Never Apologize for Tweets

Mark Duplass learned the perils of apologies after praising conservative pundit Ben Shapiro and opening Twitter's hellmouth.
July 19, 2018, 7:23pm
Left: Mark Duplass in 2015, photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Sundance. Right: The bad tweets

Ancient wisdom tells us to "never tweet" and "delete your account," but man was born to post as the sparks fly upward, so we persist in making total fools of ourselves online. The luckiest among us never get famous enough for anyone to see our jackassery, but celebs can't hide how incredibly poor their judgement is. The latest inane Twitter drama unfolded when the actor and director Mark Duplass wrote a tweet that has since been deleted, urging his "fellow liberals" to follow conservative firebrand Ben Shapiro. "I don't agree with him on much but he's a genuine person who once helped me for no other reason than to be nice," Duplass explained.

Screenshot via @iD4RO

A glut of woke Twitter users were quick to jump on Duplass for this suggestion, posting screenshots and articles about Shapiro's unabashed transphobia, as well as his tweets disparaging Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in 2012.

As BuzzFeed's Ishmael Daro pointed out, Duplass has had a friendly rapport with right-wingers for a while now in an apparent search for "common ground." But it was the Shapiro tweet that went viral and earned him so much hate he didn't just delete it, he issued an apology:

Duplass's apology could be genuine, but he's clearly playing a losing game. When you have to beg your followers to absolve you for your internet sins, there's no positive outcome. It didn't endear him to the people who were criticizing him for his Shapiro-philia—just look at the replies—and it continued to fuel the fatuous cyberdrama surrounding his initial suggestion to follow Shapiro.

"So in 24 hours I apparently went from being a person with good intentions to a racist sexist bigot. Twitter toxifies any attempt to cross the aisle," Shapiro wrote in response. "There's no conservative Mark could have recommended who wouldn’t receive the same blowback." Shapiro isn't wrong in his assertion that any attempt from Duplass to get his lib followers to check out right-wingers was bound to trigger backlash in these divisive times. Maybe if Duplass had phrased his initial tweet differently to avoid any overt Shapiro praise, he'd be in less trouble (you can follow people online you violently disagree with for the sake of diversifying your feed), but it's too late now.

To the left, the apology doesn't make up for the original tweet. Even if Duplass is a fallible human with the noble goal of spreading "unity, understanding and kindness," asking liberals to follow a man who once wrote an op-ed headlined "The Fascist Left and Same-Sex Marriage" doesn't help him achieve his lofty goals. The actor/director also failed to earn much cred from the right, since his backtracking revealed him to be unable to withstand the triggered-lib outrage any savvy internet user could have foreseen.

Twitter has never been a forgiving place—one bad tweet can and will haunt you forever. The actor-director apologized for "mov[ing] too quickly," but that's the point of social media, to impulsively post your facile passing thoughts. If you have a large platform like Duplass does, any political musing is bound to enrage some Twitter community. Repenting with a screenshot of a lengthy statement, which makes it clear that Duplass thinks his crime was inciting backlash, is cringeworthy.

As one of my followers observed, "Maybe Twitter only exists to let celebrities destroy themselves?" Which brings me back to my original point—heed the wisdom of your ancestors, and never, ever tweet.

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