In her 2008 hit Funhouse, American singer P!nk complains: This used to be a funhouse/ But now it's full of evil clowns. While she was singing about a romantic relationship in decline, the song is a perfect description of my feelings towards Twitter these days.
Twitter used to be fun. Twitter used to be interesting. Twitter used to be a place that would both entertain and enlighten you. A few years ago, Twitter became a reflection of and a leader of the changing global mood when it came to sociopolitics. Many people learned new things and unlearned old ways simply from following certain threads and topics on Twitter.
But over the past few months (and maybe even before that), Twitter has become a truly bitter and joyless place. It seems there are a multitude of people on the app who have nothing better to do than jump onto other people's tweets, trying to start a fight.
And while of course there is a lot to be angry about and trolls to smack down, not everything needs to be so serious and so deep. Sometimes, a silly joke really is just a silly joke. Some "jokes" can be harmful, but many others are too silly to be taken so darn seriously.
But it seems there is always a Sanctimonious Sipho or a Self-righteous Sally whose sole existence on Twitter is to just rage at everyone. These people are sitting around on their high horses, lurking behind trees, ready to ride into someone's mentions at the first sign of offensiveness and/or problematic-ness.
And while there is a neo-Nazi and misogyny problem there on Jack's app, these people are the other Twitter trolls. They suck the fun out of every damn thing and it's often unnecessary.
These people - let's call them the Misguided Woke* Folk, not to be confused with people who actually are woke - are fairly easy to spot. They are fond of using multisyllabic words often used in political or philosophical conversations. They don't often use their own pictures as profile pics, but usually go for a pic of a revered (usually dead) African leader: Lumumba, Nkrumah, Sankara.
Maybe Fidel Castro, because he was a "revolutionary". Or it could even be an image of a pharaoh statue, because you know how some folks believe black people were kings and queens in Egypt before we started rapping about sex and cars, before this "un-African" virus called feminism came with the white man and infected all their women.
(This is a generalisation of course, but four out of five members of Misguided Woke Twitter will fit this description.)
The misguided people usually aren't looking for genuine engagement and conversation. They just want to show off how well-read they are, quote philosophers and dead politicians, and to perform intellectual acrobatics in your mentions.
They are the people who always want to perform intellectual origami, turning a plain piece of paper into a bird - even when they are way off the mark. They are probably the ones some people avoid at dinner parties and braais - not because we don't have the range to engage them, but because we simply don't want to waste our energy on them.
And don't forget about the Whataboutists - the people who can't wait to ask you why you're tweeting about a thing when something "more important" is going on.
It's become incredibly boring. Someone drag these learned trolls into a sewer already. But thank goodness Twitter did get one thing right: the block and mute functions are lifesavers.
*woke = sociopolitically aware