Maybe it's happened to you: you're talking about a film or an album or a TV show or a comic on Twitter. You're maybe not a fan. You perhaps critiicize the thing. And then, out of the blue, someone joins the Twitter conversation and tags the creator of the work you're slagging.
What, one wonders, the fuck?
It's a strange phenomenon I have experienced again and again on Twitter - people tagging in celebrities or artists into conversations where they have been assidously not tagged. Brian Collins has noted that the chance of this happening when you discuss Kevin Smith approaches 100% - I'm not sure I have ever mentioned Smith on Twitter without someone tagging him into the discussion - but his fans aren't the only ones who do it. It happens all the time.
What is the reasoning for this? On some level it's got to be a misunderstanding of what Twitter is, like they think it's a big party and we're all off in the corner whispering in hushed tones about someone else at the gathering. Like we're talking behind a friends' back. But that isn't what Twitter is. We're not all in a room when it comes to Twitter, and we're not ethically responsible to say whatever we're saying to someone's face. In fact, we're ethically responsible to NOT do that.
I speak from experience. This is going to be hard for you to believe, but some people out there don't like me. They really don't like me. And they sometimes talk shit about me on Twitter. Hey, it happens. As a narcissist I sometimes search my own name just to see what's happening out there, and I almost always immediately regret it... but I'm facing that stuff on my own terms on my own schedule. Every now and again, though, some guy is shit talking me on Twitter and someone else decides to tag me into it. This doesn't ruin my mood or my day, but it's a momentary bummer. I know people don't like me. I don't need to be reminded all the time.
Possibly the tagger thinks they're being heroic - 'Hey, look at this asshole! Take him down!' - but they're really just being a snitch. Let's put it this way - if you had Kevin Smith's phone number, would you text him every time you heard someone running down him or his work? Of course not - that would be actually insane. You'd understand that Smith wouldn't appreciate it, and that the people around you would stop saying anything in your presence because you run to tattle all the time. So why do it on Twitter?
When I talk about a film or a celebrity on Twitter I understand there is a chance the tweet will be seen by the subject or someone involved in its creation. I understand that, and I'm not hiding what I say. Hell, I say this stuff for a living. But I also understand the subject doesn't need to have these criticisms in their face every time they're made. It's simply rude.
So the next time someone is shit-talking your favorite filmmaker or actor take a moment before you tag that person in your reply. What are you hoping to accomplish? Do you think you're making that person's day any better? Do you think you might be a snivelling rat bastard? The answer to that last one is yes, by the way.