshore at 11:58 PM on March 7 [32 favorites]


my friend, a casual knitting hobbyist, made knitting twitter absolutely, incandescently F U R I O U S (and the most condescending i have ever seen anyone outside of cishet white male military history enthusiasts) when he excitedly declared that chris evans' sweater in knives out was amazing but looked really really hard for someone of his middling skill to try making
posted by poffin boffin at 12:02 AM on March 8 [48 favorites]


That one about the legitimacy of the French government reminds me of the time several years ago when I inadvertently pissed off some drunken and very devout Carlists in the wee hours of a Saturday morning on the 3 train in Brooklyn. I don’t think they were actual members of the Carlist political party… they were just a bunch of guys with a passionate belief that the wrong person is sitting on the Spanish throne. I was rather tipsy myself and found the whole messy conversation hilarious, so I immediately tweeted about it. The furious replies from other passionate Carlists (mainly in Spain, I gathered) started soon after and continued for days. I strongly suspect that some of them were the same guys I’d encountered on the subway, but there were so many others.
posted by theory at 12:08 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


The flip side is, which niche comment gangs am I in?

Oh, that's easy; I'm on Team Romantic Hero Snape. However, over in my corner of the fanfic universe, we don't deny that he's also an obsessive and abusive creep. We just... enjoy creepy abusive obsession stories. Probably a bit too much.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:41 AM on March 8 [16 favorites]


Oh my god. Why does ANYONE use twitter

Because they like picking fights with strangers?
posted by atoxyl at 12:48 AM on March 8 [22 favorites]


My favorite one was the nuns! I am sad I cannot read that thread immediately.

https://twitter.com/byroncclark/status/1236054857896718336

posted by taterpie at 12:51 AM on March 8 [4 favorites]


I don't understand the swan thing: there's a group of angry people arguing that feeding swans bread is in fact good? I thought it was approaching common knowledge that bread isn't great for birds?
posted by Pyry at 12:56 AM on March 8 [4 favorites]


This isn’t just Twitter, that anti-bike helmet niche is at least as old as alt.rec.cycling, which was incredibly toxic back in the [thunderclap] 90s
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 1:39 AM on March 8 [19 favorites]


My favorite one was the nuns! I am sad I cannot read that thread immediately.

EDIT: Wrong date, I found it!
posted by Literaryhero at 1:59 AM on March 8 [6 favorites]


Twitter gets weird because of amplification. It turns things that would feel harmless ("Terry the Teen Next Door is trying to rile us up again") and solicit nothing more than a eyeroll into major phenomena about which Something Must Be Done. The very structure both encourages trolling and encourages people to react stridently to things that should solicit at most a "huh, people are weird."

This is a feature when it comes to amplifying the voices that are often otherwise unheard. It is a bug when it triggers the "protect mah community!" instinct against relatively minor "transgressions."
posted by wierdo at 3:33 AM on March 8 [20 favorites]


The furious replies from other passionate Carlists (mainly in Spain, I gathered) started soon after and continued for days.

Generally I don't bother to Twitter-block-chain American trolls but I can tell you that my block list is in the tens of thousands, mostly followers of a particular asshole youtuber (Dalas is the Spanish equivalent of Pew Die Pie), VOX voters, soccer fans or random racists/misogynists. The categories overlap a lot.
posted by sukeban at 3:40 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Oh, and a bunch of TERFs, of course.
posted by sukeban at 3:41 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


I follow a lot of Kurdish and pro-Kurdish accounts. It’s mostly Turks commenting, talking about killing Kurds and such, but sometimes you’ll get to see funny “arguments” (I use it lightly) between Kurds about cultural milieu.
posted by gucci mane at 4:01 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


I don't understand the swan thing: there's a group of angry people arguing that feeding swans bread is in fact good? I thought it was approaching common knowledge that bread isn't great for birds?

The tweet that started the thread has, in itself, brought a "feed bread to the birds" tweeter to the table to argue with all and sundry...
posted by Wordshore at 4:13 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


I'm amazed at how many of those I actually have pretty strong feelings about. Maybe I AM niche Twitter
posted by lollusc at 4:36 AM on March 8 [13 favorites]


I predict every single reply to the original tweet is going to kick off another Twitter fight on the given topic.
posted by pharm at 4:44 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


I'm amazed at how many of those I actually have pretty strong feelings about.

That's the curse of the modern age. Back in Ye Olden Days it was hypothetically possible for J Random Peasant to have an opinion on the Spanish Succession, but it was practically unlikely for them to be asked, or anyone to care if they were. Now we have a firehose of minutiae shooting towards us, a million data about which we may have opinions, and a way of recording and distributing our reactions. So a billion Tweeters express their opinion of the factoids, then they express their opinion of their friends' opinions, then the friends express their opinions of the reaction, and so it goes. Everything is important and nothing means anything.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:46 AM on March 8 [15 favorites]


That's how I found out that there is a large group of Americans who really want to kill all Canadians. Like. All.

To be fair, Canada did sack Washington DC and burn the White House.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:05 AM on March 8 [19 favorites]


when he excitedly declared that chris evans' sweater in knives out was amazing but looked really really hard for someone of his middling skill to try making

What part of this did they object to?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:10 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


AI is a communist hoax being used to secretly give overseas call centres more work (the 'AIs' are actually low paid offshore workers).

Not a communist hoax but a capitalist one; fake “AI” fronting low-paid cubicle gnomes is likely in the majority.
posted by sudogeek at 5:11 AM on March 8 [13 favorites]


@poffin boffin: about your knitting friend, were they angry that he suggested that he himself couldn't knit it, or that Chris Evans' CHARACTER couldn't knit it?
posted by Sheydem-tants at 5:25 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


The outdoor/indoor cat thing seems to be a huge US/UK divide. In the UK, it's seen as really cruel to keep a cat indoors permanently, to the point that most shelters won't rehome cats to people who don't have secure outdoor space. It's a cultural norm, I guess, to the point where we've talked about having a cat but I'm not sure it would be happy indoors all the time.
posted by mippy at 5:44 AM on March 8 [19 favorites]


when he excitedly declared that chris evans' sweater in knives out was amazing but looked really really hard for someone of his middling skill to try making

What part of this did they object to?


