I'VE BEEN ON TWITTER SINCE 2009. I use it to post comments, observations, criticisms, links, the occasional lame joke, promote this blog and, of course, keep abreast of what everybody else is talking about. I like the cut and thrust of Twitter, free as it is from political 'constraint' by the corporate media.
I also use it to communicate directly with comrades both here and overseas. I'm not so technologically jaded as to still not get a buzz from messaging someone, say in Chicago or London, and receiving a reply barely a minute later.
Britney Spears has some 43 million followers and I have a little way to go before I catch up with her. Last time I looked I had some 498 followers. I understand that if you hit the 500 mark then you are doing well, but I've never considered Twitter to be some kind of inane popularity contest. Otherwise I would have changed my name to Kim Kardashian and I would posting tweets about my favourite New York restaurants.But I may possibly post the occasional bad-tempered comment about another diabolical performance from Newcastle United.
Despite the fact that he is also active on it, Newstalk ZB's Chris Lynch has a far less positive view of Twitter. While I embrace it, he seems to want to hold it at arms length. He wrote about Twitter in the local Christchurch freebie The Star recently (September 16):
"Twitter is becoming the comfort food for the socially awkward, the echo chamber for the politically pissed of, and the psychologically needy. The intense human emotion of reassurance has driven serial tweeters to seek familiarity off like-minded souls."
He could well be describing talkback radio don't you think? If Twitter is that bad you kind of wonder why Lynch hasn't closed his account by now.
But we quickly discover what Lynch's real grievance is. He thinks Twitter has become the preserve of the left which decides what is or isn't acceptable comment 'and anyone with a different opinion must be vilified'.
Its superbly ironic that Lynch should hold this view when his own radio station, Newstalk ZB, pumps out a consistent right wing world view 24/7 and hosts like Mike Hosking and Larry Williams regularly attack liberals and lefties alike. But Chris Lynch, that champion of free speech, has nothing to say about this.
Lynch has apparently been reading The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech by evangelical Christian and Fox News contributor Kirsten Powers. She claims that the left has an intolerance for dissenting views. Lynch quotes her:
'...an alarming level of intolerance emanates from the left side of the political spectrum toward people who express views that don't hew to the 'settled' liberal world view...Anyone who doesn't share the far left's views are publicly demonised.'
The problem that Lynch shares with Powers is that he thinks that criticism is censorship. It might be news to Lynch but the right to free speech does not mean you also have the right not to be criticised. Criticism is not a violation of Chris Lynch's democratic rights.
As a talkback host I would have thought Lynch would have been well aware of the consequences of free speech. They include criticism, condemnation, vilification, lampooning and ridicule. These are the consequences of other people exercising their own right to free speech. That's the way it works. Is Lynch saying this is wrong? Is he really expecting that his comments be met merely by an appreciative round of quiet applause?
Lynch has had a go at me on Twitter but I'm not about to throw up my arms and cry that I'm being vilified. Chris Lynch is quite welcome to say what he likes. As am I.
If Lynch can't cope with this he can always confine himself to Facebook which he thinks is 'a more sincere experience'. Presumably because he can delete all those comments on his page that he doesn't agree with or like.