Twitter to me started off as an area for users to innocently follow beautiful and far away things such as celebrities and famous brands. It allowed them to feel as though they had a direct line to their stream of consciousness and this made them feel included. The average Joe then became far more comfortable online, they came to find their own virtual voice. They began to feel like something of a celebrity themselves, believing that people genuinely wanted to know what they had to say. It gave them a feeling of responsibility. Welcome food porn.
It seems like it made actual celebrities or those in the lime light experience a shift in their feelings of responsibility too, in that they began to forget who they were or at least who they were supposed to be. We are now experiencing a wave of the rich and famous treating their twitter accounts like a personal diary. Not only are these tweets being written as if no one else is ever going to lay their eyes on them but it also seems like those writing them are drunk.
Perhaps having to constantly monitor and edit everything they say in everyday life, celebrities are flocking to Twitter as a sort of liberal space in which they are finally free to speak their minds. This should be refreshing and insightful but instead there have been countless cases of tweets which have tastelessly revealed the user as a bit of a bigot dickhead. This does not just involve a bit of harmless ignorance, feeding fans with misinformed opinions about current affairs. It’s something a bit more destructive than this.
Take this years 2012 Olympics as an example. Police have expressed frustration at being dragged into too many ‘twitter crimes’. This is fresh territory for many people and they don’t know how to punish these online offenders. The Olympics only began five days ago and already there have been at least three major incidences and they have all revolved around outrageous outbursts on twitter. A Swiss soccer player was sent home for his surge of anger aimed at the winning North Korean Team. Before this, Greek Olympian, Voula Papachristou was sent home for her attempt at a joke about ‘Africans’ in Greece. Finally, 17 year old Reece Messer was charged with harassment last night for threatening to ‘drown’ Tom Daly, informing him he had “let down” Dalys late father. To think that people are this cruel over what effectively is a game of sport is unnerving but to think that people are dense enough to put this on twitter without fear of repercussion is also cause for concern. You could perhaps introduce stricter regulations within twitter but this removes it’s appeal and the notion of free speech. At the end of the day you can stop people from saying these things but you can’t stop them thinking them. Each apology followed by each twitter controversy seems as manufactured as the people saying them.
Often when the authorities in charge of monitoring Twitter content get involved, innocent people suffer and worst of all- they don’t even get to go on their holidays. There have been an array of cases in which the ‘normal’ people have attempted to share a (non-racist) quip with friends and subsequently been accused with terrorist intent. This is a bit of a wake up call to all those who think twitter is their space, it’s not, it’s only yours if you’re considered to be behaving yourself. Only five days ago, the case of the joke that bombed in robin hood airport was finally put to rest. Here Paul Chambers innocently joked that if his girlfriend didn’t make it through to the airport in the harsh weather conditions that he would bomb the airport. He did not direct this threat at the airport itself but the mere mention of the word bomb was enough to allow the paranoid allegations fly.
Social media is allowing us to be as openly opinionated as ever but not without a cost, it’s so much easier to spread ideas then the days before web 2.0 but also much easier to have these ideas trailed by eyes you don’t know are there.
To ignorant tweeters- shut up, people are reading this
To harmless jokers- stop making bomb jokes, airports don’t find them funny.