I decided some time ago that Preston Towers must die. But how to do it was the question. Why must he die? There’s a number of reasons why he needs to go, but I have been too gutless and weak to do it.
- The Era of the Pseudonym is dying. When I started Preston Towers, it was a time when there were a fair few people using pseudonyms on which to comment on politics. The most famous in Australian political twitter was Grogs Gamut, who was working in the Australian Public Service and couldn’t tweet and write about ideas under a real name. Being a teacher, there’s always similar limits (though not as draconian) to social media output under one’s own name. Having the pseudonym gave me a freedom that made fellow teachers fairly jealous. Over time, however, the pseudonyms have disappeared. Grogs Gamut was famously doxxed due to his influence, but he managed to make his hobby into a full time paid living. I was never skilled enough or interested in doing anything like that. (This is not false modesty, I really could never do the things Greg Jericho and other people in professional media do). Most of those other pseudonyms have disappeared over time
- Threats of Doxxing. One of the threats with using a pseudonym is that people who disagree with you can threaten to doxx you, in order to silence your voice. Van Badham and her partner, Ben Davison, tried this tactic some years ago, using my real first name in order to issue a barely veiled threat of doxxing me. There have been some other attempts over the years – always from so called “progressive” twitter. I suspect after a while that Van and Ben had realised that I posed little threat to them, so they stopped. I pose little threat to anyone, which is why no-one has never been persistent or serious about their threats to doxx me. That mildly surprised me during the 2013 election campaign, where I pissed off a lot of people with my takes about western Sydney and about the Labor Megaphones in the AusVotes / AusOpinion blog. But here I still am, 9 years later.
- Screenshots! My latest project has been to expose the misinformation and lies of various people with large followings with screenshots of their publicly available tweets, whether it be on PT or on the Mill of Content. Misinformation and lies really annoy me, especially when people with good intentions are influenced by people who are acting out of bad faith and mendaciousness. And that activity to be the one thing that is driving the latest threat to doxx me. There is a person (I am not naming the person, but there’s a fair few who would know who it is) has been telling her followers that I have been “stalking her” for 8 years and that she is going to ring the police, ring my place of work, and doxx me. It’s just not true that I have been “stalking her”. (I’m pretty sure we followed each other on twitter not all that long ago, for a start.) Stalking is a serious criminal offence, and I have no interest in going anywhere near that person. For a start, I have read what can happen to multiple tricycles that are near her. But more seriously, I have had, for a bit over a year now, an alt account that has been following accounts of various political influence and interests. The account follows people like Rita Panahi, Caleb Bond, and PR Guy and the like – people I wouldn’t want to follow on my usual accounts, but acts as a way to find out what’s happening in Big Opinion Land. And even though I have never followed her on that account, her tweets appear all the time, liked and retweeted by all sorts of people.
- It’s absolutely my own fault. Because twitter causes people to repeat dumb mistakes, I kept screenshotting and publishing her ridiculous statements and pronouncements, even though she kept repeating her lies about me “stalking her”. I just find it fascinating and a little bit galling how someone can spread misinformation at the rate she does, and have so many fawning followers. I didn’t think she was serious, though, until she found my real name professional account and possibly searched my LinkedIn one day. I realised that someone who would be serious about attacking me could do that. Plenty of people know who I am, and it wouldn’t be hard for those who loathe Preston Towers to tell someone who wanted to silence me. It’s really not that hard to do. And because that user has been laughed at and belittled by so many in the last two months, it appears that she decided that attacking me will make up for the comprehensive humiliation that she has suffered. And she can continue to defame me without correction because I can’t stop her, who am I? Just someone with a pseudonym. Mud sticks, especially amongst those who are as allergic to the truth as people who would continue to follow people like that, despite all they have done. It’s all so very twitter. But it’s not the real reason why I am Killing Preston.
- The mistakes live on. I have made a lot of other dumb mistakes on twitter. Lots of attacks, arguments, comments, garbage acts, mistakes of comprehension. All sorts of dumb shit. And the stain left behind by those mistakes don’t always fade away. I regret what I have said to a whole bunch of people that I respect and admire for what they say and do. I was going to name people I have wronged, but me naming people has caused problems in the past, and that’s not my intent or purpose here. My various mental health issues have all been there to see, combining with arrogance and stubbornness to leave damage to how people see me. And fair enough too. I have been an absolute fuckwit at times. I would love to have the opportunity to apologise to all sorts of people, either in real life or online, but I burnt those chances some time ago. That makes me sad, because I know that in real life, I’m a fairly laid back and affable person, and I cringe when I look back at those actions, which I would never have done in person.
- What else do I have to say? Aside from the mistakes, I have also realised that I probably don’t have a lot left to say with the Preston Towers account. There’s a number of middle aged, middle class white men with opinions out there. While I despise most middle aged, middle class white people (I hate golf, fishing, boats, horse racing, BBQ posing, and I love women’s sport), I know that I am forever grouped with that lot, and so my voice doesn’t carry much weight on twitter. And that’s a good thing – twitter should be a forum for the marginalised, those who haven’t got a voice on more commercialised and mainstream media sources. I am over-represented on all sorts of media. I also look at my commentary on politics and have realised for some time that I am repeating myself, and not bringing much in the way of new insights into anything very much. Compiling the Mill of Content has reinforced that fact.
- Western Sydney No More. When I started the account named for an apartment building in Penrith, I was different to the other Middle Class Middle Aged White Men in one key way. I was providing an insight into life and issues in Western Sydney that wasn’t around all that much in media sources. And frankly, still aren’t. But that’s a fault with the traditional and new media that will never ben fixed. The jobs and HQs are all in the inner city, the media professionals mostly come from a small pool, and even they do come from “outside”, they are quickly initiated into the cliques that reinforce the norms. It’s a self perpetuating cycle. But there’s little point in continuing to bash my metaphorical head against that wall of indifference. Besides, Western Sydney can be discussed by others on social media, especially since I haven’t lived there for more than 2 years. I will continue to comment on where I live now, but I can do that on another account in a less pushy way.
- Life! I love my life away from Twitter – personal and professional. Twitter has helped with the former and latter. I have met many great friends through twitter, and I will continue to talk to them on my real name accounts. Using the account has made me very adept at understanding contemporary society and language, meaning that I get what teenagers are seeing, saying, hearing and experiencing. It has made my more relatable and a better teacher. An example came this week in the VCE English Language course that I have started teaching. I ask the question – “remember blogs?”. I got a number of chuckles, especially from those who are adept and experienced users of social media. There’s even a student in that class who knows how to use Twitter – a rare person indeed in an era where Twitter is not all that popular with teens. This particular student has more followers than Preston Towers, so he knows what it’s like to have such an account. He knows that with more followers comes more fights, more annoyances. And that’s great for him. I have had enough of it all.
- The Mill of Content is Fun! More people like the Mill of Content than Preston Towers, that has become clear – and that’s good! Since I switched it to be an archive / media aggregator, I have realised that it provides a useful service, which is what I like to do in general. I like being helpful. I enjoy it a lot more than tweeting with constant looking over my shoulder and having to lock the account. Plus, who wants to hear my opinion any more? I don’t want to most times. With the Mill, I get the chance to produce a primary source hub. And if anyone tries to doxx that, what can they say about the account? It tweets publicly available tweets. One day, I will attach my real name to the Mill, because I still have the dream of making it a useful resource for students studying VCE English Language. And that would make me very happy. It would mean that my knowledge, insights, and memories accumulated as Preston Towers wouldn’t be for nought. However, it’s Time to Die, Preston Towers.