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Twitter - A School Yard for Adults

This Olympics has been wonderful. I never thought I could be so enthralled by sports like synchronised swimming and, ahem, beach volleyball. Nevertheless, the real highlight of this years Olympics for Ireland were the achievements of our boxers. To bring home four medals from a total possible of six is truly remarkable. The boxers in particular, but all of our athletes truly, did this nation very proud.

It is because of this pride in the achievements of our Olympic heros, that it was with disgust that I read retweets of grossly offensive and bigoted remarks about one of our Olympic heros last week, following his silver medal win. It truly amazes me how idiotic and bigoted people can be in 2012. The "jokes" were nothing short of disgusting, however, grown adults reactions on Twitter, in my opinion, were even more idiotic.

When I read those jokes, I was quick to condemn and point out my distaste at such bigoted remarks. Why people felt the need to focus on one business, "Herbstreet", that continually denied they actually wrote the remarks, for hours and actually days after is what boggles my mind. Not only that but peoples distaste turned into an all out farce, where grown adults disallowed someone a right of reply, where these self righteous people, light on facts, spent hours of their night deliberately concocting hashtags in a bid, to not alone condemn the actions of the business, but also to banish anyone associated with the business, including all its innocent employees, to a Dublin dole queue. It was truly infuriating to read and observe. However, a day later when the storm in a teacup had subsided the wheels started to come off the bandwagon, Herbstreet appeared with a wholehearted apology and an extremely reasonable explanation and it became apparent that hundreds of twitter profiles had in fact told the same idiotic "joke", and yet had not feel the wrath of the Twitter bullies.

This whole debacle has made me question the validity of Twitter as a modern, mature means of communication. I even find it brings out the worst in me sometimes when I react to an issue I feel passionately about. Twitter in Ireland has descended into a school yard for adults. You have the usual hot headed bully types that have disregard for peoples feelings, the facts and the repercussions for their victim, of their bullying. You have the same cliques as in a school yard. One of the most frustrating cliques to observe on a daily basis is not the political clique or even the business owner clique, but in fact the media clique. They are similar to a group of jocks in an American school, only ever allowing time and eyes for their own opinions and that of their pals. They frequently adorn the Twittersphere with their ritual of patting each other on the back post an appearance on some current affairs show or piece in a newspaper. This same clique, just like the jocks have the cheerleaders, have their own form of cheerleaders also - a group of people that hang on every tweet they issue and twist their own opinions to fit with those of their heroes.

You've got the normal decent informative folk, whom are the only reason I still remain on twitter and the odd lunatic (some will say that's me post this piece) but I refer to the extremists on the left - right divide, a small group of individuals who make remarks on twitter and in general either in a misguided belief they are correct or in a bid to be noticed. These would compare to a young child who eats sand, hits their head off the school walls and generally does silly things to be noticed. And last but not least, we have the positive Ireland brigade, a seemingly intelligent bunch of people who regularly disregard facts and outlooks so they can tag their tweet as being "positive". In the real world these people are also known as spin doctors, a group of people with a commercial reason for twisting the truth, lest people forget. I like to think of these as the ultra fake school pupil who overdo affection with their large group of "friends", yet would stick a knife in their back just as quick as they would embrace their "besties". 

In recent weeks I have grown to like Twitter less and less, but more importantly, like myself on there less and less. While I never envisage canceling my account I will be using it less frequently, if for nothing else but to escape the childish medium it has descended into.


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