Author’s Note: This blog post was taken down as result of a DMCA takedown request by Max Adams. It was a pretty clear misuse of the DMCA takedown mechanism. Max Adams didn’t like my calling her out for obnoxious Twitter behavior, so she alleged copyright violations to have the blog taken down — even though the blog consists only of commentary on her public Twitter comments, which is pretty well covered by fair use. You can read her letter of complaint added to the end of the blog.
I have rewritten some of the text to simplify it. I have also edited the screencaps of her photo on her Twitter comments since that was, arguably, the only possible basis for a copyright takedown.
Why even bother putting it back up? I almost didn’t. On the one hand, in the grand scheme of things, this kind of tit-for-tat internet pissing contest means nothing to anybody. Unless you’re on the receiving end of obnoxious behavior, your attitude would rightly be: move on.
On the other hand, it seems to me that this kind of thing makes up most of what passes for human interaction these days. Somebody has to draw a line somewhere. The Internet seems to have emboldened human stupidity. People have forgotten how to behave. Today the way many people operate is impenetrable and absurd.
So it is with this person “Max Adams”. The following is my 48-hour non-interaction with Max Adams over Twitter, in which I was subject to some sort of weird attempted public shaming. I feel I have a right to chronicle human stupidity when and where I see it, even on a tiny blog few will ever see, if only in protest.
What One May Expect on Twitter
Social networking and the ‘new media’ are both being widely lauded — usually by people in the new media, often on social networking sites. But the truth is obvious to people who stay away from them: sites like Facebook and Twitter are a waste of time. Worse, they are used by people to indulge their bizarre primal urges — intentionally misunderstanding one another and working themselves into hysterics so as to experience the subsequent delight of an emotional purge. There is usually no redress for misunderstandings that follow from the monkeys beating each other up with their keyboards. The injustice is so small, it would take a very tiny courthouse to right the wrong.
Nevertheless! Even though the chimps themselves may scoff and mock when someone regards their flinging dung as an outrage, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to take to the airwaves (the Intertubes) to right a wrong, even if it amounts to one man standing in a room just muttering to himself.
So that is the purpose of this post. It is a warning to anyone on the verge of believing that Twitter (in this case) is not a stupid waste of time. This article is in fact a case study. It’s a study of what a typical interaction looks like on Twitter.
The bright smiling face in the Twitter profile above belongs to a certain ‘Max Adams’. She identifies herself as a screenwriter. I don’t know Max Adams, nor have any particular interest in her. I only encountered her by her Twitter account while following the Twitter account of columnist and constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald.
Anybody following Glenn Greenwald is bound to be someone concerned about civil liberties. (Today it’s a small group.) Greenwald’s columns are, one after another, unpleasant reminders of how the United States is drifting into a police state. Greenwald isn’t usually followed by conservatives or liberals interested only in the success of their own particular political tribe.
The following Twitter exchange started with one of Greenwald’s tweets. Within forty-eight hours, it became a train wreck. The level of misunderstanding involved, and then the sort of self-entitled and obnoxious behavior by Max Adams was at first baffling, then finally just disgusting. Of course, Max Adams isn’t alone. What follows is a cautionary tale.
Here’s how it begins. ‘Max Adams’ made a comment in reply to Greenwald’s remark that US readership of the UK-based “The Guardian” was increasing (click to enlarge):
Not inarguable in itself. But since I have seen in my time a fair amount of schlock come out of The Guardian, for which Greenwald writes, I chimed in:
You can see the friendly Max Adams retweeted my tweet.
But being Twitter (and the Internet) things could only get worse from there. The next day ‘Max Adams’ tweeted:
Supposing this was a cynical bit of commentary on the way media narratives are intentionally directed, I responded with:
Hardly an offensive tweet designed to cause people to run screaming to the rooftops. Maybe you could call it black humor or a virtual *nod of the head* in agreement. Here is what followed:
This is the sort of thing that makes you wary of your fellow man, and that you find on the Internet all the time. There is no response to it. When one person seems not only to misunderstand another, but to do so aggressively, ramping up an emotional reaction to somebody who is actually in agreement: what can be done? If you’re new to the Internet, you become exasperated. You probably politely try to explain yourself since normally people don’t like to see other people upset. However, if you are not new to the Internet, and this sort of inspired stupidity tires you out instantly, you feel disgusted. You find, for example, the way something so short as a tweet combines harsh moral condemnation with petulant chirpy girlishness kind of sickening. You might also think Orwellian the way somebody’s brain works who starts by saying “I don’t want to make you feel bad”, then imputes to you the opposite view that you hold, then ends by saying: “You suck”.
