Monthly Archives: October 2009

Calm down dear, it’s only a Tweet

It’s been quite a high-tension week in Twitter-land. Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) has been getting quite depressed:

He’s even talking about leaving Twitter:

And it’s all Richard’s (@brumplum) fault:

Although he did later apologise:

Stephen won’t have seen his apology, having blocked him. Stephen did manage to release a little tongue-lashing on poor unsuspecting Richard, mind:

So, what’s happening here? Could it be that celebrities such as Stephen Fry are confusing Twitter with real life? And maybe people have realised that they can hide behind a cloak of relative anonymity to bruise celebrity egos. I could easily write something hurtful or hateful to a celebrity on Twitter, but what would be the point?

Equally, I could do the same in real life, but (a) I wouldn’t have the guts and (b) I don’t actually mix in the sort of circles where I encounter celebrities. (I did once encounter Chris Morris at the bar of a theatre in London during the interval of a performance of “Art”, but what could I say to him apart from “Fact me ‘til I fart”?)

So my advice in this situation is this: @stephenfry: Don’t confuse Twitter with real life and don’t think for a moment that because one person deliberately writes something with the intention of you reading it that we all agree with them. There will be many others (several hundred thousand in your case) who like you, respect you, enjoy your tweets, but don’t write to you to tell you that, because, well it’s not the “done thing” is it, paying people too many compliments, it would go to your head.

And to @brumplum: What was the point of telling @stephenfry that you found his tweets boring? My mother taught me that if I didn’t have anything nice to say, then not to say anything at all. In this case, that would have been the better policy. Nobody can please everybody all of the time, not even Stephen Fry. If you find his tweets boring, just unfollow him or don’t read them. I can see that you’ve apologised and understand that Stephen did over-react, but there was just no need in the first place. I hope Stephen’s fans don’t treat you like Scott Baio’s fans treat the “haters”. (See below.)

Comedy writer and Twitter activist Graham Linehan (@Glinner) has already made his opinions clear on this sort of thing:

As has comedian and writer Richard Herring (@Herring1967):

In this case, the culprit was Paul Carr (@Paul_Carr), who wrote something about Richard’s podcasting co-host Andrew Collins (@CollingsA), something along the line of him being boring, as I recall, (it has since been deleted by its author), but again in this instance, the person involved apologised and thought they were being funny:

So, what shall we say? I can’t help but agree with Graham and Richard. There’s just no point whatsoever in using your newfound proximity to celebrities to goad them by saying things about them which are only designed to hurt them.

In the case of the two individuals whom Graham Linehan blocked, they weren’t directing their insults at him, but he felt offended on their behalf enough to block them. The same could happen to you. And so it should. What’s the point?

I respect Graham and Richard for their stance on such matters, but I do not respect Scott Baio (@RealScottBaio), (I don’t know what he’s famous for, but he appears to be a minor celebrity).

He managed to leverage the power of his following to get someone locked out of their Twitter account. I will spare you the gory details, but if you search for “realscottbaio plz blk” on Twitter, you’ll get the idea. Someone calls him to account on a couple of irregularities in his tax affairs, and he just instructs his followers to block his accuser.

Maybe Twitter isn’t the forum for such things, but telling your followers to block someone, which leads to their account getting locked by Twitter, is an abuse of power. Remember what Uncle Ben says to Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

If you don’t like what someone says to you, you can block them. But if you seek to silence those who disagree with you or say inconvenient or uncomfortable things, then you seek to remove free speech.

And that’s not groovy. Look out for each other, Tweeple.

Quick update: The story has now made the BBC News website.

Second quick update: Stephen Fry is feeling much better, thanks, and seems to have forgiven our hapless young mite:

And they’ve kissed and made up:

Last update (hopefully): The matter is now closed, according to BBC News:

Lastly a Comedy Ending, from @Glinner:




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Goodbye and Good Riddance to Free Evening Newspapers in London

So, only a month after thelondonpaper said tatty-byes, we now have the joyous news that the other free evening rag London Lite is also buggering off. Good riddance! What was “Lite” about it anyway? American spelling aside, what were they trying to convey with a name like that? I don’t think they were trying to declare that their organ was going to be a bastion of insightful editorial and the unwavering vanguard of the Fourth Estate.

No, this was the title that boldly claimed to be printed with ink that didn’t come off on one’s hands; it was also printed with articles that didn’t come off on one’s mind. Their shamelessly content-free nonsense will not be missed by me; they simply acted as carriers for advertisements that people gladly picked up because they were disguised as newspapers. That and they enjoyed doing the Sudoku while trapped on the Northern Line.

I hope now that my daily walk to the tube station on the streets of London will return to the serene journeys they once were, without the need to constantly avoid those ubiquitous free-vendors (frendors?) thrusting their advertorials at me, declaring “Free paper!”.

Having no more need to fight my way past these obstructions, equally the Underground trains will no longer be littered with these sadly discarded publications. Easy come, easy go. Surely nobody believed the lie that they were somehow doing other people a favour by kindly leaving it for them on the tube after having read it and sneezed into it. No, this was littering, plain and simple. They even started to print advertisements pointing out this fact, but these people would have just sneezed onto the advert and carried on regardless.

And once again our beloved but crowded tube trains will return to being the cattle carriages that they once were, the aisles being for the benefit of people standing and not as an extension of the reading rooms of commuters wielding their “thelondonLitepapers” awkwardly, trying to pretend that this isn’t the only newspaper they’ve ever read apart from their Mum’s Daily Mail or Dad’s Telegraph when they go to their parents’ house.

What surprises me is how quickly this has happened: thelondonpaper has only been gone since September and the Evening Standard has only been free for two weeks, after a brief trial of the free-vend model. Having said that, it is owned and run by a Russian ex-spy and we know the Russians despatch their rivals quickly and efficiently.

I expect the Evening Standard to put their cover price back up again, maybe to 60p to really strike fear in the hearts of any other would-be competitors, and we can forget about the whole silly free paper nonsense and move on. If you want to read a newspaper, you pay for it, and if you don’t you don’t. Besides, and I am certainly not on any green bandwagon or anything, but it can’t be good for the enviro- oh you get the idea.

So that was the free newspaper revolution in London. Hello, goodbye. Easy come, easy go.

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