Except that it’s not. It’s people’s livelihood and/or passionate pastime, and there are so many bounders, demagogues and scandalmongers (see ‘Libertarians’) on ‘beer Twitter’ that it’s no surprise passions can become inflamed.
To an extent, online exchanges that become as corrosive as a downpour in downtown Pripyat can be explained by using a road rage analogy – it’s easier to be disparaging when you’re on your own and can’t see the object of your opprobrium’s face. The online persona is just that – we are reduced to a kernel of ourselves, and online quarrels dehumanise us further.
I’ve started to ponder my own social media activity recently. I assume my tweets suggest someone who is politically partisan (Marxist), immature, and obsessed with beer. While I know that Nazis, racists and bullies skulking on social media will always need punching, virtually or otherwise, we would all benefit from walking away when debates with friends or contemporaries turn sour.
For me, it’s not a case of whether I use social media, but how I use it. Nowadays I feel more inclined to head to my favourite pub with my favourite people (even without my phone sometimes) rather than engage with people online. I’ve even wondered whether a phone-free, social media-free bottle share would be a worthwhile endeavour – one where you leave the phone at home, or hand it in at the venue for safe keeping, and just spend an hour or two drinking beer and conversing. A social media-free bottle share. Who’s in?