You might also feel this sort of thing serves as further proof the lunatics are in charge of the asylum. You can exchange messages just twenty-four hours before on a pretty clear subject like media manipulation, then get a message like this when you thought you were discussing the same subject.
I was in no particular mood that morning to deal with it. Maybe because I hadn’t had my cup of coffee. It is very disheartening to try to have conversations with people on the Internet only to realize they may well be batshit crazy.
I have found the only way to counter the wrenching, heartsick feeling you have confronted with this sort of thing on the Internet is to slap back when they have slapped you. Otherwise you’ll go as crazy as they are, only you’ll be by yourself and not surrounded by thousands of greedy-mouthed Twitter followers.
I expected the Twitter encounter to end there. Max Adams had announced herself as belonging to a certain class of internet denizen. Usually what such people do is ban you from their royal presence, sometimes in a great dramatic display. To my surprise, that didn’t happen. Maybe it occurred to her she had misunderstood?
Later on that day there was this:
It was an observation with which I fully agree. Since I do agree, and to make nice, I responded to both Max Adams and the tweet’s original author:
There are plenty of idiots after all saying on television that you have nothing to fear from a police state unless you’re a criminal. Greenwald mocks this idea constantly, and anybody who follows Greenwald ought to be clued in this obvious joke. It is a pretty clear display of irony.
Here is the response in return, which I saw the next day:
You might say she is not quick on the uptake. Since I was in a friendly mood, I replied:
I should mention that Max Adams had also decided to follow me on Twitter (which becomes funny when as result of our 48-hour Twitter contact she labelled me a “stalker”). I had posted a number of things on my Twitter that showed I was not anti-Bill of Rights.
Here is the amazing explosion of diahrrea that followed:
First, let’s recall for a moment why we’re going through this little exchange. Today this is how a lot of people are. They are self-indulgent, feeling perhaps because there are so many people out there, an apparently endless supply, that they’re entitled somehow to treat people however they please.
If you had a certain upbringing, it’s the sort of thing you find hard to do. You learn in elementary school not simply to lash out, to hesitate because you might be wrong somehow. You second-guess yourself at least for a moment. Well, if you’re on the Internet you can kiss the expectation of that kind of basic behavior goodbye.
Moreover, if any more evidence were needed that this Max Adams is self-indulgent, there’s the fact that in the tweet where I supposedly called her a “criminal” I was actually replying to someone else, the guy who wrote the original tweet. At worst, I might have been calling them both criminals (though I wasn’t). Even then she wouldn’t have been able to take it so personally, it being a blanket charge.
And consider the incredible self-flattery of supposing someone you encounter on Twitter for 48 hours is a stalker! It’s a tight knot of stupidity that would be too hard to untie. Suffice it to say, most people on the Internet seem to be this way.
The most telling and most important comment in the above is: “You, on all levels, are a threat to me.” Here she was probably telling the truth. The most important thing I realized from this exchange is that the endless War on Terror dovetails perfectly with the way over the past thirty years or so kids have been raised in the United States as precious little snowflakes. We have all heard the stories in the news of schools not awarding awards for first, second, or third place anymore in contests. Some schools have done away with grades altogether. Children are put in front of therapists, often today given psychoactive drugs, and every effort is made to make them think they are fragile, sensitive creatures who can’t fend for themselves.
This is why perhaps in the United States of Terror today, a random person you have never met who directs tiny messages at you on Twitter can be a threat to your very being. There are whole generations in the USA of precious snowflakes who have no real depth, no real personality who sense that just about anything is a threat to their ego. Thus, a perfect stranger who has barely uttered five or six sentences online can be a threat to a Max Adams. It is because there is very little there. Maybe this is even why they go on Twitter and Facebook to begin with: to cultivate followers, to convince others how happy their lives are by putting up pictures of themselves having so much fun, eating such fantastic food, and so on. They do it to convince themselves they are real. And the more people ‘following’ them or validating their ephemeral existence, the better they feel.
You’ll note the obligatory ‘block’ at the end — announced in its own separate tweet. This is what passes for communication nowadays. And it is the depth of interaction that Twitter provides. Take some advice: spend your time more wisely. Go plant a garden! Read a book. (I wouldn’t recommend any of Max Adam’s books.)
