You have opinions. And you want to share your opinions beyond your email contacts and Facebook friends. After all, we have the World Wide Web and you’re thinking of sharing your ideas with the whole twitterverse. But your ideas are subversive. You hate Big Brother and you refuse to join the repetitions of: “Every one works for every one else. We can’t do without any one.”
Leo Strauss wrote a book called Persecution and the Art of Writing in which he describes how persecution gives rise to a peculiar technique of writing. Online writing is no exception to persecution. Here are 7 tips based on Strauss’s insights that have been reinvented for modern relevance.
1. Socratic Irony:
Twitter is a great forum to practice Socratic irony. With its multidirectional nature and a design intended to promote conversation, try questioning and you’ll be sure attract new followers. By being curious, you’ll motivate tweeters to reply to you. It’s human nature to try to respond to questions to which we think we know the answers. And insofar as Socratic irony is about feigning ignorance in order to teach, Twitter makes this easy: you don’t even have to go through much work in order to feign the ignorance. Further, Twitter is really democratic because people are skeptical that even those with lots of TweetCred should be a ruling class of social media kings.
2. Writing between the characters:
Strauss says that persecution compels writers to “write between the lines.” This technique involves disguising the core of the argument between meaningless nonsense. Presenting the truth about the crucial things between the lines might sound like quite a challenge within the bounds of the 140 character limit. But consider how you can tweet discreetly. Insert peculiar hashtags between other commentary and links and you might just find that it is “apt to arrest the attention of young [persons] who love to think [...] when your reasonable young reader would for the first time catch a glimpse of the forbidden fruit.”
3. Hash it out: using obscure hashtags:
The way we use Twitter makes us look like we all have a prodigious mastery of esoteric communication. Whether it’s called a hashtag, number sign, or pound symbol, these words are almost exclusively used now to refer to metadata tags online. It turns out that there are even dictionaries of trending hashtags. Looking for Conservative tweets in Canada? The code is “#roft” which stands for “Right of Twitter.” Then, there’s “#tcot” if you’re looking for “top conservatives on Twitter.”
4. Conformity with religious public opinion:
Strauss discusses “conformity with the opinions of the religious community in which one is brought up [as] a necessary qualification for the future philosopher.” Should you both love the truth and desire not to be killed, consider gradually challenging accepted opinions by pointing to the truth in such a way that does “not too flagrantly contradict the accepted opinions.” Engage in some digital activism by subtly blending in with the left-liberal bias. For example, you can use the hashtags of opponents like these pro-life advocates who took over the pro-abortion hashtag “#TXWomensHealth.”
5. Attack that which you secretly extol:
Nothing is more perplexing to tweeters than when someone demonstrates critical thinking instead of continuing a constant stream that looks like banal, on-message government propaganda. By tweeting critically about public figures and current affairs you will attract new followers whose interest will be piqued because of the unpredictability of your tweets. Consider St. Paul’s advice on evangelization: “For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law… so that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law… so that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.”
6. Blessed are the persecuted:
As Strauss says: persecution cannot prevent independent thinking. Even being sent to so-called “Twitter gulag,” and having an account suspended by some concerted effort by your opposition, will not ultimately censor you. In some cases, the unjust suspension of an account serves to multiply the momentum for your posts and for your account. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of Twitter; their descendents of digital disciples will be numerous.
7. Thoughtless and careless readers won’t get it:
“The fact which makes this literature [esoteric writing] possible,” explains Strauss, “can be expressed in the axiom that thoughtless men are careless readers, and only thoughtful men are careful readers.” If the idea of philosophizing on Twitter sounds utterly ridiculous, then so be it. You are free at any time to leave this shadowy realm and ascend from the virtual world to real life.
For more subversive ideas, politically incorrect opinions, and secret knowledge follow: @AmandaAchtman