I'm chatting to Hawke Wood (he/they), a disabled, autistic, non-binary streamer, about what social media is like for them and how he's building a community on Twitch and Discord.
It's an extra long and juicy episode as we also cover cancel culture, how businesses kill social platforms, being an effective ally and "inspirational" disabled people and the "good gays."
Hawke is an autistic, disabled, non-binary actor, singer, writer and streamer. They play a lot of video games and love the theatre. They have appeared in well known TV shows such as Emmerdale as well as various animated films, shorts and even a Bollywood film or two! Hawke graduated from St Mary's Drama School in 2020.
Join the movement to change social media from the inside out: https://socialmediaforhumans.club/
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Other links mentioned:
Sarah Taylor's podcast episode about allyship.
DJ Nrrd on Twitch.
I hang out on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bushnell_cs/
Find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SocialMediaForHumans
Voice over by Hawke Wood: https://www.spotlight.com/3490-9081-8844
- [Hawke] Hello, and welcome to Social Media for Humans. The podcast that empowers you to do social differently. Your host, Alexis Bushnell and her guests discuss their experience of social media as business owners, users, and ultimately humans. With insights and advice to help you find an effective and ethical strategy that works for you. Grab yourself a drink and join the conversation. - Hello, hello, I am here with my lovely friend, Hawke. Do you wanna introduce yourself? Tell us who you are and what you do. - High, I'm Hawke Wood, I'm an actor, writer, singer, arty-farty person (chuckles). I do a lot of the Twitch streams at the minute video games and stuff. My pronouns are he or they, I live in London with my fianc and it's good. - And very talented you are at all of those things as well. And with the professional setup as we have just discussed. Far more professional than mine. So, when I spoke to you about this you said you were happy to talk about being neurodivergent and disabled and using social media from that sort of perspective. So, what's your sort of first thought like, when you think about your experience and social media, what comes to mind? - It's strange, it's like my preconception was that it was gonna be very negative, very difficult and you do get those people obviously, but I feel like I've been either very lucky or it's massively spun out of proportion and it's not as bad as you think. So, yeah, I feel like genuinely, social media and internet connectivity has been a lifeline for me. It's been so much more successful than kind of meeting people in real life. So, yeah, I have a lot of positives, I mean, it's not perfect. And I do spend a lot of time kind of trying to promote awareness for disabilities and neurodivergence and such, but on the whole, especially my little kind of left wing corner of Twitter and stuff, it's been a really good experience. And I met some really nice people that I otherwise never would have, so yeah. - That's really good 'cause actually, I have had the same situation is that my experience of social media by and large has been really lovely people. And it's that weird thing of like, you see everywhere all these people complaining about how awful Twitter is in places. And I do think like, it is more noticeable, I think people remember more when someone says something mean. - Oh, definitely, definitely. So, especially if you've got quite like 10, 15, maybe more people coming at you at the same time, I think it drowns out all the good stuff you have going on, so I do think it's easy for it to feel like awful. - Yeah. - Even if in sort of percentage terms, you're actually having a lot of more good conversations than you are. - Definitely, definitely. I mean, I'm the kind of person that catastrophises everything. So, trying to deal with it now, but a few years ago, if I was waiting for a bus and it was a minute late, that would be my whole day ruined, I'd have to go home and like, scream and cry and pull my hair out, literally, 'cause I just couldn't deal with that. So, obviously, if anyone says anything remotely even like, neutral on Twitter, I'm like, my life is over, I need to leave. And I think a lot of problems can be dealt with simply, literally just at the point where I got in my life where I could say no. And I realised it was okay to say no, like this person has been a dick, I don't have to interact with them, actually, I can just get rid of them, it's fine. I'll think about it for a week and I'll be stewing but I don't have to respond to you and make it worse, so, that helps a lot. - yeah, that is something, like I could relate to that. Absolutely, and for me, like, I am that person who just embodies the meme, like, somebody is wrong on the internet (laughs), like, no, but you're wrong, but you're wrong, which is not the most healthy way to interact with people. So, yeah, for me, it was a lot of like, you don't have to respond to everybody, you didn't have to leap into every discussion, you don't have to, you know, it's okay to just walk away. - I mean, I think, the major thing is they're never gonna agree with you because they're not listening to what you're saying. So, just by responding to them, they've already won because they're not here to have a discussion or a debate or actually think about what you're saying. They hear to tell you you're wrong. - Yeah. - After that argument, you could tell them that their eyes are blue and they are blue but they're still gonna disagree with you, so learning not to give them that power has been a huge progressive step for me. And obviously, it's very easy, especially on Twitter, trending stuff, you can disappear down a hashtag Trump rabbit hole and everything's terrible. But if you stick to your own little safe space where you've built your actual community of people that you know and enjoy then it can be a really positive experience. And I'm speaking pretty much exclusively about Twitter but the same for Instagram, Facebook, whatever you use really. And Twitch, Twitch has been wonderful. - Yeah, all that stuff, because there is a vast difference I find between sort of certainly lefty spaces online and what is happening in the world. - Yes, definitely. - Do you find, because I do, that when you spend sort of a lot of time in those spaces where people are accepting and progressive and are like, yeah, let's change world, everybody's welcome and then you turn on the news and it is very much not that. - Yes. - Do you find there is this like, but wait, how is this reality when everybody in my circle is not like that? - Well, I think, again, it's kind of every truth is seen through the prism of your perception, your perspective and that's news as well, news for all intents and purposes is impartial, but it's not. The person who writes the story isn't impartial, the person who reads the story isn't impartial, the person who finds out about the news to make the story on, the person who films it, like, everyone has their own perspective and they may try and minimise bias, but then someone needs you to put a little spin on it or whatever. So, I think the best thing to do is never fully accept the nice left-wing stuff that you're experiencing in your little world and the horrible things that are on the news, neither of them are fully true, because they're all kind of framed in certain ways. So, I think the important thing is to remember that it's not quite as terrible as they say, it's not quite as terrible as they say, it's somewhere in the middle and for all the extremists that are saying, oh, things people should die, this should that should. And they're not actually doing anything about it, though, are they actually? - Yeah, that's true, that's true. Yeah, yeah, that's true. - [Hawke] Yeah. - Good point. - [Hawke] Thank you. - So, you mentioned that you are on Twitch - Yes. - And I know you have been streaming for a little while now. - It's almost my year anniversary of being an affiliate. - Oh, wow, is it? - We're happy nearly year of anniversary, that's very impressive. (indistinct) like, I'm not a streamer but you do really long streams and you're sort of building a community of people on them. - Yes, definitely. - So, tell me about how that is going for you and how you find it. - I mean, honestly, phenomenal. it's been so wonderful, I started out on YouTube a few years ago just sort of 2016, 2017-ish. And it was literally just, I'm gonna be stuck playing video games all day anyway, I don't have a job, this was after I had my second nervous breakdown, fun times! and I kind of moved back in with my mum and she was incredible, literally sort of fed and bathed me to begin with 'cause I was like catatonic. And then she slowly built me up and honestly Pokemon Go was a huge help just to get me out of the house and stuff. It was when Pokemon Go first started though, so it was like the servers where I was overloaded and that was the end of the world as far as I was concerned, I couldn't, throwing my phone, it was horrible. But I sort of learned to deal with that, that little thing that isn't actually that important, and I learned to deal with other things and my mum was amazing, supporting me the whole way through. And then it got to the point where I felt strong enough to actually do something, and I didn't quite feel ready to have a job, especially not where my mum lives in Durham. I wanted to move back to London and I have. So, I was like, I'm gonna be playing video games all day anyway, why not make it a job for myself? Give myself something to do, have a structure of my day, get up at this time, record a video, edit the video, post the video, have a routine. And that was great, I really enjoyed it, it didn't become super famous or anything but that wasn't the point, the point was to give myself a routine, a regularity. And then there was a whole thing with Google like deleting people's accounts and blocking them and stuff for like no reason, it was all mental. So, I moved over to Twitch, just to kind of test the water, and I found that really suited me a lot more, because the whole point really was A, like I said, the routine and everything but B, the community aspect of it. And obviously with YouTube, it's prerecorded, you can record live on YouTube, but YouTube generally speaking is prerecorded whereas Twitch, generally speaking is live stuff. So, I found myself gravitating more towards Twitch because people were there in real time to hang out with you. Then I went to drama school, so it all kind of did it when I could, kind of didn't do very much. And then COVID, lockdown. Yeah, so my graduation, I still haven't graduated. I mean a have, like, officially but I haven't had a graduation, obviously. we did have a Zoom one with, oh my gosh, her name's gone, I'm a terrible person. The woman who played Hermione in Cursed Child. She was in "Dr. Who" as well, I can't remember her name off the top of my head. - I am so sorry, I have seen neither of those things. - It's fine, the people will know - [Alexis] The people will know. - She's an incredible woman, she's one of those people that have like a real job for years and then became an actor sort of later in life and she's wonderful grounded, like, really good advice, wonderful woman, so that was amazing. And in theory, we're gonna have a proper one eventually, but we'll see. So, that kind of happened, it was like, I was gonna have my final production at drama school and everyone was gonna come see it, my parents were gonna come down and all that kind of thing, and then do the big graduation, and it was just like, nope, no, we're not gonna do that now, you've got your part for the play but it's never gonna happen now, on your way, bye. So, that was a really weird kind of non-ending, and I was still in London, still out a few months before I graduated but uni was over for all intents and purposes. So, I started on Twitch again, just kind of 'cause I didn't have anyone, I lived on my own, like one of my flatmates moved out to go back to his parents for a lockdown. And the other one, obviously, we're trying not to interact too much and stuff 'cause it was early days and we didn't really know what was going on and everything. So, even though I was technically (indistinct) when I was on my own, so it was literally just so I didn't get lonely, and then I thought, well, I can't be the only person in this position, you know? So, I sort of messaged all my friends and said like, I know this is coming across like I'm trying to promote myself, whatever. But genuinely, if you just wanna hang out, this is what I'm doing, we can play games together we can chat and stuff, and keep each other company, but don't feel any pressure, it's fine if you don't wanna do it and stuff like that. And a few people were like, yeah, cool, let's do it. So, they became kind of my core audience and then over time, more people from people I don't actually know which is crazy started coming in regularly, and that kind of like my online people, friends. So, I have kind of built this community over the year and we just hang out, I play the games obviously, but in games where there's choices to make whatever, people help me decide. And it's more the games kind of like, when you have a film on in the background, it's more about the chat and just hanging out with each other and supporting each other and stuff. And it is like a super, super Queer space, like, everyone is practically, like, 90% of my chat is trans, the other 10% are very least, a little bit gay, It's super, super left wing little group, but it's wonderful and I feel really, really honoured to have these people that actually like to spend time with me, I mean, it was crazy. Yeah, so on the other day I had 200 followers, so that's cool. - Wahey! That's awesome. - [Hawke] Yeah. - So, do you know how that grew naturally then? 'Cause you said it's now grown outside of just the people that you know, so were they recommending it to people or was it the games that drew people in? How did that sort of work on Twitch? - A bit of both, on Twitch you can do tags, it's kind of like hashtags on Twitter and stuff where the automatic ones come up, oh, you're playing this game, it's a first person shooter, it's a whatever, but you can also tag for LGBT, which is really nice, so I always had that tag on. So, a few people just search that and come up, yes, occasionally it is, oh my God, I haven't seen this game in ages or I wanted to see someone play this and things like that. But a lot of it is yes, that my friends recommending me to people and also Twitch have a really nice little system called raiding, I don't know if you're familiar, it sounds horrendous, but it's actually brilliant. It was basically like, okay, I'm done streaming now, but so you guys aren't just like, out in the wilderness on your own, I'm gonna take you over to this person's channel 'cause they really cool. So then, the whole groups that are watching you migrated over to this other streamer and then they get a nice little boost of, oh, new people, yeah. So, (indistinct) yeah, it's really cool, and it's amazing, you just kind of hanging out, playing it and then suddenly someone else raided you with 42 viewers and you're like, what the, it's amazing. So, things like that have been a huge boost, you raid it and then you go, oh, actually I've been forced to watch this person effectively. But actually, they're really cool, I might follow them as well and come hang out here when the person A isn't available. So, it's a lot of that as well, so it's just kind of, A, the community of streamers that support each other and raid each other for views and then the community of viewers who also then go, oh, this person's really cool, I'm gonna invite my partner to watch or my friend or whatever. So, yeah, it's just kind of tendrils out. I have a lot of people in Germany that watch me for some reason, which is really cool. - Yeah, (indistinct) interesting that it sounds like, 'cause I