…or the one phrase they you will never see in 140 characters
Ever since I tweeted some light -hearted comments concerning Liverpool’s ongoing search for the glory years following last month’s sacking of manager, Roy Hodgson, I´ve been aware of the polarizing nature of the 140 character medium. I simply pointed out that (ex Manchester United on pitch legend (and off pitch clown!)) Roy Keane was currently available to fill any managerial vacancy. Within a few hours my in box was full of the most obscene venom and I was forced to clean my account of unwanted followers.
More so than blogs, Twitter does encourage confrontation and the exchange of opposing views; but it is not really a medium for discussion.
Worse though than venom and more pervasive than outright confrontation is the trend towards extreme political correctness (PC) on Twitter which kills any type of reasoned argument or exchange of views stone dead.
There have been a number of instances of “PC mob mentality” in recent weeks, including the excoriation and subsequent dismissal of Sky Sports football pundits, Andy Gray and Richard Keys. Gray was caught off camera (but on microphone) questioning the ability of a female linesman (and women in general) to understand the rules of football. Keys’ misogynism was exposed off air (but on camera) in a verbal tirade concerning an ex girlfriend of a fellow commentator, Jamie Rednapp.
The resulting wave of opprobrium across all media proved irresistible and both commentators were out of work by the end of the week. Twitter was at the forefront of the campaign to oust them citing their sexist, insulting behaviour as unfit and inappropriate for modern broadcast.
However, it’s not quite as simple as that; I suspect that Sky’s reaction and subsequent dismissal of Gray was more a reaction to the “PC mob” in full cry over Twitter. The issue surely merited a more analytical assessment than possible in 140 characters…
What was Sky´s real agenda; for a broadcaster comfortable with using attractive presenters to boost viewing figures, I’m not sure that the “moral indignation” card is entirely credible?
How do the alleged “victims” of these attitudes feel? to date there have been no interviews with the female referee in question (Sian Massey) or the ex girlfriend referred to by Keys?
Did anyone ever actually listen to either Keys or Gray in any capacity? Given the level of credibility both of them seem to enjoy (even on football-related matters) a more pertinent debate could have concerned their reputed €1 million+ salaries to impersonate a couple of pub bores who most sports fans (and probably all women) would pay good money to avoid.
But alas Twitter does not provision such debate; it is simply heroes or villains, black or white, angels or devils and nothing in between, with political correctness acting as the final arbiter. That’s the thing about Twitter; once the moral majority (or even minority) take hold of an issue there is no room for debate. That’s because in 140 characters, at least, one phrase remains absolutely taboo . . . “I’m not sure about . . . .”
Back to Sky Sports, political correctness and the unfortunate Richard Keys; a brief return to Key’s diatribe could offer an alternative insight: “Mind you, that’s a stupid question, if you were anywhere near it, you definitely smashed it. You could have gone round there any night and found Redknapp hanging out the back of it . . .” (“It” referring to Mr Rednapp’s erstwhile partner).
Keys appears to be suffering from an acute form of Tourette’s syndrome, there can be no other explanation. Given that Keys is gallantly battling on in the face of a medical condition we should be defending him – or Twitter’s PC mob should. In 140 character terms, he is the real victim after all.