UPDATE: Shortly after publishing this post, Stephen Fry decided to block me. I have no idea why he felt this was a necessary course of action, but it nicely underlines one of the main points I’ve made in this piece and consistently since Twittercism started: that being, how theÂ naivetyÂ of celebrities in these largely uncharted waters of one-to-many online social interaction with the (shudder) public is as much to blame for any negative attention they receive as the ill-will of the collected masses.
I have no idea if Fry read my piece, or simply felt I posed enough of a threat by daring to mention Alan Davies in a negative light (one hopes he was proactive and actually did a bit of detective work). And being frank, I’m not sure it really matters: by blocking me, it’s essentially the same as if he’d left Twitter and never returned, as he briefly proposed to do. Twitter, for me, is now a no-Fry zone.
You’ve no doubt been following the furore surrounding Stephen Fry’s announcement that he was considering leaving Twitter, after a user declared him to be ‘boring’.
There’s actually more praise than criticism within that tweet, but one thing you can never do to a working celebrity is announce that they are dull. Fry, who suffers from bipolar disorder and was in his own words in quite a low mood, took the communication very much to heart.
A full 12 hours passed between this last tweet and his next, and in this time his fans and supporters went a little bit… crazy. @brumplum was repeatedly and at times viciously attacked by hundreds of people on the Twitter network.
These outbursts included the participation of Fry celebrity chum and QI contestant Alan Davies, who after stating that @brumplum was a moron, then went on a mad tirade at anybody who dared to pick him up on it.
It made for unpleasant reading.
Dickheads, halfwits and pricks, oh my!
One can only assume that Davies was very drunk at a very boring Halloween party, but there’s really no excuse for such a display. And the openness of a network such as Twitter means it’s very hard to undo something like this. This isn’t the cuddly, slightly dim-witted but loveable Alan Davies we know from the telly; this is somebody very different. Somebody with a bit of a nasty streak. It’s generally accepted his turn on QI is something of an act, and one which he has bore with increasing chagrin, and this kind of behaviour would support that.
Subsequently, Fry has returned to Twitter, seen the reaction to his ill-considered words, and duly apologised to @brumplum, and many others have also come to the latter’s support. Many, including the media, have been slow to pick up on this latest news. I hope this will be a temporary measure. Although one can absolutely understand how the very famous users of social media must be overwhelmed with negative commentary and jibes, putting your fingers in your ears isn’t the most proactive way forward.
You would think with his experience Fry would be a little more savvy, and I would hope that in time he will learn to embrace the network wholeheartedly, as he did before.
As for Alan Davies, it remains to be seen what will happen with him. He’s publicly lost the plot before, of course, but somehow emerged from a rather unpleasant incident with his reputation relatively intact. Despite the hype, Twitter doesn’t bleed completely into ‘real life’, but the public only gives the famous so many chances. It’s been a full 12 hours since he lasted updated his status, and it will be interesting to see if, like Fry, he returns to Twitter in full back-pedal mode, or continues to go on the attack.