Le Twitter des cons
I’ve given up Facebook long ago; now I have the proof that Twitter isn’t any better anymore. A little social experiment proved to be “the last straw” (so to speak).
Even as I have little motivation to keep blogging, I wanted to write this post for the very few readers I still have; of course, it helps not to be a Frenchman (Frenchperson? Frenchsomething? what’s the inclusive noun for Froggy?), but it’s not critical to the understanding of the issue at hand.
It’s old news that Facebook is increasingly stupid, especially since its algorithm was made to emphasize whatever is Liked by the largest number of morons, regardless of when it was posted, and regardless of whether I opted to be shown the posts in reverse chronological order (the way one would see the blog posts in an RSS reader). This silences or hides the posts that are not “popular” (duh) and hugely expands the reach of the nonsense. I stopped posting on FB when I noticed that my posts were shown to some of the people who followed me something like 7 to 10 days after I posted them. Were I a news channel, I’d have been dead, right?
Twitter joined the Idiocracy Land more recently. First, it changed the Favorite button (which was meant to bookmark a tweet) to Like and, just like Facebook, now a “liked” tweet will be boosted and will show up in other people’s “Home” even if they don’t follow the poster and the person who “liked” it didn’t retweet it. At some point, Twitter used to have something like “if you missed it” and “someone who didn’t post in a while just tweeted this,” which was helpful, but now one can’t see what the followed accounts tweeted or retweeted because of the countless “someone liked this” and “someone you follow liked this account, which posted this” (despite the respective tweet not being specifically “liked”!), not to mention the tweets like “we thought you might be interested in this” (“we” the Artificial Intelligence?). To add insult to injury, the added #hashtags (à la Instagram) led to two major outcomes: most views are now based on #hashtags, not on following people; and the “trending for you” section that Twitter added in order to further moronize its audience.
But this didn’t make me stop using Twitter. I noticed I struggled to see what the people I followed had to say–but their tweets were buried in loads of crap–and I also noticed the people who followed me either weren’t interested in my opinions any more, or they also were not seeing everything I wrote (most likely both); and yet, I was clinging to Twitter… out of nostalgia. Not anymore.
Here’s what I posted the other day with regards to a video tweet by Anaëlle Godefroy, assistante d’antenne sur RTL2, soi-disant “jeune talent” qui doit absolument lire son mini-sketch depuis une feuille de papier, sinon…
Follow-up in English:
Yes, I agree that petite pétasse is not something you say about someone who is not Anne Hidalgo (qui est une grosse pétasse), and especially not outside Fluide Glacial, Charlie Hebdo or… the social networks. But here’s what I got in the next 24 hours:
- A few people replying that she said “Do you not tribord?”, which she can’t possibly have said. Some even added that it’s a clin d’œil or an allusion to a music group (I very much doubt it’s this one).
- A few people replying that she said “Do you not ribord?”, which she probably said, except that ribord (1, 2, pic) is not something one would usually say. And it doesn’t make much sense anyway.
- Someone replying that she said “Do you not starboard?”, which, if true, is so pathetically pronounced that I prefer not to comment.
- Someone saying he went to my blog, and my English grammar sucks. (No, he wasn’t a prof d’anglais.)
- Someone else giving me a pointer to something that, he claimed, would help me understand why the French can’t have a different accent and intonation in a foreign language (I lost the link, and with thousands of notifications, I cannot find it again.)
- Someone noticing a recent tweet of mine that expressed a slightly islamophobic view. (Note: φοβία means fear, not hatred.) See the UPDATE at the end!
- Some people saying that I’m definitely worse at French than she’s at English.
- Some people being confident that French is considered a sexy language overseas, so there’s no need to use a better pronunciation anyway.
- Very few people objecting to the unnecessary use of the word pétasse.
- Dozens of people saying that it was “French humor” that I definitely can’t understand, a self-derogatory take on the French pronunciation of English; something to be taken au second degré, not at face value. It’s not the case–this is exactly how most French speak English.
- Dozens of people saying that I am so stupid not to realize that everyone speaking any other language than their mother tongue would have an accent, and no, the French can’t be the worse in speaking English, because there isn’t a unique pronunciation of English, and the Aussies, the Scots, the Welsh and the Indians are even harder to understand.