As mentioned above, after this blog post had been up for a week or so, it was taken down by DMCA takedown request. In a DMCA takedown request, you can allege that any site is infringing your copyrighted content and it is taken down. There is no legal recourse other than to file a counter-claim. If the first party pursues the claim, it goes to court.
This is the letter that was forwarded to me after the takedown as per the usual process. It was written by Max Adams.
Copyright holder you represent (if other than yourself): Self, Max Adams Please describe the copyrighted work so that it may be easily identified: One, the blogger is using my copyrighted photograph/image; Two, the blogger is using my name, Max Adams, as the title of the site; Three, the blogger is using my posts on twitter and other websites (real and "adjusted") as his content -- all three without permission from myself. Using my name, identity, photographs, posts, real or "adjusted," and other material copyrighted to me, is a copyright infringement as well as this being an attempt to malign me using this site and linking it to a bogus review of my book on Amazon.com. The person who created this site is an internet stalker. I am Max Adams, I am a known writer, screenwriter, and teacher, with a presence on the net. This person started harassing me a month ago and is going to very big lengths to keep that harassment going after I blocked him on several websites. I would appreciate you looking into this matter and considering taking the site down. I really don't want to get into legal hassles for one freaky stalker. Please help. Thank you for any help you can provide, Max Adams
There are some humorous aspects to this note. Any time a person files a DMCA complaint, they do so under threat of perjury if they knowingly misrepresent the facts. It’s not hard to show that Max Adams probably did.
For one, Max Adams claims that I am an “internet stalker”. From the point of view of a supremely self-entitled person, the fact that after I was banned I wrote a negative review of her book, and later wrote this blog amounted to “stalking”. From my point of view, it wasn’t. I don’t know anything about Max Adams and do not care to know. I have seen enough already. However, I feel entitled in my own way to call someone out as an obnoxious person. Why should I forego that right? When every other idiot on the Internet is able to make his/her voices heard, I shouldn’t?
The rest of it is provably, demonstrably false, maybe even perjury. Max Adams says I started “harassing” her “a month ago”. But her letter is signed and dated 4/28/2013. The screengrabs from Twitter show the interaction had with her ended barely more than a week before after just forty-eight hours. So Max Adams is piling on in her statement. Max Adams also says she “blocked” me on “several websites”. I’d love to know what ones. So far as I know, there was only one website she could have “blocked” me from and that was Twitter. Even then, she couldn’t have blocked me from the Twitter website, only from posting to her own Twitter account.
Again, the arrogance is fairly breathtaking. Calling someone a “stalker”, just like calling them a burglar, a murderer, a prostitute — is criminal defamation. Max Adam declares in her written statement, signed under penalty of perjury, that I am an “internet stalker”. She follows up in short order with her basis for that assertion: “I am Max Adams, I am a known writer, screenwriter, and teacher, with a presence on the net.”
In other words: me – me – me. I’m right and he’s wrong because I am “known” with a “presence on the net”. That’s her proof.
I think the whole idea of silencing someone else’s speech with the pretty shady use of a DMCA takedown request kind of lousy. I can say that if Max Adams wrote a nasty blog about me, it would never occur to me to use a DMCA takedown request. I would write a nasty blog instead. That’s called “freedom of speech”. Today, however, that’s only for people you agree with.
I had thought even after everything not to put this blog back up. Tonight in my inbox, however, was yet another comment on my negative Amazon review for Max Adam’s book.
Perhaps never in the history of Amazon have so many railed against a negative review, when Amazon is full of negative reviews. Amazon doesn’t even require that you purchase a book before you review it, and the review sections are full of people who haven’t the faintest clue what they’re talking about.
My review is slightly different. I only got a hold of the book because of my Twitter interaction with its author. To be sure, that colored my review. I was happy to give the book one star. Of course, the idea that a single negative review could prove fatal to a book’s sales is pretty ridiculous.
The book is conversational — to a fault. The author writes evidently the way she speaks. I found that while the book contained a little useful information, it could have easily been whittled down into a detailed article, rather than a sort of sprawling book. It’s mainly a book for people who are so starry-eyed at the prospect of getting a screenplay into production (and becoming super-FAMOUS!) that they can’t realistically reason the way through the process on their own. Much of the book is devoted to lowering expectations and emphasizing things like ‘it’s a business, not a friendship’. Apparently, her readership needs to learn that about Hollywood, not having gathered it elsewhere.