Power: Thy Name is Twitter

I almost feel sorry for Tom Etherington. In case you don’t know, he is the editor of Zoo magazine. The same editor who allowed a particularly unpleasant comment by Danny Dyer go unedited.

Now, in the grand scheme of things, not so many people read Zoo. OK, it has a strong following and good circulation. But compared with the number of people using Twitter, for example, we’re talking small fry. So why are these two statistics relevant?

Because Twitterites have got wind of Dyer’s article, have circulated it, and are now publishing Etherinton’s e-mail address encouraging the world and his wife to contact him directly to complain. Danny Dyer is currently a trending topic on Twitter – that means it’s getting around 50+ tweets about it a minute. A minute. Think about it. And that is a pretty small example of a trending topic.

I’m not saying I approve of Dyer’s comment – nor even that I disapprove of people being able to comment directly to the editor. But it is a sign of the power of Twitter – the power of enabling the ordinary man an outlet for reaction – instant, unconsidered reaction – to anything he is shown. And therein lies the danger.

An interesting piece in this month’s Psychologies magazine tells us that the technology age is the proponent of instant communication. Anyone who has worked in an office knows it – everything is immediate these days. Texts are received and sent in a matter of seconds, and e-mails no less fast. We rarely stop to think about what we are doing, and in the heat of the moment can lash out with violent enthusiasm and total disregard for consequence.

I said before that not that many people actually read Zoo. It is a magazine for men. A self-confessed “lad-mag”. I am not condoning it, but having this sudden media spotlight thrown on it will no doubt open the floodgates to people complaining about the general content of it, and before you know it they’ll be asking the government to start editing magazines for fear that controversial subjects might get covered. God forbid anyone is actually allowed to do their own jobs anymore without someill-informed cabinet jobsworth making it their business to set some new bureaucracy around it. OK, I digress, and rant. I shall desist.

But, on the original topic – Twitter is an instant source of news, a real-time debate forum and site wherein enormous influence is wielded. It is the ultimate arena for free speech (as long as you don’t mind every other word you type being targeted by marketing types whose companies instantly start following you in the hope you’ll start talking about how great they are too) And as soon as you find some like-minded people, it ignites. I now check Twitter before news sites to see what’s breaking, and generally trust that information from Twitter is more up to date and, bizarrely, more trustworthy than from virtually any other source. I go there for information about politics, for views on religion, to get guidance on my writing, to share my thoughts and to watch the newest form of entertainment, the live Twitter-offs about TV shows (like the leaders debate)

In the UK we are only just beginning to understand the incendiary nature of the beast. Only touching the very tip of the iceberg – so few people in this country use it to its full extent that most people here don’t get quite “get it” But if they full power of this communication monster is ever unleashed – the world is just never going to shut up.

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~ by DelightingintheDetail on May 5, 2010.

2 Responses to “Power: Thy Name is Twitter”

  1. Ah, yes, I am now seeing the power of Twitter. And oh gosh, do I have to avert my eyes when I serve someone buying Zoo magazine! lol! It’s always typical that the barcode won’t scan, and I’m there, for what feels like forever, trying to get the darn thing to go through the till.

    Good job I wear makeup otherwise I’d blush 😀

  2. Zoo are probably rubbing their hands with glee. No publicity is bad publicity, and if anyone hadn’t heard of Zoo before, they certainly have now. The people who only buy it occasionally will have gone out to buy it specially, just to see, and so their circulation figures will be through the roof this week (month? Not sure how regular it is).

    Not that I’m cynical or anything.

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