They Will Never, Ever Stop Lying About Everything, But Don't Give Them The Attention They Want
I am writing this from prison. Internet Prison, which is the worst kind
A subset of Twitter’s most prolific and confident junior detectives is convinced that I shut down my Twitter account to somehow cover my tracks and/or admit defeat over this article that I published March 10.
In my Substack post explaining my reasoning for taking a Twitter break, which went up yesterday, I wrote:
One weird aspect of leaving Twitter, at least in my experience, is that people start making up reasons why the account in question vanished (of course no one could just leave Twitter because they don’t want to be on Twitter anymore). I signaled I was going to do this five days ago, and the break is long overdue, so it’s not in response to any one thing. I’m giving myself a deadline of end of the day tomorrow (Wednesday) to shut down the account — I do want to let the alt grow a little bit more before I pull the plug.
You really can just click that link and see that the tweet in question 1) was posted March 9, a day before the article went up, and 2) included an invitation for people to archive my tweets. [Me appealing directly to Judge Internet, my hands and legs shackled, my orange jumpsuit covered in sweatstains and God-knows-what-else-stains:] Are these the acts of a guilty man???
This hasn’t stopped many of the junior detectives in question from spreading all sorts of bizarre and defamatoryrumors about my departure — so much so that, as Katie informed me via screenshot from her phone, I’m a trending topic on Twitter!
That’s me — two-thirds as important as Jared Kushner, The Man Who Permanently Fixed The Middle East. It’s never a good sign when your name shows up in that box. It’s never because everyone has decided to spontaneously sing your praises.
Look, part of my problem, and part of the reason I got addicted to Twitter, is that in situations like this the logic-nerd part of my brain always gets snared on the craziness. I could devote thousands of words to these tweets and how batshit insane they are. I could rush back onto Twitter to defend myself. If I did, I’d make points like these:
—Does it make sense to claim I’m hiding evidence (for violating HIPAA, a law I’m not subject to) by deleting my Twitter account, but leaving the article in question up, unaltered save for one sentence I tweaked slightly, in a transparent manner?
—Does it makes sense to claim I was unaware of the helicopter joke/meme when I have written about it, podcasted about it, and when very early on in the article the junior detectives are mad about, I wrote “ ‘I sexually identify as an attack helicopter,’ after all, is a well-worn internet meme, often used as an attack against transgender people”?
But see? There I go again. Even there, I spent far too much time on these ghouls than they deserve.
My counterarguments are completely beside the point. The folks tweeting these rumors aren’t doing so because they’re true — they’re doing so because the goal is to inflict as much reputational damage on me as possible, and because at a certain point this becomes a bizarre, religiously infused sort of online spectator bloodsport governed by its own incomprehensible internal logic rather than any clearly thought-through goals or norms or tactics.
Well, one part of it is comprehensible: they are wishcasting. Alejandra Caraballo is spinning what is, for her followers, a deeply satisfying yarn in which my own ignorance and carelessness led to my downfall. Her evidence my career is destroyed is I. . . logged off Twitter. That should tell you everything you need to know.
Let them have Twitter. For those who support my work and/or see a need to “defend” me on there, I do appreciate it, and of course feel free to disseminate this brief rant. But beyond that: Don’t engage with these people. Don’t argue with them. Don’t send me their screenshots. This has been going on for almost five years and it’s never going to stop, so you should adapt to that reality. If and when their lies get so extreme or so specific or so defamatory I need to respond, trust that I will. But for now, I have everything I need to podcast and write about whatever I want, on my own terms. I have a dream job. I don’t need the approval of the 0.0000001% of Twitter’s most sociopathic obsessives, and I have nothing to gain from climbing back down into the pit with them for for Round 234248243.
I have work to do.
I am not threatening anyone with legal action. I am using accurate language to describe what I am seeing online.
I know it's an old and corny saying, but it applies here:
Don't wrestle with pigs. You just get muddy and the pigs like it.
Jesse, I hope you realize that there are thousands of us out here who subscribe to your Newsletter because we are discerning intelligent consumers of news who appreciate your highly ethical and insightful journalism. I'm a tenured professor in the social sciences. I was trained to evaluate empirical evidence and arguments and trust your work more than the vast majority of so-called journalists employed by the legacy media. Please stay off Twitter. You don't need the validation of a bunch of stupid, shallow-minded people to have a wildly successful career. You probably make more subscription revenue from your Substack and the BARPOD than most Times staffers could ever hope to earn because people like me value your reporting and insights enough to pay for them.
If you need to engage online, why not participate more in these forums with your community? We can provide you with more useful feedback and better word of mouth to boost engagement than a bunch of liars on Twitter. Delete the account and never look back. You don't need Twitter because you have a bigger and better platform already. Most people on Twitter could never attract one paid subscriber let alone thousands, that's why they post mindlessly for free all day. Your ideas are more valuable than theirs. Act like it!