My Apologies to Kellyanne Conway

Thursday night I tuned in to the Rachel Maddow show (as is my custom) and prepared to live tweet the show on the #Maddow hashtag. Kellyanne Conaway was her guest that night, and I wasn’t sure I was willing to subject myself to her legendary smile-and-spin. But I’m a loyal viewer, and Rachel Maddow is really good at interviewing people, and it’s rare that a Republican even goes on her show.

During the course of the show I voiced my disapproval for Kellyanne. I don’t like her very much. Aside from disagreeing with her politically, I think she’s disingenuous. When she said that she wasn’t aware of General Flynn’s conspiracy theory-laden tweet about the Clintons I was aghast. Either she has no idea what’s going on in Trump’s domain with all his loose-cannon appointees (which is outrageous for a person in her position), or she was lying about not having seen it.

I tweeted her a screenshot of the tweet:

 

As you can see, this tweet was re-tweeted 700+ times, and garnered more than 100 replies. The next morning as I scrolled through the responses, I started feeling sick to my stomach. A lot of the replies were ok. They stated the same thing I did above – she’s either lying or clueless about not knowing what Flynn is like.

But some of the replies were awful. They called her names. They were abusive. They made gross generalizations about Republicans that are untrue. (I have members of my own family, as well as very good friends that I love and respect who are Republican). I felt anxiety just reading the comments others were making to her.

And for that, Kellyanne Conway, I am sorry. That you may have logged in to your Twitter account and had to read some of those awful things because of my tweet makes me very sad. No one should have to put up with that kind of abuse. Ever.

I’m on Twitter to share my views, express my opinions and learn about other people. I think mob rule on social media is a disease that is plaguing our society and it comes from the right AND the left. I have seen my own friends harassed and threatened by alt-right trolls and I would rather quit social media all together than take part in that same kind of behavior against anyone – no matter how much I disagree with them.

Let me be clear: I fucking HATE the culture of online abuse and gang mentality. Those who engage in it like to think they are ‘doing battle’ against their political opponents, but it only reflects badly on them.  Those who single out individuals, call people names, and share disgusting images that are meant to denigrate are hindering their own cause. I don’t want to be associated with them. I will block anyone who engages in that behavior regardless of whether I agree with your politics or not.

This isn’t about ‘freedom of speech.’ Lord knows I love a good profanity-fueled rant. I love sarcasm and having the opportunity to voice my criticisms about behaviors and ideas that I disagree with.  There’s a difference between being snarky and being abusive. There’s a difference between voicing frustration and  spewing hate. There’s a difference between disagreeing and hurling insults. If you don’t know the difference, I don’t want to know you. Online or off.

I don’t have a huge amount of influence online, but I will be goddamned if whatever influence I do have gets co-opted by people who can’t show the most basic respect for other people in the course of disagreement.