I HAVE had a sneak preview of the first day of the Twitter ‘Report Abuse’ button. This is how it went.
100 New Bridge Street, London, 12 noon – New service is switched on.
100 New Bridge Street, London, 12.01pm – Twitter crashes as a maelstrom of easily-offended simpletons hammer away at the button in high dudgeon after some perceived electronic slight.
You see, one woman’s rape threat is another man’s minor disagreement over an offside goal. Without rules on exactly what is and what isn’t regarded as reasonable, the Mr (and Ms) Angrys of this world will be so busy reporting each other for minor infractions that the system just won’t cope.
And isn’t that always the way with any kind of censorship, even the well-meaning sort? Who sets the boundaries? Who decides what can and can’t be printed/published/tweeted? Yes, we have laws to cover many eventualities, but again they are wide open to interpretation by the often inept CPS. (Not that some of the foul nonsense flying about this week can ever be excused.)
Twitter is awash with self important, attention-seeking tossers, myself amongst them. And, in a country where Taking Offence has become the new national sport, it’s a recipe for constant bleating.
You have distinguished lady journalists clutching their skirts and shrieking “Lawks-a-mercy” whenever a 45-year-old lorry driver from Huddersfield who still lives with his mum sticks one hand down his pants and carefully types out an unwelcome suggestion from his darkened, Lynx-whiffy bedroom with the other. You get the professional agitators (bizarrely, usually comedians or writers of comedy) running round rallying a Twittermob carrying flaming pixels to march on a metaphorical Frankenstein’s castle. You get the racists, the deviants, the barking mad and the football fans all spouting bile under the cloak of perceived anonymity. It’s an utter twatfest.
Good God, we even had Today presenter Evan Davis being taken to task yesterday for using the word ‘nutcase’ to describe the people who address bomb and rape threats to women. Apparently it was offensive to nutcases. Now that’s what you’d call a Russian doll of Taking Offence.
It’s time to accept that Twitter, as it is today, is lawless. It is the Wild West with keyboards instead of Colt 45s. It is ungovernable, as is any form of freedom of speech. So if you’re going to expose yourself to its ego-driven eccentricities, then you’re just going to have to live with it.
Get a life people. It’s time to stop moaning and move on.
WHILE we’re talking about online stupidity, whoever thought it was a good idea for your local newspaper website to run its own Royal Baby live blog?
Forgive me, but if I’m temporarily out of range of a million television and radio channels, all seemingly running non-stop coverage of a closed door (and that was more entertaining than watching Kay Burley), then I’m going to go online to the BBC, or the Daily Mail, or Sky News. I am not, under any circumstances, going to rely on the Cleckheaton Chronicle for my breaking international news.
So please tell me, what’s the fucking point?
The Grey Cardigan has been in newspapers since the days of hot metal and expense accounts. After a lengthy career as chief sub on several regional newspapers, plus a multitude of shifts on the nationals, he was appointed editor of the Evening Beast in 2009 before being ignominiously 'rationalised' last year. He is currently collecting gas in jam jars in case the Russians cut us off. @thegreycardigan