Now the dust has cleared – a little – in the wake of Jan Moir’s Mail article looking at the circumstances surrounding the death of Stephen Gately and the subsequent outpouring of Twitter anger, it’s worth asking what the difference is between Moir’s article, aimed at a certain set of like-minded readers, and the response on Twitter.
However ugly and unpalatable Moir’s insinuations were, there will always be celebrities and personalities in the public eye facing deconstruction, valid or not, and there will always be snarky columnists at the Mail. But it would help, if there is to be a mass outpouring of fury on Twitter in response, if it were more akin to constructive debate; it was disappointing to see that much of the response was simply mass retweeting of a few salient tweets from the likes of Stephen Fry.
It was an effective campaign, certainly, given that the Mail lost a number of high profile advertisers from the online article. But it was very much a case of an angrily bleating herd retweeting a few choice points – in much the same way as Moir’s supporters reiterated her views.
It’s interesting to note that the Mail have run a couple of big articles looking into the Twitter phenomenon over the weekend – they were clearly unsettled by the likes of Marks and Spencer pulling adverts – but I am not sure that, once the dust settles, the Mail will change its modus operandi significantly.
The only way that is likely to happen is if the masses use Twitter to voice their own opinions, rather than just relying on a few informed celebrities to dictate their opinions. The only way Twitter can become a truly democratic tool is if people find their own voice.
It will certainly be interesting to see what Moir has to say on Friday, once the dust has settled, and what reaction her response engenders.