In defence of Twitter

There’s more to it than ranting and raving. Libby Purves [£] takes issue with Sarah Vine, Stephen Fry and other disillusioned ex-users:

It is easy to stay civilised on the site: I pass on review topics, interesting links (or, when feeling weak), videos of a dog in Cincinnati Zoo that nurses orphan cheetahs. My last two interactions were typical: an amiable spat with the Times opera critic about David Hare, and mild responses to the snarky types who live poised over their keyboards, daily hoping to take offence at Radio 4. Twitter is not the death of civilisation but a frill on its edge: harmless, sometimes useful. I have read obscure but important articles online only because I was alerted to them by people worth following. When Vine wails that it is “devoid of nutrition and packed with poison” one must wonder at her choices of who to follow and respond to.

So that’s Twitter-for-the-sane. But there is fascination in peering at the nutty bits. Take the saga of Matthew Doyle, a prize berk from Croydon who hit the news boasting that he had “confronted” a random Muslim woman and asked her to explain Brussels. When she replied that it was nothing to do with her, he chortled: “A mealy-mouthed reply.” After a storm of ridicule and some very funny parodies, well worth looking up, Doyle back-pedalled, whining that he didn’t really “confront” her — though that was his own word. But finally he snapped “Who cares if I insulted some towelhead?? Really.” He got arrested for inciting racial hatred, reportedly said he was ill and got taken to hospital, and has now had the charge withdrawn.


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