Just a quick rant to get something that’s been stewing for the last 24 hours out of the system.
Janet Street Porter in yesterdays Indie. Dear Gods. I’ve had little respect for this yawping bray-factory since she sold what tiny fraction of her soul she had left to cosy up to fellow clueless gobshite Gordon Ramsay, but her thunk-piece on Twitter (sound made by my jaw as it hit the table on reading it) couldn’t have missed the mark more if she’d been facing the other way when she shot at it.
Typically ignoring the social and rapid-response attributes that have made Twitter the phenomenon it is, she decided to focus on the fact that it difficult to have a cogent political argument in the 140 character limit the format imposes.
Twitter is not a forum. Twitter is not a place for long, painful dreary conversation and dry discourse. Twitter is a place for jokes, for sharp, short opinion, for staying in touch with your mates, for posting links to cool and interesting stuff on the web, and yes ok it is sometimes the place where you post pics of the gardening owie you inflicted on yourself one morning.
Belittling the #welovethenhs campaign as empty sloganeering is, however, not just rude but lazy. The hashtag was designed as a way for people to show support and demonstrate why the service was so valuable in personal, human terms. The campaign was so successful not purely because of weight of numbers, but because it showed that everyone had a story to tell about the positive experiences they’d had with the NHS. Her sneering at this powerful grass-roots movement simply shows up Street Porter as elitist and out of touch. I should not, therefore, be so angry at her. She’s clearly just an anachronism who’s looking at the future and realising it’s moving just that little bit too fast for her.
Look, Twitter is not about turning sophisticated commentary into OMG UR SO LAME blipblogs. It’s about being able to react quickly and succinctly to the world around you, and having a bit of a laugh while you’re doing it.
Further, the assumption that Twitter is solely the home of air-headed narcissists and vapid ghostwritten celebrity updates shows a paucity of research that would be staggering were it not so unsurprising, given the quality of discourse of the journalist in question. Writers and film-makers like Neil Gaiman and Errol Morris regularly post and update on Twitter, and are as funny and incisive in the micro-blogging format as they are in the day job. There’s a real art to that.
Nothing concentrates the mind like a short word count. Maybe JSP should try it once. Although I seriously doubt she has it in her to make a simple point and then shut the fuck up, no matter how much I might wish it.(you may noticed I’ve not bothered to link to the article in question. Google it if you want to waste five minutes of your valuable time. She’s not getting any link traffic out of me.)