- Hundreds of people insulting me in ways I rarely if ever encountered in 11 years of Twitter; some of them having very serious accounts and usually very decent tweets, some others having stupid accounts that are pure garbage. It’s the decent ones who puzzle me. Jurons en français, but also in English, and not only around “fuck” or the references to maternity. French ingeniosity, les FDP…
- Thousands of people “Liking” the offensive answers to my tweet(s); much, much fewer likes (if any at all) to the decent replies.
- A few people saying that they reported my tweet to Twitter’s censors, so that be a lesson to me (nothing happened so far).
- A unique reaction from Ana Godefroy: “mon accent et moi on te soulève tes grands morts Béranger” https://twitter.com/anagodefroy/status/1305529908379226112
Je trouve “on te soulève tes grands morts” assez élégant, mieux que “nique ta grand-mère”, “mange tes morts”, “va te faire foutre”. But let’s not talk of her now.
The fact that there are countless pronunciations of English cannot be contested. This being said, when a French speaks any other language, the Frenchness is unmistakable. When an Italian speaks any other language, you can tell he’s Italian a mile off. Same for a Russian, and so on–some cultures just soak their nationals in something they can’t get rid of no matter how hard they try.
But are they really trying? Listen to a public radio or TV station–say, a news broadcast–and you’ll notice that:
- In Scandinavian countries, they try and manage to pronounce correctly 99% of the foreign names.
- In Germany, they try and manage to pronounce correctly 98% of the foreign names.
- In Italy and Romania, they try and manage to pronounce correctly at least 70% of the foreign names.
- In France and French-speaking Belgium, they try and manage to pronounce correctly ZERO foreign names.
That’s right: they don’t even try in France! It’s therefore a matter of attitude more than the lack of an ability.
Anecdotal evidence: someone tried to buy un paquet de Lucky Strike in Paris. If you’re not a French, can you imagine what was the required pronunciation so that a French buraliste could understand the name?
To tone down the issue, here’s one name NOBODY but a Dutch could correctly pronounce: Van Gogh (note on correct capitalization: Vincent van Gogh, but Van Gogh when used without the pronoun). The suggested BBC pronunciation is wrong.
There might be another factor to be taken into account. If you are not from one of the countries in the following list, you have a severe culturally-induced mental handicap: Albania, Armenia, China, the countries of the former Yugoslavia, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Indonesia, Israel, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, South Korea, Sweden. In the aforementioned countries, TV and cinema movies are almost never doubled, subtitles being used instead. In France, as you know, almost all the films are VF, not VO STFR. This way, the French are not properly exposed to the sound of a foreign language (the music is not the same thing as a spoken language). Heck, they don’t even know the voice of the greatest American or British actors, but only the voices of some obscure voice-doubling actors! (If you’re a French, try to imagine Louis de Funès with a German voice. This is how the Teutons know him!)
On the other hand, if one could easily identify a German who speaks English, Germanic languages (German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian) have the advantages that they already have the basis for a decent British English pronunciation; think of the Hochdeutsch way of pronouncing the “t” in “Tee” or in “Land” (yup), or the final “r” in “klar” or “leider”; furthermore, a French would find extremely difficult to properly pronounce the “ch” in “München” or “Mädchen” (the “ich” way, not the “ch’ti” way)…
But pronunciation isn’t everything. It’s a mix of accent and intonation that illustrates how the French don’t even try. Here’s a guy who reads a lot in English (whatever hasn’t been translated in French and belongs or is related to the Golden Age of Detective Fiction): Droit de réponse; watch the video and try to spot the way he pronounces the English names. OK, here we go:
- Emily Brent, Crime Club, Golden Age, Detection Club, John Dickson Carr are pronounced correctly enough and, surprisingly, with a good accent; however, the last name being in each case short, it’s difficult to misplace the accent.
- Agatha Christie, William Collins, Dorothy Sayers, G.K. Chesterton are pronounced (especially Chesterton) and accented à la française (sigh).
- Borges is pronounced as if it were a French name spelled Borgès or rather Borgesse (at least he didn’t try to [mis]pronounce Jorge).
The last one actually got me crazy. Even the most educated French couldn’t care less. They probably smirk when someone massacres their language, yet they make ZERO efforts to respect other languages and cultures. (Side notes: French is the only language on Earth where the Italian espresso becomes expresso; and the fact that the pronunciation of Don Quichotte in French or Don Chisciotte in Italian matches the original pronunciation of the “x” in Don Quixote rather than the modern Spanish pronunciation of Don Quijote is only fortuitous.)