don't know a lot of Twitch, Twitch is not my thing but it sounds a lot like it's been essentially designed around that community sort of feel been designed specifically for that versus certainly like YouTube is not so much of that, there's not that sort of community, it's not easy to send people to other channels and things like that. So, that is a really nice way to sort of-- - Yeah, it's really lovely, especially if every now and then if I'm not streaming yet, I'll go on Twitch and I'll search a game I like, and then go, oh, this person doesn't have any viewers. So, let's go check 'em out. And then if you see someone that you actually like, oh, this person's really new, but they're really nice so I'll raid you next time or give you a shout on my channel and stuff. So, yeah, it is very community based. - That's nice, it's nice especially because it's relatively new speaking sort of in the time zones with the internet. - [Hawke] Yeah. - So, it is nice that somebody has designed that with that in mind and not just with cash, that stuff, obviously it benefits Twitch if people stay on the platform - Oh yeah, for sure, for sure. - But it is nice that they have that in. So has that sort of community grown as well outside of Twitch? Or like the people who are on Twitch with you, is that basically where they hang out? Or are they also following you on social media or elsewhere? - Yeah, they do follow me elsewhere as well Instagram, Twitter, and all that kind of thing and also Discord. Discord is a huge aspect of Twitch which I did not get for a very long time. I was like, I wanna just (indistinct), I don't know what's happening, everything's (indistinct) I don't like it. But people kept coming in and being like, oh, have you got a Discord? And I'm like, no, no I don't, I'm a bit of scared. But I eventually gave in, I've got a Discord now. And that's kind of like a WhatsApp group chat kind of thing, but obviously you don't have to hand out your phone number. It's just whoever can come join. And mine's set up so you have to accept the rules to say you're not going to be an ass basically before you come in and you can set your pronouns and stuff, it's really nice, and there's different, they called channels, there's basically different categories or topics, kind of like a live message board, like an old kind of message board forum, but instant. So, yeah, that's really nice. And obviously, everyone in there can then go on this page and go, oh this person has Instagram and Twitter and stuff as well. So, yeah, definitely. I think the core still is like mostly just Twitch but I've certainly gained quite a few followers and things on other platforms. - That's interesting, that's interesting. Yeah, 'cause I know a lot of creators, generally, who they use Discord as like a Patreon benefit and things like that. And my response to Discord is exactly what your first response was, like, ah, I hate this, I can't work it, what going on, it makes no sense. So, I have not got on the Discord train. But it seems to be really popular, and it does make me wonder if this is sort of part of the shift to more sort of private social media based on group chats and private areas which makes my job somewhat more difficult. But it definitely it's nice because it focuses on that community vibe. There's less sort of corporate influence. - [Hawke] Yeah. - Less, obviously not none but less, which is nice. So, if your sort of community on Discord then, all the conversations around what's been going on during the stream or rather is it just like, is it a free for all? - Oh, it's an absolute free for all, Yeah, I mean, like I said, there's different channels, so I've split it kind of, I don't wanna go too into it 'cause if there's like a million different sub folders and things, there's nothing wrong with it. So, there's a general chat where you can just say whatever you want, you can comment on the stream, you can talk about your day, whatever you like, and then I've got like a pictures channel and a Twitch does this thing called clips as well where if something really funny happens or whatever, you can go and clip it, because Twitch streams only last for a fortnight and then they're just kind of yeeted into the void and never seen again. But if there's something really particular that you wanna keep, you can clip that particular moment and that's there forever. So, there's channel my Discord as well to list all of those and obviously, other people are welcome to put their clips in there as well. So, yeah, it's kind of just whatever, I think the idea is kind of it's an expansion of Twitch for people to talk about other things than just the stream and will actually be themselves and be fully fledged people rather than just Twitch commenters, you know? - Yeah, yeah, yeah. That actually, that is something that I think is important because I do think that a lot of the problem with the traditional social media platforms, if you like, is that people don't see beyond just that username and that tweet or that comment or that whatever. - [Hawke] Yeah. - There's this huge disconnect between there is somebody behind that username and that might be a really awful horrific comment but maybe they're having a really, really bad day. And somebody, you know, like something awful has happened. And there is a lot, that is for me, I think a lot of the problem. - Yeah, definitely. - That sort of forgetting that all of those people, Okay, not all of those people, bots, but generally speaking, they are actually people. So, it's nice to have that sort of ability to connect with people in a more whole way if you like. - Absolutely, yeah. - Get to know them like that, do you find that that makes Twitch and Discord more friendly, I guess or less aggressive, maybe? - Yeah, I think so, I mean, I think social media falls into this amazing kind of gap in the middle of being like, oh, it's social media, you're interacting with people, but you're not, you're interacting with, like you say, that username or whatever. And I think a lot of people fall into the trap of feeling really lonely and not understanding why because, oh, I'm tweeting all the time, talking to people all the time, but there's not that connection 'cause there is that disconnect of the username or whatever else, you just see like that specific angle of that person, if you will. So, yeah, I think on the whole, I mean, obviously, there's still people on Twitch would come in and go, oh, you're really bad at games, or whatever, but same as anything else you can block them or whatever. So yeah, I think the people who make the effort to come into the Discord are people who want that interaction or want to kind of spend more time with the people that were in the chat or whatever and expand their actual friendships like I've developed genuine friendships with these people. And then I have on Twitter as well, occasionally, but I feel like it's much, much more prevalent in the Discord of things. And it's much nicer, like, I really like to learn people's names if they drop into my chat all the time rather than just their usernames, because it's really nice just to hear someone go, oh, hey, Hawke, how are you? And you're like, oh, (indistinct), I mean my username's the Hawkeward so it doesn't take a genius, but it's really nice to have that live interaction with people. - Yeah, yeah. Actually, it sounds a lot like, because all way back in the day when Twitter was just a baby. Twitter kind of had that vibe that was definitely much more of a community vibe and that you tended to interact with the similar people and grew up around that. And that has definitely shifted on Twitter now because I'm sure we met through Twitter, it must have been Twitter. - Yeah, I was just talking about this with Mel last night. I can't remember, it must have been. - Must have been. - I can't remember for the life of me. You're just there, I'm just used to like knowing you. - Been there forever! Yeah, like a lot of my friends, including my best friends, we met through Twitter back in the day - I met Mel