Why it pays to have a quiet week on Twitter

spawn-of-the-devilIn spite of the furore over Nick Griffin’s appearance on last night’s Question Time and the running commentary provided by almost everyone I know during the show’s broadcast, it’s been a quiet week on Twitter.

Quiet, that is, when you compare it to last week. There has been acres of web space devoted to the double whammy of Twitter-power in the previous 7 days.

First, there was the now infamous Twitter campaign to embarrass lawyers Carter Ruck and their client Trafigura to lift the quite bewildering gag order on reporting in the House Of Commons.

Being part of the constant Twitterthon on Tuesday felt rather special. It was like going on a student demo without leaving the comfort of your own living room. Populace action using the web in a way that had previously been unimaginable.

And the Twitter community had only just recovered, when the second huge ‘scandal’ of the week erupted. Namely, the now equally infamous Daily Mail article, penned by Jan Moir about the ‘strange, lonely and troubling death’ of Stephen Gately.

My partner read it very early on Friday morning and said, rather presciently, ‘That’s going to cause a bit of a stink’. Too right – a stench that Jan Moir herself and the Daily Mail could never have imagined.

In an even greater show of strength than the earlier Trafigura moment, the Twitterverse went into meltdown. The level of astonishment at the column’s content was quite something to behold.

When a friend of mine tweeted that Moir had quite rightly breached the PCC code and forwarded the message to Derren Brown, the die was cast. His retweet flooded Twitter and the PCC was deluged with complaints – in itself a delicious irony given the relentless Daily Mail campaign against Ross and Brand last year – a number that currently stands at around 25,000.

Every development was noted. When the article headline changed and the ads were removed, tweets went round everywhere. When Charlie Brooker published his comment on the whole sorry saga, a link to his article achieved almost equal saturation.

But all good things come to an end. At lunch the other day with some friends, we noted how quiet it had been on Twitter this week, in comparison to the fire and brimstone of the previous seven days.

And we all agreed that actually a quiet week was actually really important. A sense of order and decorum has returned. Changing the world, or at least a couple of small parts of it, takes energy and emotion that cannot be continuously maintained.

Twitter needs time to gather itself before the next assault on freedom of speech and the erosion of liberal values. Let us get our breath back!

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