Those 140 little characters, perfect for getting to the point. Perfect for sharing. Perfect in this time of bullet point explanations in our mile a minute society.
Yep, for those of you that know me, you know I’m a big fan of the micro-blogging site Twitter. As soon as I saw it in action in 2008, I knew it would grow and attract millions.
I’m an information junkie, a resource sharing, technology and society learning, walking talking encyclopedia of facts and knowledge about the use of technology and society’s future. Let me translate in TwitterSpeak: “Early Adopter, who is passionate about learning and sharing information about technology, society and our future.”
While I love it for all those reasons and more, I also knew about the dark side that would soon appear when it reached critical mass. Human nature has a way of showing its dark side with or without accountability for its actions. Always has and I think it always will.
When you live, work and breathe technology for decades like I have, you see the stuff that is not always public to the masses. You see the virtual fights that start up over a difference of opinion and you see the nasty behavior of those who feel shielded behind a keyboard. Years ago it was almost always done behind an alias that would take a while to track to a person’s name.
So along comes Facebook, and they required “real” names and “real” email accounts. Once that started to become the norm you could see the shift hitting the web. People started using real names and real connections to themselves.
Now we have virtual fights happening everywhere, but more and more frequently on Twitter. It starts as simply as one person who says the mildest things about a celebrity, and are attacked by folks who believe these celebrities to be demi-gods of our society. I mention this due to the crazy event that has happened over the last few days on Twitter.
Stephen Fry is a celebrity in Europe and throughout the World. He is also one of the most celebrated godfather’s of British twitters. Finally, he is a self-admitted individual who suffers from a bipolar disorder.
And so it started. What appear to be mild exchanges between a celebrity and a fan; turned into several internationally reported articles from the mainstream world press. While also tumbling out of control with anger, hatred and bile in the Tweetesphere for days.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8335793.stm – Fry ponders leaving Twitter sitehttp://newsforums.bbc.co.uk/nol/thread.jspa?forumID=7178&edition=2&ttl=20091101134401
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8336425.stm – Fry ends row with Twitter critic
STEPHEN FRY: @brumplum whereas yours are so fascinating I can barely contain my fluids.
RICHARD: @stephenfry I shall have to put more effort into fluid-extraction! *blushes at the thought of S.F. reading my wibbles*
RICHARD: My life is complete, @stephenfry has @ replied me, rapidly followed by blocking me. My previous comment clearly hit him hard. Sorry.
STEPHEN FRY: @brumplum You’ve convinced me. I’m obviously not good enough. I retire from Twitter henceforward. Bye everyone.
STEPHEN FRY: Think I may have to give up on Twitter. Too much aggression and unkindness around. Pity. Well, it’s been fun.
Richard was besieged on his blog, twitter and email from fans of Stephen’s worldwide. The BBC picked up the story, radio stations and talk stations picked it up. Stephen was going to quit Twitter and it was all due to one comment.
Hours went by and Twitter was awash with the shock and anger generally used during a mob rush over human right infractions. A Twitter Storm erupted and it appeared folks couldn’t be meaner or nastier if they were screaming at each other at a KKK rally in the Deep South.
Two days later and people are still adding comments about the incident, releasing steady streams of anger, frustration and bile. The two primary individuals involved however, have apologized and moved on. It’s only the captive audience of folks out there that can’t move on.
It’s official in my mind; the lid is officially off our ids. What is the id you might ask? It’s one of the parts of how our personalities develop according to Freud; “ The id wants whatever feels good at the time, with no consideration for the reality of the situation.”
You can expect to see more and more virtual exchanges that have mobfeed mentality erupt. Only in the future, you will also see someone who doesn’t have any self-control or control of their own disorder, eventually harm another person over it. Someone who will combine their internal conflicts with the mobfeed mentality and will track down the person who they perceive did them harm. As we continue to live our lives in public, expect all aspects of the dark side within to start to surface as we continue evolving with the use of technology.
I guarantee it. Laws haven’t kept up, social etiquette hasn’t kept up, foundation building in our youth hasn’t kept up and the organizations leading the way haven’t done so with any morale compass. Why would society as a whole when the foundation needs such drastic repair?
We are reaching a tipping point in society, a point in which it might be too late to turn it around. What are you going to do about it? Who are you going to start the conversation with to start turning it around? Do you even notice or care?