News & Politics

A Conservative’s Survival Guide to the Twitter War

(Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto)

One of the most beloved voices on the Right has left Twitter. Instapundit has had enough. The social media platform is toxic, divisive, abusive, and even dangerous, as many of us who have had our lives threatened know from firsthand experience.

Because of Twitter’s increasing suspensions of accounts to promote principles of liberty, many want to follow Instapundit’s lead and kiss Twitter goodbye. But some are hesitant. I’m one of those.

I almost deactivated my account, but then decided against it. That’s because for some time now I have looked at Twitter not as a social site, but as a battleground in the culture war. It’s not a pleasant place to be. It’s not even a place to meet nice people, though surprisingly I still do. It’s a war zone. If I thought of it any other way, I would have to leave — immediately.

Since I’m not, and I know there are others out there like me, I decided to help rally the troops with a Twitter survival guide. This isn’t a guide that promises to keep you from getting suspended. No one knows when anyone will get suspended for speaking the truth, so you might as well just go ahead and fearlessly do it.

No, this isn’t a protection from the Twitter overlords. It’s guide to war — not a physical war, but a war of ideas.

1. Get your head in the game.

Before you can survive any war, you have to know that you’re actually in one. This is more difficult for some to accept than you might think. They see people going about their business every day, and the battle isn’t real to them. That’s because it’s a war of ideas that sometimes spills over into the streets. Many of those political and cultural conflicts begin or escalate on social media.

We are a politically divided nation with hostilities that would have thrown any other nation into a raging civil war. Our system of government has saved us from that — so far. Conservatives want to preserve our constitutional and Judeo-Christian heritage that has protected us from tyranny. Our freedom is at stake and we will fight for it. This isn’t petty. It isn’t hyperbolic. It’s the most significant battle of our lives.

War is messy. It’s frightening. It’s full of gray areas standing between us and the crystal-clear goal of liberty. It’s not for the faint hearted, but I’m confident conservatives can wage it — and win.

2. Know your enemy.

You can’t fight a war if you don’t know your enemy and their strategies. Our enemy is anyone who holds to ideas that undermine and attack the principles, values, and institutions that protect our liberty. Ideas are the focus. These are what need to be fearlessly and intelligently dismantled and delegitimized on Twitter.

Leftists are organized with strategies in place to take out conservatives in politics and the media. When you see a flood of tweets attacking a conservative viewpoint, they are often bots created by Media Matters and other Leftist organizations. These people know they’re in a war, and they’ve been fighting longer than most conservatives who have been sitting at the debate table in their suits and ties getting knocked upside the head.

The enemy is not interested in truth. They’re not interested in compromise. They’re not interested in debate. They don’t share the same national identity as conservatives. They see this nation as stained with all sorts of evil. To find redemption from these past sins, the nation must be transformed into a Marxist utopia that promises equality of despair.

Conservatives, of course, see our nation as the greatest achievement for human advancement in all of history. It’s not perfect, but life never is. It is, however, free.

3. Know your allies.

An army divided will not win. It will fail every time. Anyone who wants to preserve principles of liberty needs to get past internecine conflicts and focus on the big picture — on the aim of defeating the evils of cultural Marxism. Never-Trumpers have been a problem in this war, and some continue to be a problem. If they really do stand for principles, then they need to get into the fight and understand that their fellow soldiers aren’t going to be cookie-cutter copies of some conservative ideal.

The whole point of alliances is that you are conspiring with people who are different from you, yet they share the same goal. Alliances can reek of utilitarianism, but this is war. Being pragmatic is oftentimes necessary. This, of course, doesn’t mean you make bad alliances. Wisdom needs to be employed because a bad alliance with the wrong group could do more damage than good.

Like I said, war is messy. Mistakes will be made. We must be cautious, but one thing we need to understand is that purity in the ranks is a sure way to defeat. This is something the Left understands well.

4. Stay calm.

As soon as you log onto Twitter, take a deep breath. Remember, you’re in a war. Expect the worst. Know the attacks are coming. When you get your mind wrapped around what you’re doing, you won’t panic and say something stupid (something we’ve all done). Breathe and prepare yourself mentally for battle.

5. Know your subject.

Focus on what you actually know when you engage. Don’t get into debates or sling arrows into a timeline that you know little to nothing about. Discover what your strengths are and focus on those. If you know immigration, focus on that. If you’re a warrior in the battle against feminism (one of my favorites), focus on that. If you are terrible at economics and business issues (like I am), stay away from those debates. Bring your strengths to the battle, and stay in your lane.

