Word on the Tweets

My friends are so embarrassed at me. Here it is 2018—and I have only just learned how to search Twitter for comments about Milo and me.

It has been quite the education. Twitter is a different country from Facebook, I have learned. They do things differently there.

On Facebook, or so I have experienced it, it is about making friends and creating community. I call my Facebook profile page my “salon” after the salons of the eighteenth century, where wit and scholarship were deployed to discuss the great philosophical questions of the day.*

Twitter is, well, more like the Wild Wild West, complete with gunslingers and showdowns at the OK Corral.

I can see why Milo misses it.

I have learned so many things about myself in the past few days!

For example, that I think I am Jesus. Wrong! That would be Milo. I think I am Mary, the Mother of Wisdom.

(One day I am going to have to explain the difference between Milo’s imitatio Christi and worshipping Milo as God. Milo is not the one in danger of starting a cult, just saying.)

Or that somebody out there thinks, contrary to all evidence, that I and Jordan Peterson have “a thing going on.”

(I think not, especially after I spent the past month on Twitter calling him, Ben Shapiro, and Dave Rubin out for refusing to acknowledge Milo’s role in clearing the ground where they have now comfortably taken their stand as champions for freedom of speech. Some IDW. Just saying.)

Or that I have, metaphorically speaking, rammed my head into a rock like a tunicate and consumed my own brain for standing up for Milo and against the implication that my academic field is complicit in promoting white supremacy.

(At least, I think that is why Sarah Taber clutched her pearls at the mention of my name. Maybe this was a reference to oysters and poetry?)

But of course these Tweets were only the tip of the iceberg, as it were. (Picture me sitting on an ice flow; I am a white bear, after all. Polar bears were quite the exotic animals back in the Middle Ages. Perhaps that was before people realized how cruel they can be to baby seals.)

The most, ahem, vigorous were posted back in September 2017. Here is a sample of some of the livelier contributions:

The friends who taught me how to search Twitter this past week (with much mocking and Tweet-shaming, which arguably I deserved—seriously? And I called myself social media savvy? ;)) also helped me search for evidence—any evidence—that either my blogging or Milo’s staff writer’s article about my blogpost attracted any attention from the much anticipated trolls.

These are friends who have lived on Twitter for years, since giants walked the earth (R.I.P. @Nero). They know its ways and how to track them. Following the Tweet trails into their darkest recesses. Parsing the @’s and #’s for clues.

Their report from the hunt? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. NOT ONE POST attacking the junior colleague whom so many insisted my blogging and tagging Milo threatened.



So much for the much-fabled Milo Troll Hordes. Perhaps they are as fictional as the claim that he harassed Leslie Jones.

In contrast, I have learned from searches on Google (where I am more practiced) that my colleagues have continued to talk about me this past year as a “white supremacist” and “neo-Nazi medievalist.” At least I think they mean me; it is always so hard to tell when one isn’t able to attend their lectures without being accused of harassment for sitting in the audience.

I am not quite sure what to make of what I have learned from my foray into the Twitter wilds. To say that I was unaware of the degree of vitriol my colleagues had expended on my behalf—albeit behind my back—would be disingenuous. Friends have been sending me screenshots all year. But it is quite an experience to find your name used over and over and over again as a kind of curse. I am going to need to think on this.

What’s in a name? Clearly, it depends on whom you Tweet.

*A colleague on Twitter suggested back in the autumn when my blogging about the controversy in medieval studies over “whiteness” caught the Internet’s attention that “a key difference between Rachel Fulton Brown & us is that she’ll take support from any Random Layperson”—which is true! I will take support from Random Laypersons, although I call them “friends,” and it was Facebook that enabled me to meet them. Get your t-shirts and mugs here!

See MedievalGate for my continuing adventures as a conservative in academia.

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