How Lockwood Addresses Fidget Toys And The Internet’s Hypocrisy
In Patricia Lockwood’s No One Is Talking About This, the author uses many references to real-life Internet phenomena and interesting moments. One reference that stuck out to me is found on pages 11-12. This quote doesn’t describe just one moment to me but instead perfectly captures a common trend that occurs every week on social media apps like Twitter or TikTok.
The first couple sentences of the passage describe a toy that “everyone” is making fun of until they find out it was “designed for autistic people”, then the people who originally made fun of the toy were now being made fun of instead(11-12). This is something I see all the time on the internet. Because it is so easy to see something and immediately give your opinion on it by typing a comment or making a tweet, users can make ignorant and ill-informed jokes about any topic they want. No one wants to put in the time to understand where things come from before giving their opinion. It’s so much easier to make quick assumptions and run with those in your posts instead of trying to put in an effort to get what the product is for and why it looks the way it does. When you aren’t familiar with fidget toys or how beneficial they are for autistic kids as well as adults then it can be easy to think they look weird or because they aren’t helpful to your life specifically you dismiss their functionality for anyone else. Then when the toy’s purpose is revealed to benefit autistic people, “everyone” then changes their stance to reflect that they support autistic people and aren’t as hateful as they might’ve seemed before (12).
It is also interesting that Lockwood chooses to use the pronoun “Everyone” to describe the group making fun of the toy. It emphasizes that there were a lot of people who interacted with the post and were all on the same page in ridiculing this product before anyone decided to investigate it further. In the next sentence, the phrase “it was said to be designed for autistic people” is also a significant choice of words. In a social media comment section, it doesn’t actually matter if the toy was made to be helpful for autistic people, all it takes is for one person to say it was and now it’s the truth.
Further down the paragraph, Lockwood elaborates on the story explaining that “a stone version” of the toy exists in a museum and “this seemed to prove something”. The latter quote is so special because people on the internet tend to elaborate on a story or post with information that doesn’t have much to do with the discussion, and instead of explaining their reasoning or providing any kind of context that makes it important, they let the information sit as if it explains itself. Why does it matter that this toy was created millions of years ago (12)? You might be able to come up with a reason but whoever added it to the discussion will not explain why it makes sense to bring it up. This example from the book is so realistic because the internet can be so informal that evidence people use to support their claims doesn’t need to be explained it’s just implied that you “proved something” and for some reason that matters.
Even deeper into the paragraph, Lockwood writes that the toy is in some way related to Israel and Palestine, and “everyone made a pact to never speak of it again”. This sentence perfectly encompasses the internet’s limits. There will always be people who want to give their opinions, especially negative opinions on trivial things, but when it comes to topics that are important and require knowledge and nuanced political understanding, they will stay silent. There’s an understanding that we can argue for hours about a toy, about colors, about whether the sun is really a star. Those things are weaponized to cause people to bully and abuse each other and it’s almost a fun pastime for them. However, when the discussion moves towards a topic that SHOULD be addressed…. there’s nothing but crickets.
Finally, my favorite part of this paragraph is the last sentence: “And all of this happened in the space of like four days” (12). This is my favorite sentence because the internet can cast a spotlight on certain topics making them feel like they’ve happened forever and will continue happening forever but in reality, these are still individual moments in time that only take place over a couple of days. And any moment that completely took over your attention can mean nothing to another person because they weren’t paying attention to a certain hashtag one week. In this way, experiencing the internet is so personal but also completely impersonal. Every day there is a new topic to cause an uproar over in different areas of the internet, but most of the time the people arguing don’t really care. It was disrespectful to autistic people to make fun of the things that comfort them but the people who did it don’t really care, they’d do it again tomorrow and the day after and change their opinions when they find out their mistake again and again and again.