on Tumblr. - Yeah, see Tumblr was really good for that sort of community side of things as well. That seems to have fallen by the wayside a bit now. - Yeah, I wouldn't touch Tumblr with a 10 foot broomstick now. - Mistakes were made. But yeah, it's interesting to see because if you sort of look at how the trends in the large social media platforms and how they sort of start out as likes sort of Twitch and Discord are now as these sort of community driven places, people wanna connect with individual people, get to know people, build friendships and relationships, and then as the sort of ads come in and more businesses get on that, it moves away from that but the fact that people are leaving those places and then joining new places like Discord and Twitch and TikTok to a degree, I think. there is a call for actual connections. - Definitely, definitely. - And I think it's really weird even from a business standpoint for me to see big places like Facebook essentially abandon that in favour of ads because clearly the people want those actual connections. - [Hawke] Yeah. - So, even from a business point of view, it would make sense for them to enable that and prioritise that to keep people on their platform. So, it's heartening to know that people want this connection but it's a little bit frustrating. So, you said you've had sort of a lot of friendships through Tumblr and Twitter and that. Has that been a lot because of your disability or was that just happenstance because of your generation, you were online a lot, that's just how it was? - I think a little of column A, a little of column B, I mean, I wasn't diagnosed with autism for years, it was literally last year I finally got the diagnosis. Yeah, because the first time I asked. my doctor said, "No, you don't have autism 'cause girls can't get autism." - Wow. - And that was it and wrong on both counts there, sir. - Well, you are incorrect! - But I kind of decided that I was autistic like eight years before that. it just kind of occurred to me and I looked in like read a few books on Asperger's and things like that when it wasn't all just the ASD spectrum. And I messaged a few friends, like, I think I might be autistic. And a lot of them responded with things like, well, duh. I was like, okay, I might be on the right track on that one. And a lot of people in my family have autism or autistic traits as well. So, it was kind of like, I don't know if it's not been discovered as genetic but it wouldn't surprise me if it is because of so many people in my family do have traits like that. So, I kind of just adjusted to the world and acted as though I had a diagnosis before I did. And I finally got one, so I was right all along. So, yeah, I think it is a little of column A, a little column B, like one of the things I noticed about going to drama school with people who were 18 university age, even though there's only a few years between us, they aren't stuck to their phones like we are because they've always had them, so they're used to them. Somebody sends them a message, they'll get back to you in two days. I'm like, oh, God, must respond immediately, now I can't leave it, 'cause the generation we grew up in is of everything being new and exciting and must engage, must engage, Whereas they're just kind of, yeah, I've had a phone since I was three and I don't really care. So, definitely I think that's been a huge influence, I mean, I remember every day after school from about the age of 12, I was on MSN, Skype, MySpace, Facebook, whatever was the current thing, I was just on it all the time. Must interact, must interact. So, certainly that, but also yes, being autistic and having that difficulty connecting with people in real life, and find it was a lot easier to do it via the internet, via texting, via whatever, even today I hate phone calls, I find I can present myself in a much more accurate way by writing it as text than speaking, which is a common thing with autistic people. A lot of them don't like to use the phone 'cause they don't really understand when it's their turn to speak and they find it really awkward, and we can't read facial expressions very well but it still helps to have the person there in front of you rather than on the phone. So, certainly that as well has helped a lot and I think even people who aren't neurodivergent, people who are just kind of awkward or a little bit shy or whatever, having that first impression be the thing that you present online is a lot easier for people to kind of go, okay, I'm gonna give this person a chance and interact with them rather than just go, okay, this person's a bit weird, I'm gonna go somewhere else, 'cause they're not weird, maybe they're just shy or awkward or they thought it would be funny, and then it turned out to be like really an appropriate thing to say, 'cause I have really terrible sense of humour where I'll say something and everyone will be like, oh, and I would be like, I thought it was, I've just really insulted this person, I was just trying to be funny, I'm so sorry. I do that all the time. So, to have that kind of safety net as it were of being able to type it and look at it and go is that a really horrible thing to say or is that actually funny? Okay, okay, we're good. So, I think it's definitely helped a lot in cultivating friendships and things. And then with Tumblr and such, especially, you meet people because you look at the same fandoms, you go, oh, we're interested in the same things. We're gonna be friends rather than school friends that's literally just geography has dictated, these will be your best friends for like six years. - Yeah, yeah, I have to say that is something that I find really, really good about social media is A, the ability to present your actual self in a way that is authentic, without that sort of, like for me, it's intense anxiety with people, so I'm just like, I will say or do anything to get away from this situation right now, so I just do not wanna be here. So, it is for me, that is really helpful. - I find that I'm the other way round because I'm not very good at reading kind of social situations, I get very intense for people, which obviously I don't intend to, I feel like I'm being very friendly and just being open and stuff, but people find it a lot 'cause I get right in there in the conversation, I'll just tell you anything as soon as I met you, it's fine. So, having that barrier to be like, okay, maybe chill a bit, (laughs) helps a lot 'cause I can't do small talk, I mean, most people can't, I don't think that's particularly an autistic trait but can't do small talk, so I just dive straight in with like hernias and shit. Just drop it in, why not? And I think physically, I don't realise I'm doing it but physically, I kind of push my neck forward and I get very close to people. So, the physicality as well as the conversation that can be quite intense, which I don't mean to be and in my head it's not intense at all, but obviously people find it a lot. So, having to do online where I can just type a joke and obviously it's kind of an unwritten rule that it's just okay to be a bit more familiar, a bit more jokey and stuff with people in a tweet rather than in person. Nine times out of 10, there's something you tweet someone that you've never met before, just a random comment, you would never just say that to someone on the street if you overheard that conversation, would you? (Alexis and Hawke laughing) that helps a lot, yeah. - Yeah, that's an interesting point actually, because there is like on Twitter, there seems to be sort of two camps of like, yes, it's totally okay to just drop in to another person's conversation 'cause it's public platform and if both of your account are public, then you can drop in and say, put your two cents in, whatever. - Yeah. - And then other people who are like, no, this is a private conversation. I sort of torn because like, I get it, but you were having that conversation essentially very loudly in a packed pub. - Yes. - Somebody is gonna overhear and wanna tell you what they