It was an interesting Saturday morning on my twitter timeline: having posted my daily review of the day’s play in the 4th test of the Ashes series I received a tweet from a follower that alleged that I had plagiarised the title of my posting from a well known sports site and then had my character assessed by my accuser has having “something seriously wrong” with it.
When I launched a full throated defence of myself (as is my right) and in doing so, I concede, broke what appears to be first rule of twitter (which is: thou shalt not defend one’s self) I found my timeline full of comment about my personality, my genitalia and my sexual preference among other things. Those who had not attacked me had questioned whether I was being a bit precious in my response and I concede that I may have overreacted. That said, as someone who is proud of the writing that I do, whilst acknowledging that I am an amateur, to accuse me of copying someone elses work was something that I was not going to leave undefended.
The spat of Saturday morning would probably not warrant any further comment, save that my accuser was one of the seemingly popular parody accounts that have become more and more prevalent in twitter and the circles I follow thereon. Equally, many of the supporters of my accuser, including the one who suggested that I was devoid of male genitalia, the one who suggested I had had no father figure and the one who suggested that I might enjoy an act of intercourse with 2 English cricketers were also parody accounts.
Therein lies the point for me, and the reason I have chosen to comment further on Saturday’s events, solely because I deigned to defend myself I found myself the object of attack and derision by a group of social media accounts run by people who lack the courage to actually put their own name to their opinions or accusations. I concede that the ideology of a parody account is to make fun of the personality of the person being parodied but the suggestion that just because someone operates a parody account that makes it ok for the operator of said account to “say whatever the f*ck they want” (as was suggested to me on Saturday) both irritates and saddens me.
The fact is that to “parody” is, as defined, to provide a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing or to undertake any humorous, satirical, or burlesque imitation, of a person or event. That does not extend, on any reading of the definition of the term, to the undertaker of a parody attacking personally anyone who deigns to respond in a critical way to the parody or one who defends themself from just about as scurrulous an allegation that can be made against a writer, no matter how amateur. There are is nothing humorous or satirical about such conduct.
I, to be honest, had always enjoyed the satirical comments made by the parody accounts I followed particularly with respect to live sport being watched however, just because an account is a “parody” ought not mean that said parody ought show a flagrant disregard for the usual conventions of human interaction and then attack people who push back at them when they do so.
Having opinions and receiving criticism for said opinions is part and parcel of being on social media; indeed social media would be a boring exercise if people did not have opinions. I will no doubt become the object of scorn for being thin-skinned in writing this blog but that is simply indicative of the mindset of those who chose to parody and then attack without putting their own names to their opinion.
So I will finish this post with a challenge: if you operate a parody account and want to have a crack at me for writing this post then how about you unmask yourself, put your real name to your attack and we can have a proper debate. Afterall, that is what social media ought be about shouldn’t it? An exchange of ideas or opinions among people passionate about a particular issue.