My heavily left-wing Twitter feed has seized upon a tweet from some obscure right-wing account that made the bonehead error of saying that Tammy Duckworth failed to “stand up” for veterans and then deleted it. By all accounts, they aren’t handling the situation as graciously as they could be, but still, the scene is ugly. It is literally a mirror image of right-wing harrassment campaigns — mocking the very idea of being able to delete a Tweet, fantasizing about people losing their jobs, etc.
If it turns out they were consciously mocking Duckworth’s disability and then thought better of it, I suppose the treatment is more justified. But from what I can see right now, this is just another instance of the bipartisan “smell weakness, then mercilessly swarm” routine that everyone has apparently decided is a healthy and beneficial norm for online life.
One of the most disturbing things to me is how many people are apparently opposed to the very idea of deleting a tweet or post, as though it’s an illegitimate attempt to avoid the “punishment” you deserve. Maybe Twitter should just remove the deletion function altogether, right? Is that the world we all want to live in now — a world where once you hit post, it is on the permanent public record for ever and ever and you can never escape it? Maybe universal vigilante surveillance is the way to go. Maybe the problem with the NSA is that it’s not participatory enough. In either case, if you never make a small mistake ever, you have nothing to fear.