think. - Yes, and there's a sign on the door saying drop in anytime with anyone, that's fine. - Yeah, so it is interesting, and I have seen that sort of, this is a private conversation thing come up more again recently past year or so, 'cause it seemed to dissipate certainly in the circles that I run in on Twitter that sort of everybody was just accepted, it's a public platform, if you see a conversation you wanna be involved in, you get involved in it. - Yeah. - And then I've seen it sort of come up more again recently. And I wonder if some of it is essentially pandemic related that people are using public platforms to have more one-to-one conversations because they're not at the point where they wanna give out their phone number or get on WhatsApp, whatever. But maybe they also don't really wanna slide into the DMs 'cause that's a bit of a sketchy situation. - Yeah. - So, they're sort of trying to have these conversations, out in public, but they also don't want random people being like, well actually, I disagree with this and here are my sources because it is difficult. And I noticed some people put things in their Twitter bio that are like, don't get involved in my conversations, don't talk to me about this. - Oh really? I've not seen that. - Oh, yeah. And I can understand why, because if that's how you want to use Twitter, but it assumes- - [Hawke] That you're gonna read the bio before you comment. - Yeah, exactly, go and read the bio where you see the tweet and then come back and not respond. - That ain't happenin'. - I don't think that's how people are using Twitter. I don't think they're even using the hovercards, but I'll just have a quick look. So, Twitter is a weird place, it is a really weird place. and yeah, I will say they are trying with Twitter. - [Hawke] Yes. - They are trying, bless them. So, you said you've had primarily great experiences. So, Twitter is in, okay. I will rephrase this, a lot of the other sort of trans people that I know and follow have a not good time on Twitter, that tends to be where they get the most shit basically. - Yeah. - So, what, do you know, like, why you have not had that? Do you know what is happening? What is that, what is going on? - I think sadly, I think the reason I don't get it is because people see me and read girl, it's as simple as that. Nobody's going into the bio, like you said, and seeing the pronouns or anything like that. so people just go, oh, that's a girl. So, it's a double-edged sword, 'cause obviously, every time someone does that, I'm like, oh, God, it hurts. But it does mean that I escape a lot of that kind of stuff, especially with non binary kind of, a lot of people are still kind of on the camp of it, doesn't, it's not really a thing. So, a lot of people just assume girl, read girl and I skate through that way. And even if people do see non binary, they just gonna go, oh, it's not really a thing, you're a girl. Whereas if I think if I was a trans man, or fully male to female or female to male, the binary version, I think I would get a lot more flack. - Yeah, maybe, maybe, yeah. Is there anything that you think because like I say, Twitter is trying, they are clearly listening to users now. What do you think would improve the Twitter experience or people generally? - I mean, it's a hard one because, short of literally like pre-approving posts and things like that. And there's not really a lot you can do 'cause it's not the platform that's the problem, it's the people using it. I mean, obviously there are always improvements that the platform itself can make to make things more accessible, make them more user friendly, make them more blah, blah, blah, but at the end of the day, short of saying only left-wing people can use this, there's a quiz at the beginning when you sign up and if you tick the wrong box you're not allowed on, short of doing something like that, I don't think there's anything really you can do. And I think even if in 15 years or so when trans people are completely normal and most people don't really raise an eyelid an eyebrow even much like sort of being gay now is, there's still a few people are like, oh, gay is wrong, but on the whole, it's accepted. So, obviously, in the next 10, 15 years, it's gonna be the same with trans people, I reckon. So, when that happens, there's gonna be a new issue, it's not gay anymore, it's not trans anymore, it's the next thing. People are never gonna just settle down and agree, so there's not really a lot you can do 'cause everyone, there's always gonna be someone who wants an argument and is gonna have an argument. So, short of literally just blocking everyone who disagrees with you, I don't think there's anything really proactive they can do other than just keep making these minor little tweaks as they are, you know? I mean, it's not perfect and obviously individual staff members all have different thoughts and opinions about things but I think on the whole, they are doing their best, really, the best they can do. I'm not even a massive Twitter fan but I think on the whole, like I said, it's kind of the best you can do in this situation. - Yeah, yeah. Yeah, no, I agree, I think a lot of it is like you say, is the people are (laughs), as usual, it's the people. So, yeah, I think they've sort of changed their review process and stuff like that. I believe they have sped that up now. But I know there has been improvements but there has also been a lot of people sort of clamouring for the changes at the platform level. And I can understand, especially sort of bigger names and celebrities because it's different, it's just as difficult for individuals but for normal people who are getting like five, 10- - [Hawke] Not verified. - Yeah, like, 15 so replies, which are like, you're awful, you're wrong, you know these things, whatever. But it's easier to deal with, I think, than if your replies are suddenly flooded with tens of thousands (indistinct) sort of wade through that and just be like, what is happening here? Yeah, so it is, I think it's, I wonder if it would be worth them implementing some kind of strike policy with accounts. - Yeah, that would be useful, yeah. - Because as much as obviously, some of the problem is like bots and like bot accounts that are purposely designed, (dog woofs) TiLi also does not like bots. (both laughing) But there are definitely actual real people on there and I do wonder if some kind of strike policy of like, you have said something abusive here, you have said something abusive here and it monitors the actual account themselves. - Yeah, that would makes sense, I could see that. - I'm not sure how that would go over in the States, though, with freedom of everything. - One of the many things that I've found is hashtags and things are both a blessing and a curse. - Oh, yes. - Like I say, on Twitch and stuff having the LGBTQIA plus tag on those, really been lovely to kind of show people this is a safe space and all that kind of thing. But then on the flip side, things like Instagram, especially with, you know, I like to put disability tags on my things, the things that are disability related anyway to kind of get into that community aspect more. But there are a lot of people who use those tags for MLMs and things. - Oh, yeah. - I've had so many humbots flooding my messages as soon as I post anything disability related like, oh, I just had flaxseed now, I can walk again, it's a miracle. Yeah, it's quite offensive. - Yeah, just, just a touch, just a touch. - So, yeah, I think hashtags and tagging and things like that is interesting now. And it is much the same as the big businesses and things come in and they try to be down with the kids and cool and all that kind of thing. And they sort of browse the hashtag. I did get a free pizza once from Chicago Town or something, which was interesting. I dunno it's been a while, I just said like, oh, I fancy a pizza or something and they were like, have a pizza, okay, thanks. It was odd, but sure, why not? But it is kind of the same thing that you were saying before kind of