Whatever your specialty — and you might have many — study it, learn it, so you can be a strong warrior in the battle of ideas. Unskilled warriors will get killed in any war. If you’re a generalist, keep it general. Don’t get into the weeds of topics you don’t know well. Leave that to the specialists.

6. There’s no shame in retreat.

If you find yourself in a conflict in which you’re over your head or the other side has piled on so viciously that you can’t answer everything, retreat. Better to stop tweeting than continue and say something that makes you an even bigger target. This is hard for us highly competitive and emotional types, but do it. Regroup, refocus, and come back stronger.

7. Leave the past in the past.

If you do screw up, let it go. Don’t ruminate over it. If you have an apology to make, make it — but then move on. Learn the lesson, but don’t get beat down by past defeats or mistakes — and ignore others who keep reminding you of them. We all stumble. You won’t win every battle. Focus on the present as you keep your eye on the goal.

8. Unify and organize.

This is key and something the Right is terrible at doing compared to Leftist community organizers. Look for issues being debated and lend support to fellow conservatives. Start campaigns if you have a large following. Work as a team as you attack the enemy. Most importantly, do not shoot your own in the back through petty disagreements, arrogance or greed for fame and success. This is especially a problem among the blue check crowd.

Remember who your allies are and support them. This is hard. We’ve all attacked our own in one form or another, but we really must stop and remember who the real enemy is. If you see an ally going the wrong way, gently put some information into their timeline for them to read. Maybe send them a direct message.

Handle these interactions with care because you don’t want the enemy to use your division against you. While it’s important to hold our own to account, we don’t have to correct every little wrong. Let it be a biggie if you’re going to challenge an ally through Twitter.

If you see a traitor in your midst, give them enough rope to hang themselves and let them be exposed for what they are without the enemy using the division to gain an advantage.

9. Pick your battles.

Following on the previous point, you don’t need to fight every battle. For one, it’s exhausting. Secondly, it’s self-defeating. You can’t focus on everything at one time, arguing in every direction like a crazy person. Be wise, know your strengths, look at who needs your help in the fight, be a support as well as a leader, and know which battles can actually work to your advantage.

If you’re going to get into a debate, don’t do it with someone who has two followers. The only exception to this is if you’re in a timeline that is being read by a lot of people. In that case, answer the objections even if they’re made by someone with few followers. You’re not really talking to them, you want to have a voice in the debate for others to see when they read the timeline.

I’m asked sometimes why I am answering or giving voice to some “nobody.” This is the reason. I want others to see what I’m saying, and they’re like a springboard to getting out more information and advancing the argument. The key is not to get bogged down with these people. For one thing, they might be a bot just yanking your chain.

10. Expose war crimes

I’m talking about threats and vicious abuse. Retweet them and show people what you’re getting. This isn’t whining or being a snowflake, though you’ll be accused of that. Make the point to say you’re not complaining, but you want people to see the face of the Left. Show them the nasty language, the irrational tirades, the offensive language, the threats to your life. Expose them for the thugs they are and ask America: Is this who you want to win? Is this the kind of nation you want? Do you really think these people will respect your freedom?

When you see an ally tweeting about this, support them, rally the troops around them, and encourage them. Most of all, shame the abuser. Shame them into silence.

11. Find leaders you trust.

Most people don’t have a big voice on Twitter. This is true even for many blue checks. It’s important, therefore, to find leaders you trust whom you can follow and support. Learn from them, follow them, back them up when they’re in a fight. It’s a good idea to pick leaders in your areas of interest. Some people will fight in a style you appreciate. Follow them and support them. This is part of organizing and unifying.

There are great minds on Twitter — people with good ideas and the strength and platform to fight the fight. But even they can’t do it alone. They need you. The good ones will appreciate their followers and see them as the assets they are. This is why I try to thank my followers and remind them that they’re valuable in the fight. All leaders in the war should do the same. This is no time for prima donnas — and, trust me, there are too many of them.

12. Turn your enemies against one another.

Any time you can pit one leftist against another, do it. If Taylor Swift says something that undermines a woman’s rights issue, exploit it. And exploit it again. When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says something stupid, which is almost daily, tweet the stupidity into Nancy Pelosi’s timeline when she’s condescending to a Republican.

13. Encourage one another!

No one can stand alone. We all need encouragement, especially those on the front lines who are putting their reputations and lives at risk in the battle. Encourage them. Encourage each other. Retweet the encouragements so others can pass on the encouragment. Unity and support discourage the enemy. They want to divide and conquer, and if they see you’re surrounded by strong foot soldiers, they will be weakened in their resolve.

Again, this is a particularly difficult thing for blue checks to do for one another. Competition, ambition, jealousy, and envy lead to isolation. It takes humility to encourage because you’re empowering another; you’re giving them some of your courage to make them strong. Contrary to popular belief, humility is a strength. We should show it more — and encourage one another to do great things.

