Call-Centring to Dispose of Sealions

Hello ladies (and some others, but I think this is going to be mostly of interest to women).

If you are like me, you will be talking along to friends on Twitter, and someone you’ve never spoken to before will jump in to give you their very important insight. Most often, these seem to be cisgender, heterosexual white men, i.e. the group in society most used to assuming their view of the world is right and proper and that by imposing it on you, they are merely educating you.

This phenomenon is so common that it has a name: sealioning.

Arguing with these people tends not to work, they love arguing and eventually accuse you of being “illogical” or “emotional”, and declare themselves the winner. Asking them to go away doesn’t tend to work, because they just get cross.

Well I’ve discovered how to deal with them, and so far it has been foolproof. Introducing, call-centring.

Here’s the idea: you respond to their tweets, but you don’t respond to THEM.

I’ll show you an example. Let’s assume I’m talking to my friends about cats or something, and twitter user, @sealion_1990 jumps in:

@auntysarah: Oh wow, @my_friend just found this really nice picture of some kittens!
@sealion_1990: @auntysarah Actually … sealion sealion mansplain sealion

Now we invoke the call-centre. They play the customer. You play the bored and indifferent call centre hold system/computerised agent. Just like a customer service agent at a real call centre, IT IS VITAL TO STICK TO THE SCRIPT AND NOT ACTUALLY ADDRESS ANYTHING THEY SAY FROM NOW ON. First inform them that they are in the queue:

@auntysarah: .@sealion_1990 Thank you for your unsolicited opinion. It has been placed in a queue for consideration. Your queue position is … 9 billion.

Note the use of the .@ reply. This heightens the effect by humiliating them in front of your followers. They just don’t realise they’re being humiliated yet. What follows are actual responses to this technique, but I’ve changed the name. It helps to have a few pictures and vines on hand of you chilling, ignoring the phone, whatever. I keep a few stored ready to go.

@sealion_1990: @auntysarah it was solicited, otherwise you would not have posted it publicly for public response.

They often come out with something like this. DO NOT ENGAGE, hold your position:

@auntysarah: .@sealion_1990 All our operators are busy ignoring other unsolicited opinions. Your opinion is important to us.

Ooh, you aren’t playing his game. Now he’s getting irritated. He must sneer.

@sealion_1990: @auntysarah I take it you have nothing intelligent to reply back to

The assertion that he is “intelligent” and you just don’t understand. Silly little girl, you need to debate him on his own terms. Not going to happen, time for another canned response:

@auntysarah: .@sealion_1990 Press 1 to hear a beep and 2 to hear a different beep. Your opinion is important to us.

Anyone sensible would realise you were mocking them. Anyone sensible would likely give up now, unless somehow their ego was wounded and demands redress!!!!!!

@sealion_1990: @auntysarah no intelligence. You do a good R2D2 impression though.

Let’s throw in a vine. I have one of me humming the allegro from Vivaldi’s Spring. You know, the one call centres always use:

@auntysarah: .@sealion_1990 Please continue to hold. Your queue position is now… nine billion … and … one

(You may need to click the volume control to hear the hold music).

We bumped his queue position up by one, too. If he still doesn’t go away, he will say something like:

@sealion_1990: @auntysarah You don’t pass on ideas with rudeness

You have a number of options, you can keep going with canned responses, you can ignore him, or you can block him. What I tend to do is keep a few more canned responses in reserve, such as:

@auntysarah: .@sealion_1990 Our engineers have detected a strange whining noise on the line. Please continue to hold.


@auntysarah: .@sealion_1990 Ignoring your opinion is sponsored by Tissues for Cissues and Spaghetti Feelz in Menztears Sauce. Please continue to hold.

What pretty much always happens is that they get more and more frustrated until they just go away. If not, when you get bored, finish off with:

@auntysarah: .@sealion_1990 Please continue to hold…

Then block them, and move on.

This technique is like kryptonite to sealions, seriously. It completely flummoxes them and it has the advantage that unlike trying to ask them to leave you alone, or actually engaging them, it’s fun.

Go get ’em!

Calling for an End to Trans Conversion Therapy

This is the speech I gave to the 2015 Liberal Democrat Spring Conference, introducing an amendment to the mental health motion to call for an end to transgender conversion therapy.

The amendment passed without opposition.

I’d like to read from a young girl’s Internet diary.

I really need help.

Hi, I’m Leelah, 16 and ever since I was around 4 or 5 I knew I was a girl. As soon as I found out what transgender meant, I came out to my mom. She reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl.

I wanted to see a gender therapist but they wouldn’t let me, they thought it would corrupt my mind. They would only let me see biased therapists, who instead of listening to my feelings would try to change me into a straight male. I would cry after every session because I felt like it was hopeless.

Please help me, I don’t know what I should do and I can’t take much more of this. I don’t know if my problem is serious enough that I can contact authorities for help and even if it is I don’t know how much that’ll damage or help my current situation. I’m stuck.

Two months after writing this cry for help on the Internet, transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn took her own life. This was in the US, but it could easily have happened here.

Studies show that when transgender people express a need to undergo gender transition, if they are not able to then 50% will try to kill themselves.

Conversion therapy does not work. This is not opinion, this is established fact. If you try to talk a transgender person out of changing gender, there is a better than evens chance they will try to kill themselves. This is not opinion, this is established fact.

If you subject a transgender person to conversion therapy, you might as well drive them to Beachy Head and tell them to jump. Conversion therapy kills transgender people.

When the NHS, the Royal College of Psychiatrists and other bodies signed a memorandum of understanding against conversion therapy for lesbian, bisexual and gay people in January, they called it “unethical and potentially harmful”.

They also left transgender people out.

Well, conference, conversion therapy for transgender people does worse than potentially cause harm: it kills them.

All this amendment asks is that transgender people are given the same protection from dangerous quackery that lesbian, gay and bisexual people are given.

Coercing vulnerable transgender people into discredited conversion therapy is not a valid psychological practice. It is not helping people who are struggling with their gender identity to come to terms with themselves.

It is attempted murder.

Conference, I implore you to support this amendment and put a stop to this appalling practice. Thank you.