Twitter is not news

I am surprised at the Irish Times.

This once respected newssheet published an article over the weekend which belongs more on the pages of some grotty tabloid.

Support grows for Ruby Walsh after death threats

Now Ruby Walsh is apparently a jockey and not a hooker or a pole dancer as the name might imply.  And apparently he made some comment about euthanasing a horse and dismissing the horse as "just an animal" or some such.

This is not news.  It's some nonentity showing disregard for animal life but that's all.  Ignore it and move on.

But where the Times really sets its sights low is in reporting what people said on Twitter, and misrepresenting what they said as well.

Look at the headline – "death threats"?  Where are the death threats?  They quote a few lines but none of them are "death threats".  Some apparently said they hoped he would die in a fall, or that his skull was crushed.  Now this is the level of reaction I have come to expect from the bile and knee-jerk reactions you see on Twitter daily.  It is puerile wishful thinking but it is not a death threat.  "I am going to kill you" is a death threat, whereas "I hope you die" isn't, and I am more than surprised at the Times not knowing the difference.

If someone said on Twitter that they were going to kill me, would I take that as a "death threat"?  In the strict sense it is, because it shows deliberate intent but would I worry?  No, because it would more than likely have been sent by a ten year old in Australia or somewhere equally distant.  I would only take such a statement seriously if it were sent by someone I know is a local psychopath.

When are people going to realise that Twitter is the playground of the knee-jerk reaction?  Often the opinions expressed are as shallow as the intellects that publish them.  Counting "tweets" does not constitute "support" or otherwise.

There is one thing that Ruby Walsh is quoted as saying that I agree with though –

There’s a big difference between you going home tonight and something’s happened to your dog, and you go home tonight and something’s happened to one of your kids. There’s a huge difference.

There is a huge difference all right.

I would be devastated if I came home to find something had happened to my dog.

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Twitter is not news — 5 Comments


    However, there are some devastating threats that could be made over social media. For example Grandad, were I to write that I had the intention to visit darkest Wickla' and met up with you with a view to a kiss, I could see you rightly rushing for the bottle of something in the strong drink line. 

    These things are not to be taken lightly. Why, I was in France not two weeks ago and a large bearded male made for me with the intent that an actual kiss should take place between us. I have not been right since and no actual threat either to warn me in advance!!!!

    Puts the light-hearted threat of murder in perspective though.

    • I think my qualification of "local" and "psychopath" would cover that eventuality? Maybe I should include "pervert" as well?

      You have to be careful of the French  They do tend to be a little touchy feely but trick is to turn that to your advantage.  You should have pounced a couple of fine looking women? 

  2. That remark about putting down a horse got onto the front page because it was a slow news day. It was also something to do with the media mania for correctitude. The correctitudinarians in this case were expressing their love for animals and saying we all should adopt the same attitude and language. Beware of attitudinarian correctitudinarianism. The constant imposition of correct language is an insidious threat to free thinking in today's world. Incidentally, it has always been the practice in the horsey world for veterinary surgeons to put down a badly injured horse; so what's news?

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