Twitter : Saints, and Eye of Sauron

I bet you thought it looked like this:


And by and large that’s what it is. It’s lots of batty people, chattering, chittering, twittering… tumbling after each other, bubbling for attention and LOLs…

… but recently it’s begun to strike me as also, occasionally looking like this:


Attention overload…. excoriating like a baleful eye… if sunlight (encouraged by transparency) is a detergent, then twitter is a magnifying glass… scanning the Mordor that the 20th Century left in its wake, and charring to cinders anything that it deems unfit.

Yesterday it was Carter-Ruck trying to censor the Guardian to protect an alleged polluting oil-trading company… and rolling back about 300 years of constitutional law to do it. Today it’s a bigoted tabloid journalist.


See those keywords? They’re almost all about her. She wrote something mean and homophobic about a young celeb who just died… and The Eye of Sauron has turned on her.

And I’m sure it will blow over as quickly as it started… but Carter-Ruck won’t be the same again. They’ve been over-exposed for all the wrong reasons… and today’s tabloid-journalist? Who knows. Maybe her life will rapidly go back to normal… but the Press Complaints website has crashed under the weight of people… weighing in, and it didn’t even do that with Sacha-Gate with 34000 complainers.

And if anyone tries to google either of these people ever again, what they’ll see is the fallout from the Wrath of Twitter. According to google, this is who they are now… and this is a stain that it’s almost impossible to remove.

Something that’s appeared in both of these screengrabs is @charltonbrooker. He’s a bloke. He writes for the Guardian and is particularly hilarious. Stephen Fry isn’t there, but probably should be, as he attracted attention to both of these incidents. Charlie has got about 75000 followers. Stephen has something approaching a million. It’s hard to tell with twitter… they periodically cull non-active accounts.

Anyway, Stephen is Twitter’s Patron Saint… and Charlie Brooker in England at least… well, not a saint exactly… Not even a Martin Luther… but possibly up that end of the cloisters I’d say. They’re both comedians.

I’m pretty sure it was Stephen Fry who managed to get the (would-be) law changed over the black square thing… NZ’s 3-strikes variant. I went along to the protests… and there was about 100 people there, if that. Stephen however got it in all the papers. He spans two worlds… and it seems, in England (and The Commonwealth) at least, Twitter is filled with the sort of person who maybe likes Charlie Brooker… but definitely like Stephen Fry.

And this is no bad thing. He has wisdom and humanity… and makes these attributes contagious… not entirely dissimilar to the documentary he did about bipolar disorder… accidentally making the condition sound glamourous. He really is that good, LOL. Sob.

My favourite Stephen Fry stories/quotes:

1) On Critics: Said the way he thinks of critics… is imagining them in the queue at the pearly gates… God saying “well what did you do with your life”, and if they’d been something else they might have been able to say “well I was an artist, I painted pictures” or “I was a writer, I wrote plays”. But instead they’d have to say “well actually, I didn’t do anything – I just criticised what other people did”

2) I can remember him talking about Kathy Burke… saying that “there are people who when you see that they’re in a film or a play or something you think “oh good, So-and-so is in it”. Well for me Kathy is one of those people – I always think “Oh good, Kathy is in it”.

It was such a lovely thing to say about someone… and the way he said it… Well, you know – the Stephen Fry charm… and I was left with this feeling of how devastatingly powerful sincere niceness can be. In that moment he soared in my estimation, and he’s never unsoared. I love him.

3) He has this story about someone who survived 9/11… because instead of going to the office that morning, he stopped off to exchange a dreadful shirt that his mother had bought him. Got to work too late to die.

And the way Stephen tells it, is that there must have been a moment previously, when his mother was buying a shirt… thinking of her son, what he would like… trying to imagine… and her hand hovered over the shirt-rail… and in that moment, his life hung in the balance. And she made the wrong choice. And he lived.

So um… yea, as Patron Saints go, I can’t imagine a better one.

I shudder to think who 4Chan has though… because they do this Eye of Sauron stuff as well. They’re what The Eye of Sauron would be like of Gollum owned it.

edit 1 : Charlie Brooker’s Column in the Guardian, about an hour later

edit 2 : Charlie on Twitter asking people to calm down, and not publish home addresses, ten minutes after that

edit 3 : Charlie commenting that “RT @danielmaier: Twitter = wonderful liberal weapon but sometimes I think its logo should be a pitchfork silhouetted by flaming torchlight.” 8 minutes after that.

2 Comments » for Twitter : Saints, and Eye of Sauron
  1. Provocative points. I’m not a bandwagon jumper oner, no tv/movies/mags, etc. Didn’t know about the balloon boy until it was over (and an obvious fame-hungry hoax), so, I use Twitter differently than the fray seems to. It’s not so much a Social-social network for me, more like an anti-social one.

  2. admin says:

    Stephen Fry’s reaction :

    He’s completely right of course – if he started saying things we didn’t like, we’d be pretty quick to tell him. If he says something we do like though, it has the effect of amplifying it. And he does get in the papers… as I say, he strides both worlds – and the world of old-media is still more powerful than the internet.