thing, like, people go in for their community and then be it big businesses or be it some girl was trying to get him like making her way in the world or whatever. They all come and clamour to the community and then the community goes, oh, I don't like this anymore and moves on somewhere else. And we are just kind of stuck in that rinse and repeat stage really, it was MySpace, then Facebook, then Twitter, then Tumblr, Reddit then back to Twitter again and then YouTube just got whatever. And it is sad, I think that people did, I mean, in some way we did with TV, people watch TV and then there are too many adverts, so we moved to Netflix and YouTube. And then YouTube got lod of ads so we moved away from that as well. I understand businesses, they need to advertise, they wanna make money, blah, blah, blah, but it's taking away the humanity of these things and it's sad, you know? - Yeah, yeah. I do think that there is a middle ground as well because I think a lot of the problem is greed essentially. It's that, right, we can put ads in here and we can put ads in there and here's this strategy for you to get to these people who might wanna buy from you. And the focus is 100% of the time on making money. - Definitely, yeah, definitely. - And I do think there is a balance between which is basically what I talk to my clients about is there is a balance between you need to make money so you need to sell things and promote yourself and you need to offer value to that community, you need to be there for that community, you need to actually be involved in it for the sake of being involved in it not because you think they're gonna buy from you. - Yeah. - There is like the two can coexist, but you can't just drop your promotion and go buy from me, I love this community. No, that's not how that works. - No, I've seen some terrible ones, like, I saw one, it was like a GoFundMe, someone's young son as well had died like, a very small child and they needed to GoFundMe for the funeral. And someone popped in and was like, "Hey, deals on this." You're just like, no, (indistinct). Terrible, but as a consumer, I'm happy to watch ads, I'm happy to interact with people who are trying to promote their business, especially smaller individual people but even the bigger ones, every once in a while, I understand that's just kind of part of the game and that's fine, I'm okay with that. Like watching ads on Channel Four or whatever, that's part of the process, they need to pay for the channels so you watch the adverts, that's fine. But it's when it's just a deluge of promoted tweet, promoted tweet, promoted tweet, sponsored this, sponsored that, it's like but where's the people? Like there has to be a balance between the advertising side of it and the actual thing I'm here for. You can't just overtake one, I'm not just gonna sit there and browse through ads forever. And I think, yeah, it does get overtaken by greed and the messing their own product by over advertising it, so people leave the platform and then they don't see the adverts at all rather than once a day or once a week, it goes to zero, you're defeating yourself. - Yeah, yeah, definitely, no, I do, I agree. It is very frustrating with me, especially when it's a platform, 'cause I used to be mad for Twitter, like Twitter was my favourite. - Oh, me too, me too. - And Twitter just got not, it was just basically 100% of here's my last blog post. Did you see my latest video? Here's this sponsored post, here's a sponsored tweet. And I was just like wow, okay. - I now since talking about disability more constantly get adverts for yoga. - I'm not gonna lie, I am that person because like yoga changed my life, but also not gonna tell you that it cures chronic illness. - Right, I'm in a wheelchair, I don't wanna do yoga. - Yeah, it's like, let people find their own way, so it's not for everybody, people are gonna find their own way. - So, it's ridiculous. I mean, I liked yoga as well, I did, when I could actually do that kind of thing, I enjoyed it, it wasn't my favourite thing in the whole world and I didn't go around telling everyone else to do it. But just the irony of like, oh, this person's disabled so we're gonna give them a load of health ads that involve running and working out, and that's gonna help, yeah, thanks. - I think that really ties into the ableism in society, though, and this attitude of you're disabled so you must not have done something or you must be doing something wrong. There must be something you personally can do to fix it It's like, that is no, no. - I mean, sadly, that's still how we feel about wealth, (indistinct) oh, it's your fault that you're poor. You must've done something wrong, you didn't save hard enough 'cause you went on that holiday five years ago. Why did you waste your money on that instead of buying a house, which you'll never be able to afford even if you did save up. Sadly, we pretend it's not the case anymore, same with academia and studies and things, oh, you didn't go to university, so you're stupid, so we do have all of these horrible judgements about, I still do it myself, it's so ingrained. I still see people and make judgements about them, of course I do, everyone does it. But it's about being aware of that even if you know it's not gonna fix itself overnight and that's fine, that's okay. And I say the same thing with people who get my pronouns wrong, the important thing is that you make the effort, the important thing is that you respect me and listen to what I'm saying and make the effort to do that. I'm okay if you just call me she once and then go, oh god, I missed, I'm sorry, they. Fine, it's the people who are ignorant and refuse to do it, that are the problem. And I think some people are so scared of getting it wrong and if they do, they just freeze up and they don't correct it, 'cause they're like maybe nobody noticed. We definitely noticed, but it's okay. - Yeah, yeah. But I think actually on that note as well, on social media I find and I am gonna call out the vegan community for this, like, the people who are trying and mess up get so much more abuse than the people who aren't even trying. And it is just endlessly frustrating to me somebody says I'm, oh, vegan, but, man, I had a really bad day and I just had to go and buy this dairy chocolate bar and it reminded there was just nostalgia and I feel awful, but also it made me feel better and I can cope a bit better now. And just people just descend on them. And I think there are how many billion people out there who aren't even not just like thinking about it, but they're not even thinking about it, they don't care, they're not interested and it's a much more easier target because you know you can make an impact because that person already cares. - Yeah. - But I do think we should be talking more and talking, not attacking the people who aren't there yet, the people that aren't trying and be like, why do you not care? Why are you not trying? what is it? What education do you need to understand why this is important? And yeah, it really, and I then find that that in itself stops people who do care from talking more about it. - Definitely, definitely. - And actually, Sarah Taylor did a great podcast about an allyship on this. And she was talking about the sort of stages of allyship and a lot of it is just like, you have to put yourself out there, you have to be prepared to fuck up. - Yeah, definitely, absolutely, 100%. - You're not gonna get it perfect all the time, things change, you don't know everything, that's okay. But you have to be willing to try and actually put yourself out there and go like, and if you do fuck up, go, God I'm really sorry, that won't happen again, or that just did that, brain slip, whatever. - And on the flip side, thorny topic but cancel culture, no, we have to forgive, I did some terrible things when I was a teenager, I used every slur, horrible word, at least once in my life, of course I did 'cause I didn't know any better, now I do and that's okay. As someone on an outside perspective, someone go, oh, I