Yesterday, I learned the answer to the question, “How do you get Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, to block you on Twitter?”
It wasn’t an answer I was actively seeking but resulted from Scott Adams explaining the proper use of “pour” and “pore” when discussing documents. (This was in reaction to the President’s recent Tweet). I simply made the observation that Scott Adams had not been relevant since the 1990s. I held back from adding “especially since Office Space did it much better).
Now, I probably should have thought better of trolling Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. After all, he believes that Donald Trump was a “Wizard” of persuasion. He claimed that men were inclined to rape women, and once pretended to be his own fan in an online forum. Last week, Scott Adams told Forbes that he believed that “goals are for losers.” So I probably should have been careful to engage him in an intellectual debate, rather than trolling him – after all, civility is paramount in our national conversation. Scott Adams deserved that much.
After deleting the Tweet that started this ruckus, Scott Adams declared that I was “conflating my ignorance with his relevance” and blocked me. Almost on cue, a wide variety of individuals defended Scott Adams’ honor by impugning my character. Of course, many of these individuals would be likely to complain about the lack of “civility” in social media. Their comments included
• Being called “made of soy” by a woman;
• Having “more neck than chin”
• Several slams about me not being “relevant”;
• Criticism of my writing style thanks to a Google search; and
• Being “butthurt” over getting “rekt by the Dilbert guy”
(I’ve chosen, after some consultation, to redact their names and Twitter accounts, but not their photos. Several of them have either generic Twitter icons or misleading photos. Plus, they don't deserve total anonymity - I stand behind my Twitter avatar; they can stand or fall behind theirs. )
Now, it would have been easy for me to defend myself, to discuss caring for my mother or even delivering a torrent of counter-insults...but it wouldn’t be civil. So I blocked them.
Civility in any conversation – whether personal or through social media – means that there is a certain level of accountability. Accountability suggests an understanding of the “rules” of conduct, and many on the right believe that they are beyond those rules. Confronted by an angry majority about the decline in our society, it is much easier for that vocal minority to assault or harass their opposition. They hide behind the First Amendment not realizing that freedom of speech does not mean freedom from controversy or freedom of consequence. I took my hit for stating what I believe; they deserve the same respect (or in this case, "contempt").
(And this has happened before – after writing a post criticizing a PR firm’s selling Twitter followers as a “false tactic”, they created a series of Twitter bots and flooded my stream with Tweets. In addition, actress Kelly Marie Tran and Christopher McQuarrie have been driven off of social media due to organized harassment. Because many Star Wars and Scott Adams fans are touchy when it comes to what they enjoy. And they'll do anything they can to push you off of "their" channel.)
Unfortunately, Scott Adams of Dilbert is engaging in behavior reminiscent of Roseanne Barr a few weeks ago: make an outrageous statement, refuse to take responsibility, and double down. Although I could have been a bit more clever, I won’t apologize for my behavior. Twitter is a public forum. Scott Adams behaved inappropriately towards a user. His tasteful follow-up to blocking me: posting a cartoon and suggesting that I was claiming to have “owned him”
(Considering our country’s history as well as an alleged incident involving a student and a gay teacher at my old high school, I don’t think that I have any right to use the word “own” in that context. Plus, like Scott Adams, I am a white male. I know better. I would never stoop to suggesting that this blog post is Tweeted directly to him with the hashtag #betterbutthurtthanbrownshirt...but then again, what do I know? I didn’t create Dilbert).
But the story ends with two Facebook conversations – not this blog’s Facebook page, mind you, conversations with friends. Conversations which provided a sorely needed sense of perspective and humor.
One was a long-time colleague who asked, “LOL, who is Scott Adams?” After gently “mansplaining” Scott Adams’ career as the creator of Dilbert, her response was, “I stopped reading Dilbert years ago – is he still around?”
But the second conversation was with a friend who, without prompting, answered the question I posed at the beginning of this post.
“How do you get Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, to block you on Twitter? Be a decent human.”
(Please feel free to comment below or via Facebook, and note that comments are moderated)