The Twitterati. The word has even made it into the Oxford dictionary. Because nobody ever wrote anything down until humans learnt to dance a jig on double jointed thumbpoint whilst having breakfast with a lover that they havenât spoken to for six months and wonât get round to speaking to until theyâve answered all 112 total strangers whoâve just appeared on their timeline.
The Twitterati live in a different universe to the rest of us. They travel thousands of miles to the Maldives on holiday, but their unseeing eyes are focussed on a small black screen which dances with ever changing 140 characters detailing the minutiae of their âfollowersâ back home in Salford. They go to the Paris Opera, but their unhearing ears are alert to the soft ping which announces another instalment in the life of the office cat back in Birmingham. They dine in the best restaurants, but their lips barely move as they signal âhang on a minuteâ to the waiter whilst those busy thumbs career across the keyboard in answer to the stranger wanting to know the nearest MacDonalds to Moscow. They invented âsextingâ so that they could enjoy the wonder of sexual excitement without ever giving those thumbs a well earned rest.
We had visitors last year; they had travelled thousands of miles to âvisit usâ. They barely spoke to us. They never spoke to each other. They âtweetedâ from either side of the room. At one point they spent the entire afternoon in the Jaccuzzi, mobiles held aloft from the bubbles, twatting away â emerging at dinner time, a pair of perfectly matched shrivelled prunes with carpal tunnel syndrome comparing sun burn â via Twotter naturally.
They spend their entire lives immersed in the opinions â and threats â of anonymous strangers. The answer to many of the worldâs thorniest philosophical questions appears to be a picture of a cat that looks like Hitler. Strange, strange people.
And because they are young, they think they have invented everything. Including insults. And Threats.
Once upon a time, people you really knew, people you met every day, might walk into the school toilet and be met by the message âBarrington-Smthye Junior stinksâ; possibly Barrington-Smythe Junior took this as a hint to take a bath more often; possibly he was left with deep memories of being bullied at school. Older girls who had embraced the call of their hormones more enthusiastically than convention dictated might be treated to the message âJanice Smith gives good headâ; a timely warning to Janice – but I donât remember a clamour to dismantle toilet walls.
Once upon a time, folk would take a spray can of paint and daub âPakis go homeâ on the nearest wall. Was there a popular movement to suspend the manufacture of bricks and mortar?
Once upon a time, folk would light bonfires on the headland to warn smugglers that the customs men were about â was there a Government call to ban flints and faggots on the grounds that âcriminals were making use of themâ.
Now earnest commentators bemoan the âdegeneration of respect for each otherâ, and the early âresort to sexually abusive languageâ as though it had just been invented. The Government frets about criminals warning each other. The New Puritans are permanently on the look out for the merest hint of any comment that ranks below unalloyed praise and support for their favoured groups â âvulnerable victimsâ â otherwise known as women in general; homosexuals â honorary women; and anyone with a suntan that doesnât wash off.
And they call for the dismantling of brick walls, banning of flints and faggots, regulation of Twitter so that it becomes a medium through which only groups approved of by the New Puritans may swap cat pictures expound their philosophy of the universe and breast-feeding techniques. âFluffyTwitâ.
It is, without a doubt, a largely Feminist driven movement. Part of the current obsession with driving young white heterosexual men into oblivion. Stories detailing the tribulations of the unfortunate man in the US whose wife cut off his penis and put it in the garbage disposal unit are whoopingly retweeted â whilst bemoaning (in the regulation 140 characters) the lack of convictions in the UK for female genital mutilation. The Co-op has been cowed into moving âlads magsâ onto a top shelf and then only when hidden behind a plastic bag on the grounds that it is âsexualising young childrenâ and giving them âunrealistic role modelsâ â whilst nobody complains of the bare chested Chipperfield lookalikes advertising on-line Bingo âfor the ladiesâ. We have endless commentary on the Scottish Golf Club that is âmen onlyâ â but where is the clamour for women-only saunas to be shut down?
Men are being quietly corralled into the role previously occupied by prize bulls. Isolated in a field, surrounded by red warning tags, and occasionally led gingerly by the nose to perform the only use anyone can think of for them.
Does anyone know whether there has yet been a settlement in the dissolution of a female civil partnership? Did one lady get to support the other lady for life?