In the ruins of Pompeii there are walls covered in graffiti. “Claudia is a whore”, “Flavius is a bender” etc. I’m paraphrasing, I know for sure the translation of most of the graffiti is more offensive than that but let’s leave the expletive filled slander to your imagination.
Moving on a few centuries and we’ve got the pub toilet wall or the local bus shelter. Names are called, grafitto is answered to, the abuse becomes more heightened and eventually the toilet door or the bus shelter must becomes replaced or painted over. I remember a park shelter in front of which my dad's pipe band were playing along with a band of overseas visitors. The scene of international bonhomie was shattered somewhat by a massive spray painted message on the otherwise white wall behind them. It read "Willie fuckin' stinks!"
Throughout history we’ve felt the need to vent on record. The new Pompeiian bathhouse wall or the local pub toilet door is Twitter. And it’s the celebrities on it that seem to be wielding the marker pens the most. It’s fascinating to watch. People normally packaged and polished by agents, pr gurus and studio publicity machines are out there, raw and uncensored. And guess what- they are just as petty as the rest of us. Possibly more so.
Lily Allen seems to have led the field in this. It seems that in 140 characters at a time she’s attacked just about everyone. Still I reckon good old Lily would do that to people’s faces anyway. Then earlier this year Jim Carrey trod a very lonely path. He decided to wade in on the side of Tiger Woods in the messy and horrible breakup with his ex-wife Elin Nordgren. Note, this is Jim who earlier that month annouced his own breakup with Jenny McCarthy on Twitter.
Jim went for the scorned wife in a big way. How could Elin not know that her husband was cheating, somehow trying to make Tiger’s former wife look that she was responsible for his adultery because she had not nipped it in the bud soon enough. “No wife is blind enough to miss that much infidelity. Elin had 2 b a willing participant on the ride 4 whatever reason. kids/lifestyle” Carrey wrote on Twitter. Yes because if your husband is whoring about, your lifestyle instantly becomes better all round, Jim.
He went further. According to Jim we should all stop giving Tiger Woods such a hard time because he gave up his childhood to be the great golfer he is today. We should be grateful to him for his sacrifice. Needless to say the toilet wall of twitter became full of angry respondents replies to Jim, who joked “I guess we’re not ready talk about Sandra Bullock” referring to the actress’s husband’s infidelity. Presumably Sandra had brought it on herself. Do you think that Jim would have said all this in a television or magazine interview? Of course not. But anything goes on Twitter.
The majority of people who follow a person on Twitter do not know them in real life. In that way it is different from other social networks. Everyday on Twitter someone is saying something nasty about someone else, not to their face but on their timeline. With no real consequences to them personally. Stephen Fry took the huff and quit Twitter , albeit temporarily, when a correspondent referred to his tweets as “boring”. Even today, there has been a conversation on Twitter between Kirsty Allsop and India Knight about how they are finding the random abuse of Twitter respondents quite hard to take. Knight declares that some people don’t have a “thick enough skin for Twitter”. In response Allsop hints at the fact that she has sometimes thought of closing her account for such reasons.
My first question is, what’s going to be the lava that comes down and destroys this graffiti filled wall that day by day is turning nastier and nastier?
And question 2: do you love this aspect of Twitter or hate it?
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Stop press 1: Kirsty Allsop involved in another spat. This time with Lord Alan Sugar.See here for a screen grab.
Stop Press 2: The Twitter Joke trial has ruled that the throwaway joke comment of Paul Chambers tweeting that if he couldn't get to Ireland to visit a girl he would bomb the airport- clearly a joke-is worthy of punishment.
Stop Press 3: Tory Councillor Gareth Compton makes stupid joke about stoning a female Muslim journalist to death. On twitter.
This all happened today.