@poffin boffin: about your knitting friend, were they angry that he suggested that he himself couldn't knit it, or that Chris Evans' CHARACTER couldn't knit it?

I mean, if we're gonna go with the true Twitter spirit, we should argue with each other about this RIGHT NOW CAPSLOCK by leaping wildly to conclusions about poffin boffin's anecdote despite having no actual information about the situation.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:46 AM on March 8 [22 favorites]


I follow a lot of people who write about old British TV/pop culture, and they get a lot of messages suggesting that because they like Blakes 7 and old TOTPs, they must also be nostalgic for the days when they didn't let foreigns into the country and gays didn't shove their sexuality down their throat. That's probably the closest to niche beef I see without having to explain to you all the nuances of FBPE Twitter and the madness of Graham Linehan.

Though a friend of mine got days of Michael Jackson stans arguing that 'Jacko' was a racist slur and demanding she go through several tons of court documents to understand that he was INNOCENT and that the throwaway joke she made was empirically incorrect.
posted by mippy at 5:48 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


So this is like beanplating, but with aggressive, mob characteristics?

I don't use the platform, but if I did, how does one avoid being on "open twitter"
posted by eustatic at 5:50 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


>Everything is important and nothing means anything.

If ever there was one kōan for the age of social media, it’s this.
posted by theory at 5:51 AM on March 8 [22 favorites]


I think the people who think this is a condition unique to Twitter have likely never attended a city council meeting in a small town where an important and probably unavoidable change to the landscape is being proposed. Groups of people argue. Groups of people supposedly on the same team argue even harder. Feels to me a lot more like a group dynamic problem than a social media problem, but I could be mistaken.
posted by sonascope at 5:53 AM on March 8 [35 favorites]




I complained about a barefooted shopper at the supermarket

Finding out that there are people who would be so offended by this as to complain about it has just made going everywhere barefoot, every chance I get, even even more enjoyable than it has been for the last forty years. I wouldn't have believed that that was possible, so thanks, Twitter!
posted by flabdablet at 6:24 AM on March 8 [8 favorites]


In the US I think the birder contingent has a strong anti-outdoor cat argument, and that has carried over into the general righteousness exhibited bypeople on the extremes of environmental urgency. But cats are territorial, and they don't really care whether their territory is indoors or out. The factors that make a cat happy or unhappy can be provided through either way of life.
posted by Miko at 6:45 AM on March 8 [9 favorites]


They all sound crazy and need something better to do with their time.

But...

A friend once sent me a screenshot to show me something and in I could see he Google something about whether the Moon landing was real and I was literally ready to argue with him about that point. He had Google it for some other reason, just to see what hoaxes were saying, but I was completely irrational about wanting to prove the landings were real.

So basically we're all about three square meals from turning cannibal and one innocent tweet away from joining a Twitter gang.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:30 AM on March 8 [22 favorites]


@eustatic Personally, I use it for single-sign on for things I don’t care about much. My tweets are pretty much inane ramblings. That seems to keep my feed off the radar, except for a few close friends whom I mostly don’t communicate with by Twitter.
posted by drivingmenuts at 7:33 AM on March 8


Where are the links to these fine cuts of beef?
posted by Selena777 at 7:34 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: at least there, it was a direct friend of yours, which avoids any network amplification. I make it a rule to hold back when I've only heard someone's opinion because someone else went, "hey look at this terrible opinion."
posted by RobotHero at 8:13 AM on March 8


I guess to clarify, I might still say "yeah, that opinion is pretty terrible" to other people discussing it, but I don't need to tell the opinion-haver how terrible their opinion is. I can safely assume multiple someones have got there before me.
posted by RobotHero at 8:17 AM on March 8


That's how I found out that there is a large group of Americans who really want to kill all Canadians. Like. All."

To be fair, there’s a large group of Americans who want to kill any all of any group you can name that isn’t them. Americans just fuckin love killing.
posted by rodlymight at 8:19 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


Now we have a firehose of minutiae shooting towards us, a million data about which we may have opinions, and a way of recording and distributing our reactions.

But at least we're generating a lot of value for shareholders. (Not Twitter's shareholders, of course, Twitter is notoriously unprofitable, but the marketing departments who represent Twitter's and Facebook's true user base are having a field day.)
posted by tobascodagama at 8:30 AM on March 8 [4 favorites]


Oh my god. Why does ANYONE use twitter

Because like any other large population of people it has awful people and wonderful people, and there are tools to control which of those people you interact with...
posted by MrBobaFett at 8:43 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


Given the number of times someone's hit my sturdily-shod feet with a shopping cart, I will not be doing grocery shopping barefoot anytime soon. Most folks'll never lose a toe, but then again, some folks'll. Can confirm it hurts!

I'm assuming we're meant to share whatever thoughts we have about all these subjects Right Now, yes?
posted by asperity at 8:46 AM on March 8 [11 favorites]


Books Are Virtue Signalling crowd

That is something that I went through myself. I had shelves and shelves of books, but I had to move regularly because of rent spikes.

So after boxing and unboxing and re-boxing for years I set them free to the local library.

But then my room felt so empty. And finding a quote online from my favorites is nice, but I prefer to have books. And Kindles are ... flibbertigibbet's about ownership.

So four years ago I started again. And I'm fine with whomever signalling whatever.
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 9:03 AM on March 8 [7 favorites]


Bat Twitter will come for you if you focus overmuch on the negative side of bats (or suggest they have a negative side)..

The flip side is, which niche comment gangs am I in?

People who actually read Marie Kondo and understand that she doesn’t say “you must throw away your books.” All she’s saying is make sure you actually care about all the stuff you’re storing in your home. If you value your 582903855 books please keep every single one!
posted by sallybrown at 9:08 AM on March 8 [27 favorites]


Books Are Virtue Signalling crowd

I was able to read through most of these with either a bemused chuckle or mild bafflement, but lest I think I am too detached to be part of a twitter mob, this is the one that had me seeing red, instantly.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:10 AM on March 8 [11 favorites]


Feels to me a lot more like a group dynamic problem than a social media problem, but I could be mistaken.