14. Let the enemy hang themselves.

Baiting and mocking are good tactics in the war against the Left. Put a stick in the anthill. Stir the pot, and then back away and watch the frenzy begin. Give your enemy just enough rope to hang themselves. This is especially true for celebrities who are used to people worshiping them. Taunt them a bit. Their irrational reactions will go a long way toward delegitimizing them.

Not everyone has this talent. If you’re not a king of snark or able to bait and walk away, then don’t do it. Sean Davis of The Federalist is particularly gifted at this. He knows just the right thing to say to irritate just the right person or group. Then he sits back and watches them hang themselves.

On the flip side, watch as the enemy tries to do this to you. Don’t fall for it. If you’re being mocked or baited, ignore it.

15. It’s okay to be a little crazy.

You’re in a war, so of course you’re going to be a little on the crazy side at times. By this, I don’t mean out-of-control psycho. Leave that to the Left. I mean brash, bold, strong, and fearless. The kind of defiance that makes people wonder whether you’re brave or crazy. It’s the stuff protagonists are made of in mythological tales. Who would rush into a line of spears when the odds are against you? Who enters dark and dangerous caves to retrieve a talisman to defeat the enemy? The fearless, that’s who.

Not everyone can do it, and not everyone should try. Only those who are made for it should put themselves out there and not care who calls them crazy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been called crazy, and you know what? I don’t care. People like me don’t care because they know themselves. They know their purpose, and they’re confident in their quest.

If you’re not one of the “crazies,” but you know someone who is, follow them and support them. They might be fearless, but even they need encouragement. Every Frodo needs a Sam.

16. Negotiation is good, sometimes.

The point of a war is to destroy and conquer. To win. The fight must be waged with a determined fearlessness and the knowledge that you’re not going to make friends in the fight. If you need everyone to like you, it’s probably best you stay away from Twitter. This, however, doesn’t mean it’s all fight all the time.

Sometimes you’ll see an opening in a debate. You’ll come across someone who is willing to talk reasonably. Take the opportunity. Give ground on your feelings and personal experiences, but never give up your principles. You can say, “Yes, I understand the difficulty of an unwanted pregnancy. Let me tell you my story.” That builds a bridge, but don’t back down from being pro-life. “I understand and feel for you, but be encouraged, there is such joy in having the baby. You’re not alone.”

17. Keep the enemy off balance.

This is not the job of everyone because some warriors in the battle have one job to do, and they do it well. You’re not going to get a lot of warm fuzzies from Ann Coulter. She is scathing in her critiques, and that’s her strength. She sticks to it. But some of us like to show different sides of our character because it’s who we are and how we express. Even if this isn’t a strength for you, try it. It can be helpful in the fight.

Showing different sides of yourself is effective at keeping the enemy from pigeon-holing you. If you’re an artist who is also politically active, discuss some art occasionally. Tweet about that. If you’re religious, show that side on occasion. If you’re a scholar, show some humor at times. Add a little sass to your logic. If you do volunteer work even as you’re an advocate for gun rights, show your diversity.

Being compassionate even as you are a fierce fighter is confusing to the ideologue who reduces everything and everyone to its smallest form. They’re simpletons who can’t handle complexity of thought or experience. They also want to reduce you to one negative thing because that makes you a strawman easy to attack. Don’t let them. Be more, show more. Be vulnerable as well as strong.

18. Passive-Aggressive has its advantages.

If you’re one of those people who can dismantle someone else’s argument before they even realize what you did, then do it. The experts at passive-aggression aren’t easy to deal with in real life, but they can be an asset on Twitter. They can tear someone down with a gentle word. They can make a cutting point before you realize just how vicious they actually were.

The passive-aggressive tactic is effective at exposing the Left because it gets them off balance. They don’t know how to respond and they show their hand. Or they’re simply exposed by the deft hand of the clever manipulator.

19. Infiltrate the enemy camp.

Go into the timelines of Leftists who are spreading nonsense and lies. Disrupt the flow of information. Be ready for the debate, and arm yourself with knowledge. They hate it when they’re trolled like this, but it is essential to pushing back on the misinformation and the irrationality of the Left. Bernie Sanders is one of my favorites. His followers get riled up easily, and they respond with stupidity every time.

20. Stand for truth.

Finally, no matter your tactics, no matter the platform, remember it is the truth that you are defending. Lies will only lead to defeat. The truth is strong enough to stand on its own. When you know you’re speaking the truth, you have nothing to fear. Though arrows are slung at you with every tweet, you remain calm and strong because the truth is on your side. This is our greatest weapon.