What a Bad ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ Tweet Teaches Us About Black Lives Matter Twitter Activism

What we learned from social media this week

Simon Pitt
OneZero
Published in
8 min readJun 12, 2020

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Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

In the midst of protests over widespread institutional racism, triggered by the murder of George Floyd, a Sonic the Hedgehog Twitter account put out a tweet. “For those who think we have no business as a Sonic site covering what is happening in the U.S.,” it began, “Sonic is wrongly detained by law enforcement in the first minute of SA2, and escaped. The plot + gameplay of Sonic Forces centers around ‘resistance’ rising vs. Eggman’s oppression.”

Over the next few days, I found myself thinking about this tweet. It was at once trivial and awful. Comparing Sonic with actual violence happening across the United States was insensitive and jarring. Even stranger, the writer had tried to create a sense of gravitas: “For those who think we have no business…” I read into it a sense of righteous indignation and fury, that it was standing up against the masses demanding Sonic news. It seemed to be hinting that injustice against the few pervaded the lives of the many, and that we were all involved. Either we stay silent and culpable, tacit supporters of oppression, or we stand up and do something. But then there was the abrupt tonal shift into banality. As the video game website Kotaku said: “That is a Very Bad Tweet!”

With the world in its current state, I often find myself relentlessly paging through Twitter. If my Twitter feed is anything to go by, I’m not the only one. Among the tweets and the memes and the threads and the shocking videos are other people describing how they too feel compelled to keep scrolling, an endless recursive experience. I’m not even sure what I’m looking for. Certainly not more videos of police brutality, although the police in the United States continue to find new and creative ways of shocking me. Sometimes, I think I’m looking for insight, for someone to articulate what I’m feeling about the violence in response to such a profoundly reasonable protest: All we’re asking…

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Simon Pitt
OneZero

Media techie, software person, and web-stuff doer. Head of Corporate Digital at BBC, but views my own. More at pittster.co.uk