It's a social media problem in as much social media is ignorantly designed to foster terrible group dynamics when used in the way humans will.

Like, if you ban all the Nazis, Twitter will still be a nightmare. It's designed, and in fact prides itself on, this kind of worlds-collide context collapse, as if there's no such thing as an out-group.
posted by Merus at 9:13 AM on March 8 [8 favorites]


Feels to me a lot more like a group dynamic problem than a social media problem, but I could be mistaken.

I think you're correct. I know some people who actually paid $5 to have the privilege of piling on each other on a specific website.
posted by kimberussell at 9:14 AM on March 8 [31 favorites]


In conclusion, people are awful and it's time to burn it all down.

It’s from 2016, but the sentiment is evergreen:

The future is here and everything needs to be destroyed.
posted by Monochrome at 9:16 AM on March 8 [7 favorites]


Moth Truthers. My wife has a very popular IG account and once did a photo series involving humans and butterflies, which included a few butterfly-looking moths. The moth truthers came hard for her, pissed about the incorrect entomology.
posted by weed donkey at 9:17 AM on March 8 [18 favorites]


I'm a member of Siamese cat Instagram. Mostly we post pictures of cats, usually Siamese. The biggest debate I've seen is whether Siamese is a breed or a coloration. Most of us are in the coloration camp since it doesn't matter how overbred your show cat is, they look and sound and act exactly like street Siamese.
Cats!
posted by fiercekitten at 9:30 AM on March 8 [7 favorites]


Bat Twitter will come for you if you focus overmuch on the negative side of bats (or suggest they have a negative side).

Apparently I'm a latent member of Bat Twitter because just reading this, I found my temperature rising at the implication there was any negative side to bats.

I like bats.
posted by feckless at 9:34 AM on March 8 [21 favorites]


Ha, feckless, I was reflexively composing a response in my head about how so many bats are endangered and how perpetuating negative stereotypes about them only causes harm and how they're so important for pest control and pollination and seed dispersal and and and ...

And then I realized maybe I shouldn't be rolling my eyes quite so hard about all(/most) of these other niche groups.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:42 AM on March 8 [7 favorites]


Oh my god. Why does ANYONE use twitter

Because I like Library Twitter. And dogsledding Twitter. And Infosec Twitter. And Obsolete Electronics Twitter.
posted by wotsac at 9:46 AM on March 8 [11 favorites]


I often refer to the American Civil war/War Between the States as the Second American Civil war and once it blew the fuck up on Twitter. Angry screeds for months about how the American revolution wasn't a civil war. From two sides no less. One side were offended that the I'd call the revolution a civil war because obviously it was a valiant fight against oppression and was heroic and blah, blah, blah and another side that were of the opinion that calling anything but the War Between The States a civil war cheapened the War Between the States (and there were two sides (Union and Confederate) of that). Guys (and it was exclusively guys from what I could tell) would come back repeated with "Another thing about why ...." as they thought of stuff. I ended up deleting the account and starting anew.
posted by Mitheral at 10:06 AM on March 8 [16 favorites]


Just wait until these folks hear about Next Door....
posted by photoslob at 10:08 AM on March 8 [16 favorites]


there is a subset of people who don't believe in the legitimacy of the French Government, because they believe the revolution was illegal, and they still have a pretender to the crown of France

I've run into the Legitimist/Orleanist/Bonapartist factions a bit. So many different flavors of right-wing kookery. They're the sort of people who take over online arguments, but never seem to appear in actual opinion polling or elections results. (Or, the sort of people who are totally a joke until they aren't, if you want to be more cynical about it.)
posted by gimonca at 10:09 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


French royalists are definitely a thing. I remember reading an article by a UK journalist who’d moved to a French village & naturally sent their children to the nearest primary school, not realising that by doing so they had taken sides in the royalist vs. republican social divide that had split the village for the previous couple of centuries.
posted by pharm at 10:13 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


I'll add another observation that these hotbutton focus groups predate Twitter -- puppy adoption/rescue discussions have been emotionally charged for a very, very long time. Twitter expanded their reach and volume.
posted by gimonca at 10:14 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


this isn't something you can avoid unless you lock your account, right? people just search keywords and start fights and it's not dependent on if you get retweeted out beyond your circle?
posted by gaybobbie at 10:17 AM on March 8


The one section of the internet that I absolutely fear the wrath of more than any other is parrot internet. If you aren’t just sharing a cute video and are actually trying to discuss parrot things, it doesn’t matter - you are ALWAYS Doing It Wrong.
posted by MysticMCJ at 10:19 AM on March 8 [8 favorites]


Fans of (take your pick of a pro or college team) Twitter. Ask anyone who has done any sports writing, they are an insane mob who define the term "shoot the messenger." And God help you if you are a player or coach.

Good Lord, fans on Twitter are vicious.
posted by bawanaal at 10:19 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


I spend a great deal of time on Twitter. This has never happened to me. Maybe I just don't tweet anything interesting? Or maybe it's because I'm pretty fast with the mute button on anything vaguely annoying. Mute is better than block, because they can't tell you've muted them and will either just keep tweeting into the void or go away, "satisfied" they've won. And my mix of news and animal pics ticks along nicely.
posted by jb at 10:20 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Virtue Signalling

That's a semantically ruined term, but it's actually not hard to make the case that someone posting about how many books they have is doing some kind of performance. Not that there's anything wrong with that! They are just bonding with other book people, perhaps. But there's always someone who thinks that everything people say or do is directed at them, and is a statement that they think they are better. In conclusion: insecure people are a land of contrasts.
posted by thelonius at 10:31 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]


Glad someone else pointed out the Truth about Marie Kondo and Books, so I didn't feel compelled to get into it on that... (that, in fact, preoccupied Librarian Twitter, and Librarian Everything Else, for a while, until some of the smarter librarians corrected them).

