Raging Against the World

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What’s So Wrong About #Twitrelief?

Today a new hashtag on Twitter: #twitrelief

If you look at the hashtag for this new Charity fundraiser from Comic Relief you’ll be surprised that there’s such animosity being raised. There are four basic views:

  1. This is for charity, I love these celebrities and you must too.
  2. This is a tacky idea and I’m expressing my opinion on it
  3. What is Twitrelief? I can’t be bothered to find out for myself, you do it for me, ok?
  4. I’m going to do a very poor joke about Celebrities giving me sexual relief. *Snorts with laughter at own joke*

The idea behind it is this: You bid on eBay for the celebrity you like and if you win they will follow you back on Twitter for 90 days. Some of the celebrities have sweetened the deal by adding extras, but this does not seem to be happening across the board.

So what’s really happening now is a war of words between those who support the idea unwaveringly and those who hate everything it stands for.

In the Pro camp the most repeated sentiment is: it’s for charity, just Shut The F*** Up. If you disagree then just keep your mouth shut.

This for me is problematical. I don’t believe that anything is fine in the name of Charity. To me this is a bad idea which although made with “the best intentions” doesn’t actually do as much as if the Celebrity just said “Hello, please Donate to Comic Relief”. It’s placing the ‘Celebrities’ (and some of them you would raise an eyebrow at) on a plinth creating, as some have said, a cultural apartheid.

You don’t have to stretch your imagination to see these famous people putting a barrier between Slebs and Plebs. There’s very much a “worship us, we’re better than you” ethos here, where they have realised capital can be made by making people pledge to them. We are superior to you because we have careers where we can be on television for up to 8 years. Give money and we just might talk to you! If you’re of a biblical wont, you may see this as making an offering to the gods. Thou shalt not worship craven idols.

But this is a limited 90-day offer. There’s no way of knowing if the celebrity will even read your tweets. You can be sure in the first week of winning that they’ll retweet a token amount just to prove that they are actively reading you. And then again in the last week too, just to show willing. The rest of the time they may not read you at all. They may even use filters so they don’t have to read what you say.

People follow celebrities just for a touch of glamour. Ordinary lives don’t involve going to parties with telly people, exchanging texts with other celebrities. The humdrum normality doesn’t involve, for us, late-night poker sessions and copious amounts of cocaine before trolling off to the Ivy to spend large amounts of money we ‘earned’ doing voiceovers on 30-second TV ads. We don’t all hang about backstage with the latest media-hyped band.

It’s just a dream we have. Maybe we could live that life too? Of course we can’t. We work in insurance or at Asda or perhaps we sell shoes in a high street shop.

Richard Curtis, the man behind Comic Relief doesn’t use twitter at all. But rest assured he’s going to create an account where he will follow his bidder (and presumably only his bidder). For 90 days. And then he’ll swan off never to return. This is what devoted attention your money will get you.

As I said, the Pro Camp are rallying behind a “it’s for Charity” approach. Well that’s a bit of a problem too. Say for instance 1000 people want Nick Frost (you know, the tubby guy from Spaced and Hot Fuzz) to follow them. They keep bidding, £1, £5, £20, £150, etc etc until someone wins for £1100. Brilliant, you think, £1100 to Comic Relief, what a wonderful thing!

Except is isn’t. By the time Comic Relief actually occurs the losing bidders have lost their enthusiasm. “I’ve done my bit, I can’t be bothered to give again.” While this may not be true in all cases, there will be some. Also, this £1100 bid doesn’t come from an ordinary person. The ordinary person cannot afford £1100 with their mortgages, household bills, monthly car payments, council tax, etc etc etc. The only people who will win the follow are those to whom £1100 is spare and can be bandied about willy-nilly.

If you totted up the losing bids the amount could vastly overshadow the £1100. If only the 1000th person wins, 999 bids which add up to a far larger amount have been lost. Someone suggested a raffle, which is a much fairer idea. And it’s so easy to do. All Comic Relief needs to do is set up a website, link it to Paypal and the money could be rolling in. It’s so easy to do and could be done an hour from now. Ask any website designer.

You can’t get a discussion of this on Twitter of course because the “it’s for charity!” people are shouting down any dissent. People are being called “c**ts” and “f**kwits” for daring to be so “mean-spirited” as to find fault with the feckless idea.

My advice to you is to not prop up the celebrities, don’t give them another reason to have an inflated ego. They’re not better than you. In many cases celebrities are very dull tweeters or don’t tweet enough because they are out having exciting lives. You want to do something for charity? Donate instead.

Twitter Twaddle

The internet has been much vaunted as providing real-time updates providing uncensored speech. To some extent it does that, but you have to actively seek out the information you require. And there are literally millions of blogs and sites out there, you can’t possibly check them all. It’s overwhelming.

Twitter has an alternate solution, you sit there and information comes to you. Anything you want to know is piped directly to you by people who are interested. Politics, inventions, news. In many cases by the time News appears on tv or radio (and even that is way ahead of the newspapers) you knew about it a long time earlier on Twitter. It’s Old News.

In many cases Twitter gives the truth about events in such a way that you become aware of how much the MediaTM lies to you. Nowhere was this more clear to me than the recent student protests in London. Even the BBC misled the public with the “Live” ident above the endless loop of what actual few moments of violence there was. But we got tweets from people actually there. They told us what actually was happening {present tense}.

But Twitter has its dumb side too. The people who want to pervert twitter to make it a “business tool” make me sad.

There are many benefits to Twitter, you can inform, debate, commentate on tv, just generally hang out with people far away…

…but then there’s the people who open accounts for their pets. I thought these were the lowest of the “i’m an idiot” end of the spectrum. Then today I found one even worse. They’ve created a twitter account for their two year-old son. I’m not making this up.

  • Oh mummy! Dearest! I have a present for you!”
  • “44444rfrrfrdrddfffftttyttyuyujjyjhmgthjhjytyjjyuyjyjtttttyghhyyty56y65564555tytytyytytytytjyyyuyu778uyytr44444444444t44fffffrrrrrrrrrrrrrr”
  • “cdfrededededdrre3455ghyyhgtweedccfrrfr4rrfrtffvrrfvrfvvfvfvffvvff”
  • “Watching close encounters now. BARRYYYYYYY!!!!!!”

…are just a few of the selection of gems put out by this child parent.

It has 26 followers! Who gets value from this stuff? These 26 people should be slapped, like a hysterical person.

[UPDATE] The mother has just tweeted to her child.  Aaaaaaargh.

Another twit

Well I finally gave in and joined Twitter.  In less than a day I have 7 followers, woo!  I’ve noticed that even d-list celebs don’t reply – boooo, sucks to you.  But follow me and I will follow you, that’s a promise.

I’ve even had my first spat with GuyKawasaki because he has a silly profile.  “Then don’t read my tweets”, quoth Mr K.  Don’t worry, I won’t!


Oh and all of you excited Doctor Who fans, come join the party at #doctorwho and #watersofmars.  Tweetdeck is grand, innit?