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My Twitter editorial statement for the Russian aggression war in Ukraine

April 17, 2022

Hi, new followers.

I’m Jaanus. Welcome to my personal social media accounts. These days, I’m mainly active on Twitter.

My goal with this editorial statement is to outline who I am, why I post what I post, and what you can and can’t expect when following me.

Russia attacked Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022 (which also happens to be Estonian Independence Day). Russia’s war of aggression is also being waged in the information space and in all of our minds.

Why

Standing against the Russian invasion in Ukraine is the greatest cause of our time. Previously I’d tweet about all sorts of random trivia, technology and work stuff. But none of this matters now as much as beating Russia in Ukraine. I decided to convert my account over to information warfare, and join in.

My greatest motivation is signal boosting. I want to amplify the signals that I think need to be amplified, to help Ukraine win. Ukraine is doing very well in the information space, but Putin’s strategic corruption in the West is deep, and our work is not done until there is no more talk of “appeasement” and “reset” and such. Russia does not belong in the family of civilized nations. Our goal right now, beyond beating them militarily on the territory of Ukraine, is complete economic, military, cultural and mental blockade and isolation.

We don’t exactly know how Twitter algorithm works, but all likes and retweets help. I hope that all my likes, retweets and posts will help surface the material that needs to reach wide audiences. The content of my own account, what you see when you follow me, is almost a side effect and not my main goal.

Some other motivations:

I’m Estonian. I was born in Soviet Union, in occupied Estonia. Today, I live in free Estonia and European Union. We know what is at stake.

I’m Ukrainian. I don’t mean spiritually, like “we are all Ukrainians now in our hearts.” I mean it literally. One of my grandmothers was born in Ukraine. Thus, I’m 1/4 Ukrainian. I haven’t shared it too widely, and due to various life circumstances, I haven’t been in touch with that side of my family all that much. Perhaps that will change now. But I do all the more feel it viscerally. This is my war. It is my people, my kids and grandmas, whom Russian orcs are raping, torturing and killing right now.

Principles

I follow these principles when selecting what to like, retweet and especially, what to post on my own.

I’m a free man. I have no connections with any government agency or international organizations. I work in technology, my work and customers are completely unrelated to the Russian aggression war. This means I don’t have any inside info about anything, but it also means I’m not accountable to anybody, and can post what I like. I am only accountable to my own conscience.

I’m not an expert. You should not trust me, as you shouldn’t trust most things you see on the Internet. I am a layperson about most economic, military and political matters. I am curious, though, and try to keep myself informed and educated.

I cross boundaries. I mediate the world and Ukrainian affairs to my Estonian followers, and vice versa.

I work across languages. Twitter official app and website have a fantastic “Translate tweet” feature. I share tweets originally written in Ukrainian, Russian, German, Estonian, English and many other languages, posting my commentary in either Estonian or English. The machine translation is sometimes lossy and weird, but I understand the gist of the message in most cases, and often rephrase it in my own terms.

I follow the New York Times rule. Especially in my own posts and commentary, I stand by everything that I post.

A balance of rational and emotional. Humans operate as a perfect union between the brain and the heart. My posts also cover both sides. So I don’t only do facts: emotions matter as well, if not more, than the cold hard facts.

Culture and stories. I take great interest in stories, culture, music, as they relate to the war. I try to share the ones that matter to me.

Lossy and sparse. There is a lot going on, and I don’t aim to cover everything. I have some time to spend on Twitter every day, but I have my limits and I myself have unfollowed accounts simply because they post too much. I try to share less, but more relevant things, and mostly when they speak to me directly in light of all the other principles.

Humor and clarity. I often quote-tweet stories that strike me, with my own comment. I try to be light-hearted, and on the humor side. Often, I rephrase technical language into something that’s more human.

More love, less fear. I believe that we as humans have two main motivators for anything we do: love or fear. I try to live my life geared more towards love. Thus, my posts ultimately also are about love of life and freedom for Ukraine, Estonia, Europe, and all of the free world. I don’t fear or hate Russians: I simply wish they would leave Ukraine, stop bothering other nations, and figure out for themselves who or why they are.

Cover image

I want to talk about my Twitter cover image. It appeared during the first weeks of the war, and deeply struck me. There are many iconic photos from the war, and surely there will be more. This one has stayed the most deeply with me so far.

Here is the primary source. Here is another Facebook post from the same author explaining the background of the photo. The girl is the photographer’s 9-year-old daughter, the photo was taken on Feb 22 two days before the invasion started, and the shotgun was of course unloaded.

The photo speaks to me on so many levels. Most obviously the behavior of Russian invader orcs towards girls, women, boys, toddlers, infants, and really anyone. Raping, killing, torture. She is ready to confront it. On a more abstract level, she also is a metaphor for Ukraine, Europe, and the whole free world. There is the duality of her being ready, and the whole situation being so unfair. She is a child who should be in school and not carrying a gun. She did nothing, Ukraine did nothing, to deserve this. She is not guilty of anything. Our grandparents in Ukraine, Estonia and the whole Eastern Europe gave no cause to the fascist invaders of 1939 and 2022 to come rape and kill us. This photo has it all.