This isn’t just Twitter, that anti-bike helmet niche is at least as old as alt.rec.cycling, which was incredibly toxic back in the [thunderclap] 90s

Yep. How disappointing it was for me that, right when I was getting back into cycling as an adult in a big way, I ran into all that.

And, again, it's not just Twitter. Although, sometimes getting swarmed by niche [whatever] can give one the last push to give up something that was getting kind of tired or bad anyway. I was working my way through David Willis' webcomic Dumbing of Age, and was starting to realize that he was doing the same thing that Chris Claremont did on his X-Men run--in the effort to make the female characters complex and three-dimensional and everything, he ended up giving them backgrounds that were not only pretty complex but pretty fucked-up, something that didn't afflict most of the male characters. And then, I made the mistake--nay, the sin--of identifying a shotgun as an assault rifle. Whoopsie! Well, I was getting tired of the strip anyway, not to mention Willis himself, who can be incredibly thin-skinned.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:33 AM on March 8 [2 favorites]


I have white male privilege so I get an order of magnitude less of this shit than female/queer/non-white identified people, but even so: I also have 43,524 followers (as of a moment ago) and I have learned NEVER EVER EVER ask an unqualified open-ended question, even rhetorically, and to be as fast on the block/mute buttons as an old west gunslinger was on the trigger.

Also, my skin has thickened up enough that I could audition as a pantomime rhino.
posted by cstross at 10:46 AM on March 8 [24 favorites]


I miss funny twitter.
posted by double bubble at 10:49 AM on March 8 [5 favorites]




That's how I found out that there is a large group of Americans who really want to kill all Canadians. Like. All.

To be fair, Canada did sack Washington DC and burn the White House.


To be fair, probably some increasingly large number of Americans want to sack D.C. and burn the White House, too.
posted by limeonaire at 11:02 AM on March 8 [15 favorites]


Twitter outrage has never touched me and my 125 followers. I did find this quote funny though:

"I once said “Steve Brannon looks like Angela Lansbury swallowed a mailbox full of dogs” and got dragged by Lansbury stans. Also dog lovers. Also UPS"
posted by sensate at 11:05 AM on March 8 [24 favorites]


MetaFilter: I don’t even have stochastic allies for the dignity of the polka.
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:08 AM on March 8 [8 favorites]


I mean, Twitter is particularly awful, but anyone else remember the time that Metafilter got into it over air-drying clothes?
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:20 AM on March 8 [12 favorites]


Is there a niche twitter community about not following directions, because most of these hardly qualify as niche interests?
posted by 99_ at 11:22 AM on March 8


Where are the links to these fine cuts of beef?

Ha, I'd like to read the actual tweets too, because nobody's going to be all "Yeah, a select group of people got angry with me on Twitter, but that was because I was being fighty and contributing to the whole thing"
posted by 23skidoo at 11:23 AM on March 8 [3 favorites]


If you ever want to start a flame war in Boston (or, I suspect, any large city), just tweet
Bike lanes
Guaranteed within 20 minutes you will have an infinite scroll of bicyclists and drivers yelling at each other.
posted by adamg at 11:23 AM on March 8 [15 favorites]


this isn't something you can avoid unless you lock your account, right?

In addition to just being free with the mute and block functions, I also just am really careful about using hashtags. I use Twitter to talk about my work, and if my work intersects with some current event, fandom or major controversy, I definitely do not use those hashtags because I don't want the horde running my way.
posted by Miko at 11:24 AM on March 8 [1 favorite]


I found out Bee Movie Twitter exists by once randomly tweeting that the Bee Movie is nonsensical since all worker bees are female. Furious responses for days

Bees in that movie physically land a plane by carrying it, give testimony in civil court, and unionize - and this is the problem with it?!
posted by scruffy-looking nerfherder at 11:26 AM on March 8 [11 favorites]


OH the knitters were angry that my friend said the sweater looked too hard for he himself to make, and then made a joke about not even being sure which hole of a sweater you put your feet through to comically exaggerate his ignorance on the subject of sweaters in general, which caused further incoherent fury

it was an amazing day
posted by poffin boffin at 12:11 PM on March 8 [26 favorites]


Bees in that movie physically land a plane by carrying it

and of course that would never work, because it's been scientifically proven that bees can't even fly.
posted by flabdablet at 12:12 PM on March 8 [7 favorites]


I mean, we (knitters) brought down the Olympic committee when they got snippy with us and forced not one but two apologies out of them. Our sticks are pointy and we are CRANKY sometimes.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:16 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


i personally don't think chris evans could knit that sweater and i'm excited to discuss that at length with anyone who feels strongly about it
posted by poffin boffin at 12:20 PM on March 8 [23 favorites]


Watching the show Call the Midwife (which is based on memoirs of a midwife from
50s London).

Dude ended up with a tropical infection from a roundworm that enters through soles of the naked feet. 16 years after he had been in Burma in the war. Long incubation period. Not at the end of the episode yet but it’s looking pretty grim.

Bet he’d love to make a contribution to niche barefoot twitter.
posted by affectionateborg at 12:22 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


i personally don't think chris evans could knit that sweater and i'm excited to discuss that at length with anyone who feels strongly about it

"Chris Evans can't knit"
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:33 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


Twitter is working on features to let you limit who can reply to your tweets.

I've already perfected such a feature.

I think you're correct. I know some people who actually paid $5 to have the privilege of piling on each other on a specific website.

I'm not going to say what the feature is.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 12:35 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


Seems like we're just beginning to see the effects of basic communication "scaling" to huge (global) extents. It seems to have a lot of different effects that we're just trying to adjust to. (And figure out)

I've seen claims that a lot of niche crazy tended to die off when it didn't find local support. (With different dynamics mentioned). Now that niche crazy can reach across vast distances. It *will* find support wo much looking. And after a while the support comes looking for them.