might look into being a vegan, they see that comment of this person who's had a chocolate bar on the deluge of, I've said deluge a lot today (laughs), of comments telling them they're the scum of the earth and they should die and all this kind of thing. And then they're gonna go, nope, nevermind. I'm not gonna bother with that. - Yeah, yeah. - Obviously, there are certain things where you're like, that is unforgivable. you're like, I killed 36 people last year but I'm trying really hard not to do that now. Oh, okay, okay, that's fine. (indistinct) most things, just allow people to make mistakes 'cause we're all human and we're all obviously making mistakes all the time. And things like language we use, it's okay to call someone Black now, but 20 years ago, it was a different word and in 20 years time, Black might not be appropriate anymore. What are we gonna do? Go through all these tweets and be like, oh, you called this person Black 20 years ago, so you're cancelled. You have to move with the times and forgive and allow people to be ignorant. I always say especially for people who have questions about my transness or anything like that, ignorance is never insulting because you don't know and that's okay, I don't know everything, nobody does. It's okay to ask me question if they're genuine questions, they're genuine searches for information and knowledge, then fine, obviously there's difference between questions that you ask like what kind of genitals I have and things, that's just not. I mean, some people do ask that from a genuine place of ignorance and you go that it's actually not okay to ask me that, oh sorry, yeah, of course it isn't, I didn't think of that. And that's fine, but you know. So, I always say, if you have questions for me, please ask them. If you have something that you're unsure about, I'd rather we have this conversation even if it does cover topics that are maybe generally speaking not appropriate to have conversations about but I'll have that conversation with you once so you know better for next time. And I don't understand this concept of like, oh, this person genuinely didn't know something so now we hate them forever. - Yeah, and I agree, the other thing is like, for me, it's very much like, what do I want the world to look like? Well, I want everybody to be accepting and understanding and compassionate. Is totally writing somebody off because they said a bad things gonna get us there? Like, no, they're just gonna double down and be like, everybody hates me, everything's awful I might as well just continue doing what I'm doing. And like, hold my hands up, I used to be an anti-feminist, that was me back in the day, and I said some pretty awful things about trans people and I had some pretty vocal views about women's rights and I'm a cis woman. So, people change and it's okay and a lot of the reason that I have grown more progressive, really progressive is because people were willing to have those conversations with me. - Absolutely, yeah. - And we're willing to be like, why do you feel this way? What is going on here? What about this person? And I think that's another thing is those individual stories, a lot of people go in with and I'm guilty of this as well, go in with sort of the stats and the sort of facts and figures and news articles. And what people mostly really need is to realise that there are real people who this affects, an individual story of somebody who they can then relate to and be like, wow, that sounds really awful that you're having to go through that, that's not okay, and this sort of attitude of you said the wrong thing, you sent three or four tweets. You are, nobody should ever associate with you ever again, is a real issue because it doesn't allow for learning or growth or personal improvement or anything and that isn't gonna get us anywhere good in my personal opinion. - I mean, I haven't had it for a while, thankfully but where I was growing up was a very kind of old fashioned thinking gays are bad, everything's terrible kind of place, I had death threats, I got attacked a lot and things like that, it was all urgh. But on the flip side, there were people who would say, oh, I hate gay people but y'all one of the good ones. And that's exactly what it is like, okay, You think I'm one of the good ones? Guess how many other good ones there are but you haven't met any of them, 'Cause you've just decided all gay people are terrible but you like me, even though I'm that thing that you don't like because you know me as a person and so maybe you get to know a few other people and oh, maybe they're the good ones, too, maybe actually as a whole that group isn't so terrible. That's exactly what it is. - Yeah, when people say that, I always wanna sort of question them and be like, so when they come for the gays, you realise I'm on that list. They're not gonna go around and ask their sort of straight neighbours, like, is this one of the good ones? - [Hawke] Yeah, yeah, exactly. - It's not gonna happen like that, its all or nothing. And there are some horrifically awful gay people in the world, - [Hawke] Of course there are, yeah, 'cause they're people. - But that doesn't mean that it's not okay to be gay-- - Yeah, they're not awful because they're gay, they're just awful. - And it really frustrates me. And I noticed that there's a sort of flip side to that as well where it's like gay people have to be good. - Yes. - And in media, especially I think gay men get this, they have to be this certain type of gay man. Anything outside of that is like, no, we can't deal with that, you have to be this very specific kind of gay man, and that's okay, yes, you can get married, you can live next door to us, you can adopt children. the rest of you, no, no, no, no, no. And it's so reductionist, because like everybody is different. It blows my mind because there are straight people, nobody is like, well there's this one specific type of straight person is okay, like everybody can understand that there is variety in straight people and that's because they're all individual people. - It is a huge thing in disability community as well, you're not worthy of being a member of society unless you're inspirational. - Oh God - I need to do a marathon, drag myself on my elbows before I'm a valid member of society or worth being alive, even. There's some terrifying, heartbreaking stories about NHS turning away COVID positive people because they're disabled, because they're vulnerable. So, what's the point in even bothering trying to help them? It's horrendous, horrendous, they're not valued members of society because we don't have a job, we don't contribute like most people do, but we do our own thing, we do our best, but you're not inspirational so... - Yeah, yeah, do you find then 'cause I do think certainly, the disabled influences that have gone mainstream, specifically, are a lot of the sort of comments and stuff and their posts are kind of centred around being inspirational even if that's just in a sharing sort of their honest reality of being like, yeah, I guess we got through another day and there's that sort of view from then abled people who are like, well, if you can deal with this, with chronic pain or this issue, (indistinct) then I can do anything because I don't have to deal with those issues and do you find that you get comments sort of when you use sort of disability related to hashtags, are people expecting that from you? - Yes, absolutely, yes. Most of the comments and those kinds of posts are you need to do this, this and this or you should complain about this, you should do this, that's not right, that shouldn't happen so you should do this. That onus isn't on me to fix the problem 'cause it's just every day that this bus didn't cater to me, the ramp wasn't working there, this wasn't accessible. It's every single day, like, I can't even get out of my house because there isn't a ramp up to the pavement. So, I have to, literally, my partner has to push me down the road because we can't get on the pavement. And then at the end of