I’m not saying it’s easy to pronounce English like a native person, or in Received Pronunciation (sometimes dubbed “BBC English”), but very decent non-native pronunciations include the “ABBA English” and the “BZN English” (sorry if you’re not old enough to know what I mean). But definitely this is not the way to go. And yes, I know, French isn’t easy for a non-native either (and I don’t even want to mention the Québec and whatever they’re speaking!).
Back to our sheep, which is the Twitter mob. There is no way to properly interact with anyone on Twitter. Decent questions often get no answer. Stupid or frivolous tweets get noticed, but not those of more substance. In 11 years of Twitter, I only blocked those who patently insulted me (except that with this episode I couldn’t click so much, so for most of them I let them be), yet I was blocked by people who I admire, I respect, and I recommend to others, people I never said anything even remotely offensive about! Many years ago, Tim Harford blocked me for no identifiable reason. Recently, André Bercoff did the same, I’m not sure he himself knows why (it’s not impossible that I replied to someone who replied to him, and he didn’t understand who was the recipient of the reply, as Twitter includes everybody in a reply). Twitter is no more a place to be, a place to get information from, a place to express opinions, and to exchange ideas. It’s a fucking bastard of Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Idiocracy, despite being older than most of them!
It’s also a place for the new cancel culture, as the example of J. K. Rowling demonstrates. And it’s not only her to be a victim! Watch this:
This is Twitter nowadays:
Why would anyone keep expressing their opinions in the cesspool that’s today’s Internet, with its excremental (and genocidal) social networks? To be treated as a mix of Éric Zemmour, the Le Pen family, and Hitler just for a couple of words? And this, not counting the official censorship that occasionally occurs on the said social networks…
It’s difficult to have the required amount of schizophrenia that makes possible a proper cultural context switching that enables one to fully enjoy a culture that is not their native one, e.g. in my case to enjoy the FR/BE, UK, US, IT cultural and societal productions (BD, literature, music, films, TV shows, radio) as much as possible in the original language, when the world is mostly populated by the most cretinoid creatures that are considerably dumber than their ancestors.
UPDATE: It was bound to happen. Je suis Éric Zemmour! If you’re in France, you’ll see this:
instead of this:
The fact that the content is only blocked in France shows it doesn’t violate Twitter’s policies; but as in France almost anything can be qualified as “hate speech”, here’s Twitter blocking a tweet only in the country where it might be considered “incitation à la haine raciale”! (As if Islam were a race, not a religion.)
Twitter routinely does that with complaints coming from France and Germany. I don’t know if for France they accept a complaint as legitimate regardless of who’s making it, or whether someone persuaded LICRA to file a complaint, but I know that with complaints coming from Germany, if they come from the police or from the prosecutor’s office, it’s enough to engage a geographically limited censorship. A court order is not required. (I’m not sure with regards to the UK: is a court order needed, or a complaint from the police is enough?)
This is how the American (they’re all American, except for TikTok) social networks are lacking any ethics. Normally, it should have been as follows:
- Either they consider a proper request (i.e. coming from a Court of law) as a legitimate reason to consider a specific content as inappropriate, especially as this is based on the legislation of an allegedly democratic country such as France, Germany, UK, not from the likes of Iran, Turkey, etc., and they block the content worldwide…
- …or they don’t block it at all, as there is no international legal framework regarding “hate speech” and censorship, letting the respective country to deal with whatever they want to block–the way the UK deals with paedophilia, i.e. requiring the ISPs to block specific sites.
Instead, they prefer to bend selectively to requests coming from separate countries. In this globalized world, someone believes censorship still works! (The same way the EU believes in “the right to be forgotten”…)
Sometimes, social networks are greedy and only block specific contents in specific countries or territories in order to keep generating revenue in the rest of the world. It’s the case with DMCA complaints addressed to YouTube by the rightful owners: YouTube only blocks the content in the countries for which the claimant can prove they own the rights for; but if someone proves that a piece of music or a film is not in the public domain, this should be enough for YouTube to block it everywhere, unless those who posted it prove they own the distribution rights at least for one country! They don’t do that so they could keep monetize it. (There’s one more way the law is circumvented on YouTube, but I keep it for later, in case I’ll ever write a book in my broken English.)
Social networks are the supreme piece of shit.