The scaling also has *some* good effects. But those don't seem to be as large. At least at this point. Hopefully we'll work it out.
posted by aleph at 1:01 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


I've seen Knives Out. I do not think Ransom's top priority in his playboy life was knitting his own sweater. Call it a hunch.

Bees in that movie physically land a plane by carrying it, give testimony in civil court, and unionize - and this is the problem with it?!

Bees also can become a lawyer, get the use of honey banned, and DATE A HUMAN BEING. That movie is one of the most insane ones ever created.

Seriously, Twitter will get you socially killed and there is no way in hell under any circumstances that I will ever use it because I would just get murdered. The amplification just makes everyone too insane and brings out the stalkers, doxxers, SWAT teams, etc. NOPE.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:02 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]


I got in a fight with someone once over whether Chapuys, representative of the Spanish Crown in the English Tudor court hated Anne Boleyn or not. They called me names for hours and made fun of my Twitter bio.

(In case anybody else would like to fight about it, I firmly believe the dude who called Boleyn the French Whore probably didn't care much for her.)
posted by headspace at 1:52 PM on March 8 [15 favorites]


i keep trying to start fights about cicero but no one will take the bait
posted by poffin boffin at 1:58 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]


i personally don't think chris evans could knit that sweater

Chris Evans can do anything! YOU TAKE THAT BACK!!!
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:07 PM on March 8 [6 favorites]


If you ever want to start a flame war in Boston (or, I suspect, any large city), just tweet

Bike lanes


Brb: testing this hypothesis.
posted by jb at 2:24 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


When talking to folks in the UK/Europe, I've learned just to say that my cats are indoor-only because of the hawk that lived in my backyard, then start talking about the eating habits of giant American birds. If that doesn't work, I say that the cats are fine with having a big American house as their only territory. I have a feeling that half of these people think I live in a McMansion, but it seems to work.
posted by dinty_moore at 2:58 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


Twitter is working on features to let you limit who can reply to your tweets.

ObXKCD: Social Media

Interesting how, despite all the data they've collected about people, there's no option for "limit this to people in my city/state/country." (The way to reduce the problems from people from just changing their location to dogpile on each new thread: Only allow one switch per week, and the whole algorithm for what you normally get shown gets re-optimized to your new location.) There's no option for "only show this to graduates of my school" or "only allow replies from Democrats."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:04 PM on March 8 [3 favorites]


> atoxyl: "Oh my god. Why does ANYONE use twitter?
Because they like picking fights with strangers?"


Oh, Yeah? Sez who?
posted by theora55 at 3:23 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


"I once said “Steve Brannon looks like Angela Lansbury swallowed a mailbox full of dogs” and got dragged by Lansbury stans. Also dog lovers. Also UPS"

I saw that too and A) laughed and B) then beanplated whether the UPS instead of USPS was a typo or done intentionally and if the latter WHAT DOES THAT MEAN.
posted by Mitheral at 3:28 PM on March 8 [5 favorites]


I'm still looking for lesbian twitter that has zero overlap with TERF twitter.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:56 PM on March 8 [11 favorites]


MCC: [...] “I made the mistake of posting a picture of my feet. Never again."

Not long ago I saw a floor-level video on Twitter of a cute puppy doing cute puppy things. The bare feet of a woman standing in the background were covered by an emoji sticker. It made me sad that I knew exactly why.
posted by ejs at 3:58 PM on March 8 [10 favorites]


All I'm saying is go ahead and post your paella recipe on Twitter. I'll wait here.
posted by kandinski at 4:11 PM on March 8 [9 favorites]


Every Single Character In Tolkien Must Be White Twitter has a lot of both unresolved anger and spare time, as I discovered after posting one comment about the casting of the films.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:39 PM on March 8 [12 favorites]


I was thinking "hey, but" the French Monarchists like: didn't they already have a Bourbon Restoration? then I realized: sigh.
posted by ovvl at 5:05 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Moth Truthers...

It’s been a long-standing truth all the way back to old skool Flickr that if you dont know what something is and want it identified, if you ask “what’s this?” you’ll get crickets, but if you mis-identify it as a statement, the experts will rush in to tell you how wrong you are & you’ll get your answer.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:44 PM on March 8 [27 favorites]


Moth class is hard!
posted by thelonius at 6:38 PM on March 8 [12 favorites]


Hoping someone here remembers who this was and can link to it. In the past year or so, an author went hilariously afoul of Library Twitter. The author had a new book out, and was making a list of gentle suggestions of how to support your author friend when she has a new book out, and one suggestion was to consider buying a copy of your friend's book instead of checking it out of the library. Library Twitter extracted an apology.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 7:16 PM on March 8 [4 favorites]


I thought the post was about Steve Bannon, I laughed my head off...but Next Door...I rejoined to defend my next door neighbor from a truly crazy woman who put up a sex ad about her, she put the ad up on Craigslist, (with phone number and times available) then copied it over to Next Door; then had her swatted, twice. I negotiated with Next Door to take it all down. I have a twitter account, I do not go there. Life is hard enough.

I like Brandon Blatcher's comment about three missed meals away from...
posted by Oyéah at 8:47 PM on March 8


Hm. Please tell me about an extremely niche section of twitter that you never knew existed until you found out such a lovely thing existed.
posted by away for regrooving at 10:23 PM on March 8 [1 favorite]


Linguist Twitter seems pretty chill (except for the arguments about philosophy of syntax) and has the best wug jokes.
posted by away for regrooving at 10:30 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


I was chatting with Emma about anti-vegetarian and vegan rage, and relating some of my own experiences, when some guy accused me of being ONE OF THOSE vegans. He even compared veganism to "white supremacy."

It is truly a special moment, and one where I can thank the fine folks of Metafilter.

Maybe I can piss off the French monarchists next? I'm feeling ambitious!
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 11:08 PM on March 8 [2 favorites]


Yes, Twitter is awful, but 30-50 feral hogs will ruin anyone's day. It's also pretty great.
posted by maryr at 11:33 PM on March 8 [8 favorites]


Oh my god. Why does ANYONE use twitter

Because it's wonderful, done right.

