Podcast: Do We Stand to Gain Anything from Clapback Culture?
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F1: You're listening to the Uptown Bourgeois podcast. I'm your host, Jefferey Spivey. Let's be weird, snobby, and intellectual together.
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M1: This week…
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F4: I want to talk about clapbacks.
A woman by the name of Kathy Rae emailed me. I’m gonna put that email on the screen and then I'll comment after it. But I think it's fair for people to see what she wrote and get my response. I'll leave it at that. You need to be fired for the race-baiting comment you made tonight. It's OK for blacks to discuss certain subjects but not whites. And then it goes on. Let's pull up the rest of it. OK so really you're what I call a—now she tried to write the N-word but she spelled it, I wish we would just put it on the screen. It's after 9 o'clock and people have the right to see it. She wrote N-I-G-E-R. Not a black person. You are a racist N-I-G-E-R. You are what's wrong with the world.
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F2: And so I would say to Kathy a couple of things. Number one you mischaracterized what I said. I didn't say that white people couldn't talk about race. Quite the contrary. We think that race is an authentic discussion to have. It's one we're having tonight because it’s one many of you are talking about at home and it's one that has clearly entered the Atlanta mayor's race. And that's why, behind the scenes, my colleagues and I, white and black, we decided, “hey let's go for it”. Right? Because we do try to keep it real here and I think we do a very good job of it. So I think when arguing with somebody you have to be careful not to mischaracterize their viewpoint. So I won't mischaracterize your view either, Kathy Rae. I get it. On December 5th, 2017 you think it's OK to call this journalist a nigger. I don't. But I could clap back and say a few things to you. But instead, I'll let your words, Kathy Rae, speak for themselves.
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F3: And that'll be the last word.
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M1: That was Sharon Reed, an Atlanta news anchor whom a viewer called a nigger in an e-mail. She responded with class and poise and just a little bit of gangster on live television. If you're going to clap back, this is how you do it. Not in the DM's, not in the mentions, not in the subliminal shots on your Instagram profile. You do it in a way that allows you to retain self-respect and in a forum where the other person's opinion is irrelevant. But all too often this isn't how arguments go down, right? There's a lot of nasty back and forth, a lot of vitriol, and a winner has to be declared. Just like in a wrestling match. We've created a culture that celebrates, even cherishes clapbacks.
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M2: We still have more than 150 weeks to go under Trump, so let's look back at the best and most savage celebrity clapbacks of his first 52 weeks in office. First up is LeBron James with one of the best and most iconic clapbacks. Donald Trump, in a tweet directed towards his NBA finals nemesis Steph Curry, Trump rescinded his White House invitation to the NBA champion who straight up said he wasn't going in the first place. “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating and therefore invitation is withdrawn!” In response to Trump's tweets, LeBron came to the defense of Stephen Curry. “You bum. Stephen Curry already said he ain’t going! So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to the White House was a great honor until you showed up.
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M1: Clapbacks can be satisfying. I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a little enjoyment out of a good verbal smackdown. Shoutout to Kim Kardashian and Bette Midler for some of the most savage clapbacks I've seen. But as fun as they can be, I don't like what clapback culture promotes. Instead of a dialogue, instead of an information exchange, social media becomes a playground pissing contest. Who can say the meanest thing? Who can get the most boisterous response from their opponent or from their observers? Clapbacks are face-offs. And we're all the kids standing on the side cheering them on. My approach: delete, mute, block. You might see this as avoidance. I'm just protecting my time. I'm an entrepreneur and time truly is money. Can I afford to spend it fighting with some anonymous troll online? Or should I work on a new writing or editing job or spend that time promoting my brand? I will never be the king of clapbacks because I have money to make.
I'll share two examples with you. One, I shared a Black Lives Matter tweet in 2016 and when the racially motivated hate showed up in my mentions, I instituted my method: delete, mute, block Two, I once wrote an essay about a troll who verbally accosted me in a Facebook group. He read it and apologized. I know it doesn't happen this way often but it was a positive outcome. Though solving arguments with trolls this way would be exhausting. Good outcome? Yes. But also a waste of time. How do you want to spend your time?
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M3: If you enjoy this podcast and you want to dive deeper into the articles that I discuss here, please go to my web site. It's W W W uptown bourgeois dot com. That's w w w .U P T O W N B O U R G E O I S dot com.
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M1: Let’s say it's not so easy for you to walk away. You wanna engage in battle. You want to win. What do you do? First step. Make sure you aren't fighting Black Twitter.
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F5: My biggest fear in life besides maybe getting shanked, because that means they stabbed you multiple times on purpose, there’s like a proximity and intention behind getting shanked. Unlike gunshots, because you can get shot on accident and really, you don't you have to be at close range to shoot somebody and cause bodily harm. But don’t nobody shank nobody on accident, you know what I’m saying. But after that, my biggest fear is getting dragged by Black Twitter, just strewn from one end of the World Wide Web to the other.
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F6: Just grab me by my edges and drag my body down your timeline.
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F7: Second, take the high road. I know it's hard to resist an opportunity to clapback but it feels good to take the high road, y’all, believe me. Lifehacker offers some great no-nonsense advice.
1 Don't feed the trolls. Just like a zoo animal. A troll will keep feeding as long as you provide the food. Stop rewarding them with your time, energy, and precious words and block them. If you stop paying attention to them they'll go away.
2. Don't take it personal when a troll directs their negative energy at you. It's rarely about you. Maybe they're having a bad day. Maybe they're jealous of something you've accomplished. Maybe they see your profile as a place to get some attention. Don't take these troll attacks as a personal indictment of your character. It's rarely about you.
3. Conserve your energy and use it to do dope shit like not arguing with people on Twitter.
4. Laugh. If you're being trolled you're doing something right. Don't get angry, get glad and move the fuck on.
5. If you get pulled in, be nice as hell. Ask questions. Agree with what they're saying. Be diplomatic. People who want to be rude to you won't know how to respond to niceties.
And 6. Don't be so damn sensitive. Sometimes you're receiving constructive criticism; that's feedback. We millennials already have a bad rep for not being able to take feedback. Please don't perpetuate the stereotype. Take it all with a grain of salt and keep pushing.
Before I go I leave you with this. Lessons from a former troll named Paul Jun in a piece for 99 U. He writes, “As we become more vulnerable online, the chances of being trolled increase. The more you ship and put yourself out there, the more likely you will come across people who despise you or don’t understand your work. Because technology is maturing faster than we are, trolls will always exist and will feel compelled to sabotage you and your work. Why? Because they have nothing better to do. It unmans them to see you pursuing an artistic and worthy endeavor. Is a world without trolls possible? Highly unlikely. So we must stop asking the impossible. Instead we can follow the one principle that safeguards our creativity and productivity and keeps the trolls at bay: Whatever you do don't feed the trolls.
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F1: Thanks so much for listening to the Uptown Bourgeois podcast. Check back for new episodes every week and subscribe on iTunes or SoundCloud so you never miss out. If you love it, share it with your friends. If not, shoot me an email and let me know what you’d like to talk about. Until next week… The Uptown Bourgeois podcast is written, produced, and edited by Jefferey Spivey and is an official property of Uptown Bourgeois, LLC.
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F7: All original music is provided courtesy of RMVD.
This podcast was transcribed using Simon Says.