Friday, 11 January 2013
I have written here many times about the lack of basic courtesy that is often Twitter's hallmark.
I have been guilty many times. I have so enjoyed making fun of Danny (Beaker) Alexander. So many times in fact that I feel perhaps I should be paying him royalties. I am afraid I have also let my spite go to extremes when the nonsense of Govian education policy bites us once again. So because I don't know these people personally, I have been rude but hopefully not offensive?
Trouble is, once you meet people here, or at least talk to them in thoughts bigger than 140 characters, it becomes harder to be merely rude at their expense. It's that basic courtesy thing. Also just because you disagree on politics doesn't mean you won't share a love for John Martyn, Western Cape Pinotage or Anne Tyler.
So I have talked at length with some politicians, bloggers and educationists whose views on the Tory road to the future I violently disagree with. Isn't it better to state your view, correct theirs where you can but continue the conversation?
I love finding the slightly acidic quote or picture that backs up my gut feelings and gets others looking and commenting too.
I also feel we all need to be aware of criticism and adapt our own comments and views when someone takes the trouble to point out mistakes, or misinterpretations. Sometimes we should just keep quiet.
Recently lots of people were tweeting about something Churchill is supposed to have said re. the Arts. You know the one - "What then are we fighting for?" Trouble is I used that a long time ago and many people came back and told me that this was one of those myths we all like to pass on. Didn't jump up and correct because the underlying thought resonated, Tory Arts cuts are counter-productive.
Bit like the myth that I still repeat even though people tell me it is apocryphal. The one about the Tory Cabinet minister forced to travel on London Underground for the very first time? The story goes that he asked his secretary to book him into the Dining Car. Works, because we all feel that the cabinet millionaires just aren't aware of what ordinary people experience. And no, it wasn't Boris Johnson.
So, I want to listen, be amused, be engaged and occasionally be corrected. And like almost everyone else on Twitter, I want to be loved too.
But the people who go out of their way to insult and criticise without explanation of their own views should simply be blocked.
Twitter is an amazing medium for ordinary people who do not have access to a newspaper column, radio programme or TV spot. When I comment on the work of an author, directly to that author via Twitter, I am privileged if they respond. Even more so when they are interested enough in what I say to follow me here.
When a politician responds I can be blunt but I don't agree with insults just to provoke that response.
As an ex teacher, and someone who has worked within education all my life, I prefer the staffroom discussion to the playground brawl.