I think a lot of people arrive on it and get overwhelmed. Which I understand. Often it's because they expect it to be a moderated and community-curated space (like Metafilter). But it isn't. You have to create that space yourself through the choices you make - who you follow, and who you let follow or interact with you.

My tips:

1) Don't follow lots of people, big name celebs or faceless corporate accounts.
2) Only follow people you find interesting on Twitter. Either because they consistently post thoughtful/funny stuff, or are good at spotting/retweeting others who do.
3) Don't argue/debate people you don't know.
4) As cstross says, block and hide aggressively. You quickly learn to spot the type of person who is about to ruin your, or your followers', day by shitposting. No point giving them the breathing room.
5) Lean into the medium, don't fight it. Its limits make it a fun creative space. Some examples:
--- Threading. Great for radio-play style scripts and short, sharp info dumps about things people might not know. I've found it's an incredible vehicle for highlighting forgotten stories from history e.g. Mary Burchell: Romance writer who helped Jewish refugees.
--- As a recommendation engine, if you've curated your followers well enough. I regularly use it to solicit suggestions of places I should go on holiday, books I should read, documentaries I should watch and devices/apps/software I should buy when the need arises.

6) Recognise that if you have ~5,000 followers or more, you have a platform. Use it wisely:

--- Don't feed the trolls by quoting them or replying, unless they're attacking another follower. Then reply (to show support) but then block.
--- Do signal boost good info, or good people.
--- Do have conversations and fun with your followers.
--- Be an ally at all times.
--- Remember that by blocking trolls you are creating a nicer space for your followers too, because they can't shitpost on your future content.

Of course, sadly, it also massively helps if you're a straight, white male. That's the thing that saddens and infuriates me most about it as a platform. I have enormous respect for a whole bunch of creators I follow for the sheer amount of shite they have to block / deal with sometimes.

Overall though, I love Twitter. I've carved out a nice space where lots of people seem to follow me for lots of different reasons and I get to interact with them all in some way or another.

Just this weekend, I've ended up with an insanely long list of female SciFi authors I need to read as well as get a lot of blokes talking about women they admire who aren't their relatives. Go read the replies on both of those and you'll see that Twitter can be a fun place to be, if you can find your place on it.

And honestly, sometimes it can be just so damn wonderful to weaponise it for the forces of good.

Last month, one of my followers made a throwaway comment about her history-obsessed son with Aspergers (for whom she is primary carer) trying to save up for a school trip to Pompeii. I contacted her privately and said that if she decided to set up a fundraiser she should let me know. She did. Within two hours, my followers had donated enough to send both him, and his best friend there.

When Twitter is good, it's very, very good. I do agree though that when it's bad, it's awful.
posted by garius at 3:04 AM on March 9 [22 favorites]


Please tell me about an extremely niche section of twitter that you never knew existed until you found out such a lovely thing existed.

Paleontology art twitter - overlapping with invertebrate biology twitter.
posted by jb at 4:01 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


My Twitter has been locked down for years. I miss being able to engage with anyone outside of my own personal bubble sometimes, and have contemplated unlocking it or starting a new public account.

Then I read stuff like this and, ah, nope, I'm good.
posted by Glier's Goetta at 4:20 AM on March 9 [3 favorites]


BarefootIsLegal are notoriously aggressive across Facebook as well. One of the most perpetually aggrieved not-actually-oppressed folks I've encountered since Trotskyites discovered social media.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:04 AM on March 9 [6 favorites]


goth teen who posted it got roasted by some social media savvy sisters

As a young Catholic boy I learned very early on that you never mess with nuns much in the same way you learn early on which priests to avoid for confessional.
posted by Ashwagandha at 7:11 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


I tend to figure that the people going barefoot are really only harming themselves and possibly other barefoot people. Any other foot-borne diseases are going to be stopped by the shoes of the shoe-wearing population. So I neither see the point of getting upset about people being barefoot in public or advocating angrily for it.
posted by Karmakaze at 7:32 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


took me a minute to parse "anti-bike helmet zealot" this morning. Like damn, helmet zealots are a thing? and they're out against big bike??
posted by zsh2v1 at 7:45 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


"Into This Particular Area Of History Via Fandom", on any social media. They are generally friendlier than a lot of the above, but really want to correct you about things. Less agressive than "White Dudes Who Are Really Into Military History", but more terrifyingly in-depth. Like, the military history dudes will wade in to correct you about a General's tactics and a detail of the firearms used, but history-via-fandom will correct you about that in greater detail, and also that he parted his hair on the other side and you have misspelled the name of his dog.
posted by Vortisaur at 8:00 AM on March 9 [3 favorites]


All I'm saying is go ahead and post your paella recipe on Twitter. I'll wait here.

In the same vein, I have learned not to mention I'm even thinking about making, eating, or looking at chili around Americans on social media.
posted by Feminazgul at 8:21 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


"I tweeted some joke once about how the new guy at work was always leaving the office toilet seat up. And wouldn’t ya know there are a handful of people who use Twitter dot com as a platform to tell the world that actually women should be putting the seat UP for men."

There's nothing quite as foolish as seeing a man stand to pee at a sit-down toilet. Sit down, dumbass.
posted by GoblinHoney at 10:08 AM on March 9 [4 favorites]


There's nothing quite as foolish as seeing a man stand to pee at a sit-down toilet.

... if you are literally able to see him standing, chances are he's doing something else wrong here too...

(This thought brought to you by the unwelcome experience of walking into an unlocked, door-ajar stall in a unisex public toilet at a London art gallery and finding it already occupied. CLOSE AND LOCK THE DOOR, you barbarians!)
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 10:28 AM on March 9 [2 favorites]


The niche community I witnessed off Twitter, including Metafilter: the "Bicyclists don't need to stop at intersections" group. Evidently if a car hits a bicycle crossing against the light it's their fault, because stopping at the intersection would require the bicyclist to take their shoes out of the clips, which would cause them to fall, and anyway, it takes too much effort to get back up to speed.