the road, there's a hill like this, you know? And along the way, I can't get to the nearest bus stop because there's a massive tree in the middle of the pavement and all the roots have built up the tarmac and stuff around it, so it's impossible to actually get there. In my chair, we have to go to the next one. But if I say that, it's all, oh you should complain, you should write to this person, you should do this, that and the other. And I'm like, no, it's not on me personally to fix these issues 'cause I didn't make these issues, you know? And it's very kind of, oh, bad disabled person for complaining, you should be proactive in fixing these things rather than just commenting on this being an issue, because that's my main thing is raising awareness that because for me, especially, I think it's been a real eye-opener becoming disabled because I got to see the world from both sides. - [Alexis] Yeah. - and I get to see that even though when I was able bodied, I thought I was very supportive of disabled people and did my best, I'm not saying I wasn't, I was, but you really don't know just how much is different when it's actually you in the wheelchair, when it's actually you using the crutch or struggling with this than the other. it's so much more than able-bodied people realise and myself as well, this isn't a criticism on able-bodied people, because it's just impossible to know. - Yeah. - It's just impossible to know just how much it is constant around you and there is very much an attitude on social media and things of you can raise awareness to this point but if you go to this point, then that's just complaining and that's very negative, tap, tap, tap. - [Alexis] Yeah. - And it's a really fine sort of tight rope actually, that you have to perform to be raising awareness rather than just moaning, 'cause if you're just complaining, that's not allowed 'cause disabled people have to be positive at all times. Whereas if able-bodied person comes in and goes, oh, my delivery was messed up and I'm gonna complain about this and I have a massive thing on Deliveroo about my pizza or whatever, that's fine. But if I come in and say, oh, this place wasn't accessible, I'm really upset, that's not okay, I need to write to the owner of the place and get it fixed myself and you go buy the tarmac or something, I don't know. It's on me rather than the problem. And I think that's probably why the more well-known disabled activists and such talk like that because they have to, they have to do this inspirational disabled thing, because if they don't, people just write them off and go I'm not gonna listen to you, all you do is complain all day, I'm not interested, bye. So, you have to kind of play the part of this inspirational disabled to get people to actually respond and listen rather than just see the negativity. And so, it is a very fine kind of balance that you have to kind of cultivate, it is very difficult, and a lot of it is sadly pandering and I'm not like that's not end of the person doing the pondering 'cause they have to do that. - Yeah. - Yeah, the audience, and not that's completely on the audience for not being willing to listen to someone who has a different viewpoint to them, and say actually, things aren't as easy as you think they are just 'cause you had that experience where you just walked down the road. That's not the same for me, I couldn't get past this car, this bit of paving side was sticking out so can I get over it, all that kind of thing. And it's a very hard balance to strike, certainly, and (indistinct) sorry. - carry on, carry on. - I was just gonna say, it certainly has made me kind of very much more aware of like re-editing and getting the wording right, changing one word very slightly and that kind of thing to make sure it's not complaining and it's more sort of neutral. And I do have to kind of edit myself a lot now for that kind of thing. - What is the best way then that able-bodied people specifically, can help in the way they respond on social media in what they do in their life, like, what are the useful things that they can do that take the onus off disabled people? - Well, the big obvious one is if a disabled person says this part of road isn't accessible, instead of just saying, you need to fix that, help us to fix it. One person saying this isn't very good isn't gonna be enough for anyone to do anything, the able-bodied people need to come in and say, I agree, I support this disabled person and think this road should be made more accessible or this thing should be fixed or whatever, 'cause percentage wise in population, disabled people are the minority, definitely. - Yeah. - So, their voices on their own aren't enough. It's basically the same thing as allies for Queer and LGBT people. Our voices alone aren't enough, you need to be an active ally in that, you can't just say, oh, I support these people, off you go do what you do. You have to fully be in it and support us and raise us up and say, I've listened to this person and I agree and wanna help. So, they are helpful in terms of practicality, like you need to complain to this person, I know that, but just making me do all the work isn't gonna do anything because it's just one voice. So, it's the listening and yes, the helpful comments are great, but you have to do something as well. And also, sometimes all you wanna do is just have someone say, yeah, that sucks, I'm really sorry, I had a bad day at work or whatever, someone goes, oh my God, that person was horrible to you, I'm really sorry, have a cup of tea. That's all you want, disabled people aren't any different, sometimes they just want someone to agree and say, I see why you're feeling a bit crap, that's all you need, you don't need someone to come in and be like, oh, well practically you need to do steps one to five. Just want someone to, yeah, that was a bit crap, I'm sorry. - Yeah, that's something I talk about a lot with mental health and mental illness, so many people like, I don't know what to say when you're struggling or when you're feeling like that, I'm like, literally, I just want somebody to see me and just be like, yeah, that's shit, I'm sorry you feel like that. - Exactly, yeah, you just having that person to listen and share does lift the burden even if you don't practically do anything about it to fix it. You just need someone there shoulder to shoulder with you to get you through that moment, that's all we need. - Yeah, yeah. See, that's a happier note to end on (laughs). Just support each other, just be with each other, you don't have to fix it for people. - Yeah. - Well, it's been really, really lovely chatting to you. And we've covered lot of ground. - We have, yes. - All the good stuff. Do you want to tell us where people can find you? - Sure, yeah, so I'm basically everywhere, I'm like a virus. (both laughing) - Don't say that. - Censor that word! You can find me on Twitch, twitch.tv/theHawkeward, I think you're gonna post links and stuff so just click down there. - Links everywhere. - I stream weekdays, I stream doing my main A game of just me on my own, Saturday evenings me and Mel do a joint stream where we'll play something silly like Crash Team Racing or Mario Kart, that kind of stuff. Sundays I do a group stream with my good friend DJ, which is twitch.tv/djnrrd, but instead of an E in nerd, it's two Rs, so nrrd. He's a lovely guy, so that's every Sunday at 3:00 PM. We do a group stream of like tabletop board games and stuff like that, so if that's your bag, please come hang out with us, it's a lot of fun. You can also find me Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, I'm on all of those. So, yeah, come come say hi to me. - Very good, yes, I will put all of the links and all of the information and everything in everywhere, show notes, bio, wherever I'm posting it, basically - wonderful. - [Hawke] If you want more regular reminders to find your own way to use social media, follow Alexis on your social platform of choice. All the links will be in the show notes. Until next time, be a human.