Side note: I was going to publish this post a week ago, however the UK riots happened and it seemed a little naff to post it then, so this may seem a little out of date; this is the reason why.
It was all going so well. The journalist Tanya Gold (whose name unfortunately sounds like an exotic dancer’s stage name) has been spouting off again about Twitter in one of her latest “Tanya Gold Is…Outspoken” articles for Stylist magazine. Sadly, it was meant to be about the very pertinent issue that female politicians, and women in general for that matter, have the validity of their careers frequently called in to question; whether it’s getting belittled with cutesy, superficial group names (“Blair’s Babes”) or having their informed opinions ignored in favour of mocking their perceived lack of good looks (Harriet Harman, Ann Widdecome) or questionable fashion sense (Margaret Thatcher), which naturally has bugger all to do with the points they make.
During the recent parliamentary select committee’s questioning of the Murdochs, one of those doing the questioning was the aforementioned Mensch, when she (incorrectly) accused Morgan of phone hacking, using his own memoir as supposed evidence against him. This accusation apparently (I don’t follow him anymore. I think I managed about 24 hours before I found him insufferable) prompted a lot of hysterical tweeting from Morgan, dubbing her “demented” and a “gutless, lying coward”, finally moving on to accusing her of using him to further her career.
This particular accusation riled Tanya, which she used as a springboard to move on to the actual point of how female politicians are typically dismissed with personal jibes, due to their male counterparts feeling threatened by them expressing their opinions and calling them on their bullshit. It’s a shame that she had to detract from this genuine point by interweaving it with more of her asinine opinions about Twitter.
“I can go on about Twitter for days.”
Please don’t. No, seriously.
“Twitter can turn a normal person evil.”
Oh, too late! What’s that? Well quite. These days, nobody notices my highly important updates about my breakfast due to the overwhelming tweets from all those Hitler & Stalin wannabes cluttering up the timeline…
First of all, I’m not going to deny that there are some prize plonkers on the Internet, you only need glance at the comments section of any random YouTube video and it’ll make you weep for the future of mankind, but to say that a website which is little more than a chatting platform causes otherwise normal people to lose their shit and turn evil is actually quite insane. It’s also quite untrue.
Tanya seems to justify this ridiculous claim by saying it was making her evil, ergo it must make everyone evil:
“…like the ring in The Lord Of The Rings, [Twitter] made me want to do evil. When an opinion that I disagree with was tweeted, in a way I didn’t like, I found myself fantasising about committing random acts of violence on strangers, which is objectively a waste of time.”
Yep; because, really, if you can’t follow through with your psychologically-unhinged fantasies WHAT IS THE POINT?! Here’s a thought, Tanya: perhaps you had problems before you joined Twitter? Likewise, Piers Morgan. Is anyone actually surprised that Piers Morgan comes across as a bit of a conceited, self-aggrandising muppet on Twitter? Does anyone think it’s the evil influences of Twitter that’s making him appear like that? Don’t all speak at once, guys…
Again, I’m not implying that people’s tweets don’t have the ability to be intermittently irksome, but variety is the spice of life and all that tiresome jazz. Healthy disagreement with constructive critiquing is a good thing and can lead to an enjoyable debate. If you’re the sort of person who easily gets wound up on Twitter, you’re also, I would suggest, likely to be the same sort who gets easily wound up in person, during a face-to-face conversation. Tanya is passing the buck by blaming Twitter for her own shortcomings.
Unintentionally, Tanya does however highlight one of the problems with Twitter, or rather more specifically, any text-based conversations, particularly if you aren’t well acquainted with the person’s intonation and vernacular. Within the space of the same paragraph, Tanya claims Piers Morgan “exploded with self-righteous fury” in his responses to Louise Mensch’s accusations, but also that “[this] may have been ironic, but probably wasn’t“; so which is it? Her use of “may” and “probably” doesn’t exactly cement her line of argument.
Piers Morgan strikes me as someone who would childishly use contentious language to provoke a reaction in someone, you only need see the lame Twitter banter he has with entrepreneur, star of “The Apprentice” and professional grouch, Sir Alan Sugar, to see his level. Morgan’s background as ex-editor of some of the UK’s major tabloid newspapers will have provided him with an awareness of how language can be used and abused to garner reactions.
It’s a shame Tanya mentioned Twitter at all, as it was superfluous to the point she was making and negatively impacted on her article to any tweeters, such as myself, who may read it. Her article merely perpetuates the idea that Twitter is a stupid idea, when really it has the potential to be (and frequently is) an extremely fun social networking tool. She really could do with forgetting about Twitter altogether, as clearly she doesn’t get it and whenever she brings it up she comes across as a bit of a fool, to put it mildly.
Generally speaking, any social networking tool is only as good as the people using it. In my opinion MySpace started to go downhill when there was an over-abundance of horrific page customisations which revealed that some people just didn’t understand the concept of “enough”, or alternatively that inducing brain haemorrhages is an undiscovered pastime of the wider Internet community. Then Facebook came along, which was clean, simple and felt more private (little did we know), but lately it seems to be full of moronic games involving farm animals or “throwing” things at each other, not to mention the copious amounts of status updates involving people’s new babies. In both these circumstances it is the people who are responsible for the reduced appeal of these sites, not the site itself.
One of the great things about Twitter is that it encourages brevity and exactness, encouraging users to be very efficient with their word usage. This often leads to punchy one-liners and zinging jokes from expert manipulators of language. Below is an example of this and a tweet that I feel encapsulates the most important thing to remember when talking about any form of social networking, so I shall let it conclude this post: