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It’s not about the peas

February 4, 2008

I’m kind of a newbie on Twitter.  I’ve had an account there for more than a few weeks, and have been playing around with it.  I’m beginning to see more a point to it as I go along, but it’s still a work in progress for me. 

As I’ve been exploring, I’ve been “following” people more and more.  They’re not always people I know, but that’s been the fun part.  Finding people who have Twits that interest you and seeing who they follow is a great way to get acquainted with a new blogger or learn something new.  So, every day, I “follow” about 5-10 people.  No big deal, until the other day.

“MeanTwitter” – not his or her real name – responded to my follow request with a “direct message”.  I’m paraphrasing because I will not name this person, nor do I want to take up the matter with them any more than we already have.  Anyhow, the message said in effect, “Thanks for the following request.  I see you do not have ‘peas’ on your avatar.  If you follow me, you need to have a “peas” avatar, and I will not follow you unless you do the same, either all the time or on Frozen Pea Friday.  Thank you, goodbye.”

If you’re not familiar with peas thing on Twitter, it’s essentially to support a woman named Susan Reynoldswho is fighting breast cancer.  She found amusement, warmth and support when she used a package of frozen peas to relieve the swelling from a biopsy. 

I didn’t know Ms. Reynolds before she started blogging about her experiences with breast cancer.  I’ve been so impressed with her, and am now a fan.  But I don’t have a pea avatar.  I can’t really give you a good reason why, but personally it would have felt false.  Not because I don’t support her, but it’s not like me to jump on a bandwagon publicly like that. 

I don’t appreciate that someone would try to bully me into having a pea avatar.  Does this person know me, know my background?  Do they know that I have a dear friend who has been fighting this disease for more than a decade?  Do they think I don’t care simply because I have not put peas in my icon?  Do not get me wrong.  I support Susan Reynolds to the fullest in her battle with this insidious disease.  I just don’t do it with peas.  When I am asked to donate to someone’s Race for the Cure team, I do it.  If and when my friend asked me to drive her to chemo or radiation, I would do it in a heartbeat.  Get my kid’s class to write letters of support to someone going through a bone marrow transplant – been there and would do it again.  If I was requested to write a letter to Congress to demand more money for cancer research or to fund mammograms for low income women,  you’ve got me.  Heck, I’d even march on Capitol Hill if you needed me to.  And I’d be thinking of Susan Reynolds when I did it.  You might even say I would do these things because of her and the other women in my life who have cancer. 

That’s the point, isn’t it?  I bear no ill will against anyone who has peas in an avitar and I hope this post isn’t taken as being anti-pea.  But I also don’t believe in bullying someone into doing something for a misguided purpose.   I can’t imagine Ms. Reynolds would want there to be someone taking things this literally.   Deny me a following because I didn’t sign a petition or encourage women to go for mammograms.   Don’t deny me a following because I chose not to change an avatar. 

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 4, 2008 1:25 pm

    I’m 100% with you on this one. I was stumped on the peas thing until you explained it and I guarantee half of twitterers don’t know why they have peas on their avatar. Actions go so much further than accessories on avatars, (although I acknowledge the whole morale boost, at this point it’s just trendy.)

  2. February 4, 2008 5:29 pm

    Sorry you had such a bad experience. That’s just obnoxious and rude and not what Twitter is about. :(

  3. February 4, 2008 5:46 pm

    Hi Al, that’s the hard part about when these things become trendy. Do you lose the message that the movement is trying to convey. Think about those little rubber bracelets.

    Thanks for the kind words, Wicked. Boy that felt weird to type. :-) I’m not abandoning it, but I did want to speak out in case anyone had the same experience…let them know they were not alone and shouldn’t feel stung by the community, because that entity does not speak for the community.

  4. February 4, 2008 11:36 pm

    Geez! I have a peavatar, but I don’t always use it. I don’t always log in, and if I do, I don’t necessarily know that it’s “frozen pea day” or “snarky twit day” or whatever. If it were official, wouldn’t there be a note upon logging in?

    I’m glad to “meet” you, and I’m glad you didn’t let the jerk run you off. I’ll try to remember to log into Twitter tomorrow :-)

    Cyn

  5. February 5, 2008 1:26 pm

    Maybe I’m just in a foul mood today but when it comes to things like supporting causes that mean something to you I think actions generally speak louder than words. Words in this case being the pea avatar, actions being donating, driving, writing to congress etc. I don’t get it and furthermore I don’t get why some a$$hole would get so worked up over something kind of meaningless! I agree that supporting brave Susan Reynolds is an incredible thing to do, but bullying others to use an avatar? Kind of misses the original point….

  6. February 5, 2008 10:56 pm

    Ellen, I am disheartened to hear of the rude message you got from whoever is behind “Mean Twitter.” That is absolutely NOT what the Frozen Pea Fund is all about — and since I’m the one who created it, I speak with authority on that.

    The “peavatars” are simply a fun way of showing support for Susan and others going through the cancer fight. They face so many tough, depressing days that we decided to lighten the mood for them, and we chose to do it on a designated day, Fridays. We also have a web site where we encourage people to donate a minimum amount equal to the cost of a couple of bags of frozen peas — about $5 — to the American Cancer Society for breast cancer research and programs. So far over 250 people have donated over $8,000 to the fund, and it’s growing rapidly.

    I wouldn’t expect anyone new to Twitter to join something like Frozen Pea Fridays unless or until they had found out what it was all about and was something they supported. Anyone who represents otherwise does not speak on behalf of me or Susan or “the peas.”

    Cyberbullying angers me, and I will speak out against any instance of it being associated with the Frozen Pea Fund. So I thank you for bringing this to public attention. I appreciate every person who supports the fight against breast cancer through any forum or charity.

  7. February 6, 2008 8:18 pm

    Hi Connie, thanks for your blog comment. I’m not sure if I said it loud enough, but I am 100% positive that the person who sent me that comment was NOT affliated with the fund, and was merely someone trying to do something good, albeit in a horribly misguided way. You and the other PEAvatar folks have been so kind…gosh. I might just put some peas in here somewhere! That’s, sorta, what I was trying to do in the header, but my Photoshop skills suck….

    Thanks…I showed a good friend of mine who has been “kicking cancer’s ass for over a decade” Susan’s blog. She was all over it – wants to contribute and thinks she can reassure her and some of Susan’s followers. Thanks for visiting, again, and thanks for all you’ve done to raise awareness and support to fight this horrible disease.

    –Ellen

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