As a bicyclist myself, my thinking that a bicycle pedal you can't easily take your shoe out of is a safety issue is evidently crazy talk.I'm also pretty sure there's similar communities for "ride against traffic rather than with it" and "serve across the street in the middle of traffic".
posted by happyroach at 11:33 AM on March 9 [7 favorites]


Wait till these people figure out how people are raising their kids and what they believe happens when you die.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:14 PM on March 9 [2 favorites]


Not Twitter, but the local Facebook group has revealed to me the existence of the "of course it's fine for people to drop litter if they want to, that's what we employ street cleaners for, OMG if it bothers you THAT much why are you complaining about it instead of just picking it up?" people. I'm rather thrown that these people exist at the same moment in history as the "if you buy a 5p plastic bag because you didn't bring enough bags with you to the supermarket, you might as well be SMOTHERING A BABY TURTLE WITH IT YOURSELF you MONSTER" crowd.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:23 PM on March 9 [5 favorites]


the existence of the "of course it's fine for people to drop litter if they want to, that's what we employ street cleaners for, OMG if it bothers you THAT much why are you complaining about it instead of just picking it up?" people

Polarization is a terrible thing, and social media makes it worse, and it's sad to see communities divide into warring tribes and so on and so forth. But if there really are people who really do see the world this way, as opposed to simply saying they do on social media for the trolling lulz, then they have what is indisputably the worst attitude in the world. Almost everything wrong with the world today stems directly from that attitude.

There are very very few global problems that wouldn't be vastly improved if more people cared more about leaving the spaces they occupy in slightly better condition than they found them.

If you drop your cigarette butt in the street, or toss your McD's packaging out your car window, or put down your half-consumed bottle of Dasani and leave it behind, or bury your plastic bait bag in the beach sand, you've made a bad choice that you should feel bad about.

That said: banana peels, apple cores, dog turds and other such items composed entirely of nutrients for microbes belong under the leaf litter under the nearest shrub, not wrapped in plastic and sunk deep in a landfill.
posted by flabdablet at 1:07 AM on March 10 [6 favorites]


if there really are people who really do see the world this way

I've never spoken to one in person (and I keep out of the arguments in the Facebook group), but unfortunately, the state of British pavements, verges, hedges etc. suggests very strongly that they do exist. The amount of litter here is, or should be, a matter of deep national shame; I've not seen anything like it anywhere else I've been.

I couldn't agree more with your "worst attitude in the world".
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 3:28 AM on March 10 [2 favorites]


Seems to me that the best solution for littering is to persuade the free market to deal with it.

If every disposable item, not just drink containers, had a mandatory deposit put on it - something of the order of a dollar for drink containers down to maybe ten cents for a Mars Bar wrapper or cigarette butt - then litter would become a valuable resource and scavenging it would provide a worthwhile enough income stream for enough people that the amount left lying around to be blown and washed into the waterways should shrink to almost nothing.

The only people who end up paying more for their consumables under a deposit scheme are those who actually discard their disposables instead of returning them to a deposit redemption centre. If there really are people who can't be arsed to manage their own refuse in a responsible manner, I say let them self-select to fund cleaning it up by paying more than the rest of us for everything they use.
posted by flabdablet at 7:17 AM on March 10 [3 favorites]


The only people who end up paying more for their consumables under a deposit scheme are those who actually discard their disposables instead of returning them to a deposit redemption centre.

Getting places is hard/impossible for tons of groups of people, lots of whom literally-literally can't afford to pay more for every.single.item than they are currently paying. Litter sucks, but the answer to litter sucking shouldn't be something else that also sucks.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:10 AM on March 10 [5 favorites]


That said: banana peels, apple cores, dog turds and other such items composed entirely of nutrients for microbes belong under the leaf litter under the nearest shrub, not wrapped in plastic and sunk deep in a landfill.

Gentle dissent - the microbes in your particular location may not have a taste for banana peels or apple cores, or any other item that would have naturally evolved to be in your area. So the "it's organic material" argument may ultimately be a bit shakey. ….That said, I don't think people who do drop the occasional orange peel under a bush are evil minions of Satan or anything.

….The Knitting Twitter Niche bit in particular is making me remember the days of Live Journal with a particular fondness, because some of those discussions got wound up, yo. Someone in a knitting LJ community posted a rant about the high price of some exclusive yarn, and had the throwaway comment about how "it costs like it's spun from God's magical pubic hairs or something" - and drew down the ire of several Christian knitters taking her to task for her crassness.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on March 10 [7 favorites]


God's magical pubic hairs? I love it so much.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:56 PM on March 10


My main use for Twitter is to monitor Extremely Local Weather Twitter (like this) and related stuff for my county/city. I also have a separate list of breaking-news-related stuff that I turn back on during Big Things (pandemics, for example).

Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing Twitter wrong, but then I see stuff like this and feel way better.
posted by jquinby at 7:06 AM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Getting places is hard/impossible for tons of groups of people

It's not people that a universal packaging deposit scheme would require to get to extra places, though, it's packaging.

I can see no in-principle reason why the very same logistical pathways currently used to supply people with packaged goods could not also be made to run in reverse, collecting used packaging from those same people in those same places and shipping it back upstream. There are an awful lot of delivery vehicles of all sizes returning to base empty; why are they not returning to base part-loaded with empty packaging going back upstream, with the deposits applicable to that packaging being handed back at each transfer stage? The mere fact of disposability doesn't make disposal mandatory.

Litter is not caused by people who can't get places, it's caused by people who do get places that they then deliberately choose to crap up with their discards. And if we design our packaging return logistical systems properly, these are the only people who would end up paying more for their packaged goods than the rest of us because they're the only ones who would not be getting their deposits back.

The idea of garbage needs to be made obsolete. It's based on a notion that ought to be clearly understood not to be true in this day and age: that there is an "away" to throw things to.

