Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Reconsidering My Position

This week I have read 2 apparently unrelated tweets. The first from the eternally bizarre & occasionally wise @cartblanch.
He directed me to this video

Now I have a lot of time for Stephen Fry and whilst I will probably still correct people, it did make me look at the tweet below from Greg Stekelman, aka @themanwhofell from a different angle.

"Fuck hashtags. If people can't tell what you're writing about without having it signposted, you've failed as a writer

Normally this type of thing would have passed by as I skipped to his next amusing tweet or drawing, but in light of the Fry speech, I started to think about what that tweet actually meant. Initially the arrogance & sense of entitlement on display left me unable to formulate a coherent response. It did occur briefly that @themanwhofell may have been trying to make some larger point about twitter and language but if he was, he has in my opinion, failed. The irony of which tickled me.

What Mr Stekelman seems to be inferring is that Twitter should be some sort of writer's game preserve, where only those who are willing to follow the rules set by an elitist few are allowed in. I have never heard such a barrel of arse nuggets. I am not a writer, although I like to think I can, on occasion, put the English language to decent use. I have, more than once, used hashtags for my own ends, usually in an attempt at humor. Does that mean that I should be ejected from twitter? Should the millions of users who employ hashtags daily be barred from expressing themselves online? No, of course not, any more than those who use slang should have their mouths stitched shut.

The phrase that irked me the most is 'failed as a writer'. Most of the twitter users are not writers, they are a network of people communicating in a manner that makes sense to them. We will spell things incorrectly, split infinitives, use wrong grammar and generally behave like the schmoes we are. To suggest, even briefly that this usage is somehow less valid than any your output is sneering pomposity of the highest order.

Secondly, the internet represents an explosion in the evolution of language. Hashtags, retweets whatever, they now form part of the common parlance of a large number of people. To remove yourself from this evolution on the grounds of "that's not how its done" is the worst kind of snobbery and denies you a new and refreshing experience almost every day.

So, Mr Stekelman, I have unfollowed you. I'm sure you don't care with your many followers, celebrity status and proper sense of English, but to me your work is ruined.

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