Ellen is Max’s mother and she wrote an absolutely great post about interactions on Twitter where the word retard comes up with regrettable frequency. It’s very carefully reasoned, but nonetheless it kicked off predictably enormous howls of righteous indignation and it’s-my-freedom-of-speech/this-is-pc-gone-mad type recriminations. And some thoughtfully argued counterpoints too, plus some illuminated new viewpoints.
Anyway, I sent it on its way via my own Twitter account. For those of you who don’t know Twitter so well, it’s like a very slimmed down Facebook. For those of us who use it, it’s more like the crack cocaine to Facebook’s chicken soup, if you will. There are over 1,700 people following me on Twitter. Sizeable, but not enormous. Interestingly, what happened is that my message about Ellen’s post, once I’d set it on its way, was retweeted – or re-sent – by over a hundred other people. So alongside my potential 1,700 followers, all the followers of another 116 people would also have potentially seen this great piece about the use of the word retard. Twitter is a very powerful medium for this kind of message spread, and that’s one reason why I like it so much.
There is a site (again, for Twitter nerds like me) which maps the use of the R word in real time, and allows you to challenge the people using it. Not sure how much I’d use it myself, but it’s interesting to see the tools that are available now to promote positivity in this way. It’s called The Social Challenge.
Go check out Ellen’s post. It’s brave and rollercoastery and worth it.