Present-day waste disposal systems are based entirely on the notion that waste is a noun, not a verb; that the materials being handled are inherently valueless, to be smooshed together and dumped. Systems built that way are not a good fit for recycling, despite the best efforts of all levels of government to pretend that they are. Bulk undifferentiated garbage handling is for garbage, not for recycled packaging, which would be far better dealt with by arranging to return it to the suppliers it came from as well as having dedicated public-facing recycling collection points sprinkled about the place.

And if we want people to do the extra handling that would certainly be required to keep used packaging out of the landfill stream and transport it efficiently, ultimately to recycling facilities, and avoid dirty and wasteful centralized sorting by never crossing the used packaging streams in the first place, then every item of packaging needs to have a value attached to it that's high enough to make people see responsible closed-loop packaging handling as worth their while to participate in.

Drinks containers are a natural first item to start putting deposits on. For a start they comprise a pretty large proportion of the litter encountered in the wild, and for seconds we already have many decades of historical experience with completely workable return and re-use logistical arrangements for glass bottles. No reason at all that those couldn't be revived for the plastics age. But every package should eventually get included in a deposit-based round-trip handling scheme.

Done properly it should end up cheaper than what we do at present, where we just keep on kicking the hidden costs of our ill-designed goods handling systems along to future generations. Avoiding making a mess in the first place always involves less work than cleaning one up.
posted by flabdablet at 9:52 AM on March 11 [4 favorites]


It's not people that a universal packaging deposit scheme would require to get to extra places, though, it's packaging.

This seems completely different than any other deposit scheme I've ever heard of, then. Is someone going to come to my house to collect the packaging that I'd like the deposits from? If not, then people are going to have to a place to get their deposits back. This idea sounds horrible.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:55 PM on March 11 [2 favorites]


persuade the free market to deal with it.

If the current state of the world, and especially the US, haven't demonstrated to you how horribly the "free market" deals with large-scale societal issues, then . . . I dunno, I'm really at a loss for words, here.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:59 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


It's a terrible idea, but not one that other people haven't floated. It's like the Michigan Deposit Scheme, the numbers just don't work. The companies that make these products don't want them back and aren't set up to handle the material process it. Many beverage producers are also not even the same companies as the makers of the bottles. They have no vested interest in recouping the equally valueless product that would result from downcycling (which all plastics recycling is). They are manufacturers who make things from raw material; it would require a huge investment for them to also become processors who clean and break down and process and reshape and produce recycled material, and that investment would likely be far greater than any potential recovery of revenue. The problem is the stuff is made of material intended to be waste; all it is is waste that temporary holds something. It's not a good material (like glass was, for instance) that has other uses and an indefinite lifespan.

It's your basic neoliberal solution, a lot like the Plastic Bank - we don't need regulation and we don't need constraints on our addiction to convenience, we just need to incentivize the market to take care of it. It doesn't work. If the idea had any merit it would already be standard practice. It doesn't.
posted by Miko at 6:45 PM on March 11 [4 favorites]


I apologize, flabdablet. That came out a little rude and dramatic. I've been in the plastic wars a long time. I must be a little battle-hardened.
posted by Miko at 7:04 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


If the idea had any merit it would already be standard practice.

That sounds like one of the standard Economist Jokes: How many conservative economists does it take to screw in a light bulb? None. Eventually, the darkness will make the light bulb screw itself in.

I dunno, I'm really at a loss for words, here

I'm sorry. Using the words "free market" was a little bit provocative, implying as it did to some extent an assumption and acceptance of the broken and inadequate laissez-faire regulatory environments that our current free markets operate within.

Obviously there can be no solution to the problem of garbage without a fundamental underpinning of laws that clearly define removing it from the environment as a duty of care to the public on the part of those who manufacture it. The underlying principle needs to be that if you're selling product that has any degree of durability (and this includes any packaging it ships with) then you also become legally responsible for taking it back at the end of its useful life from anyone who requests that you do so, or contracting with somebody else to fulfil that obligation on your behalf.

If the Coca Cola Corporation found itself on the receiving end of a mountain of incoming used plastic that it was legally responsible for dealing with, then re-usable packaging and packaging materials capable of being remanufactured at low cost would become de rigeur PDQ.

In a free market operating in that regulatory environment, putting deposits on packaging would be a solution to the problem not of garbage generally, but of littering specifically. The free market is good at increasing activity that's profitable and decreasing activity that's expensive, without needing detailed planning to make that happen. Where it fails completely is in the assignment of appropriate prices to items and activities with broad-scale social consequence; it usually misses the forest for the trees, and that's a guide to the scale at which regulation needs to be applied.

I remain quite convinced that the overall cost to ordinary people of this integrated approach, as measured over say three or four generations, would be lower than that of cleaning up a widespread accumulation of non-biodegradable shit that's fifty times bigger than the mind-mangling quantities of it we've already managed to dump, which is where we'll be within one generation if we keep on as we are right now.
posted by flabdablet at 8:32 PM on March 11 [3 favorites]


Is someone going to come to my house to collect the packaging that I'd like the deposits from?

If you regularly get people coming to your house to deliver goods, I envision those same people taking back used packaging for the same suppliers whose goods they're delivering. Sorting packaging to be returned according to supplier and ensuring that it's clean enough to be acceptable would be on you.

If not, then people are going to have to a place to get their deposits back.

In general this would be the same place they go to get their packaged goods in the first place.

This idea sounds horrible.

It sounds a lot less horrible to me than the consequences of maintaining our present delusion that open loops are actually a thing.
posted by flabdablet at 9:50 PM on March 11 [1 favorite]


Someone just mentioned paella on my slice of Twitter. Valencians are being kind about it, because it was well meant, but also funny:

https://twitter.com/mary_boleyn/status/1240363112563384326

(I think the original poster is in on the joke, btw. In any case, this time it's all in good fun.)
posted by kandinski at 8:48 PM on March 18 [2 favorites]


Apparently there are a lot of people who think the only book anyone has read is Harry Potter.
posted by Mitheral at 11:45 AM on April 6 [1 favorite]


« Older It’s a teleportation machine, but for ethics   |   Look who's redefining marriage now Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments