Belfast Telegraph

Why Twitter is great way to kick those that we hate

By Harriert Walker

Half the time, when you click a link on Twitter, you don't know what cyber-horrors you'll face. So when Lily Cooper, née Allen, simply posted the word "vomit" earlier this week, the accompanying picture could have been anything.

Mrs Cooper is pregnant, as she keeps reminding us, so she could have just been tweeting very literally.

As it was, she shared with the world a brilliant picture of the Prime Minister, resplendent with little Florence in a BabyBjorn strapped to his front, chatting with Messrs Jeremy Clarkson and Alex James at an event in a field. Vomit indeed.

Twitter has been held up as many things - a voice for the masses, a weapon of insurrection - but its greatest strength lies in its exponential capacity for quotidian, workaday scorn and the undermining of those in authority.

Rallying calls to gather in Tahrir Square are one way of forcing political change, but the constant drip of contempt and ridicule supplied from office desks, bus journeys and idle hands proves just as corrosive.

Witness John Prescott's sustained attacks on Louise Mensch and the ensuing rush to join in, or even the widely vocalised (twocalised?) outrage when ex-Big Brother contestant Kenneth Tong began tweeting pro-anorexic jibes as part of what he subsequently protested was a "social experiment".

You see, opprobrium on Twitter is as limitless as the cyberspace in which it exists - partly because saying hateful things to somebody whose tearful reaction you will never see is always easier, and partly because Twitter's often sociopathic users are enthusiastic about piling into a fight and kicking a man when he's down.

But the more constructive lesson to take from the 37,190 views (and counting) of Lily Cooper's "vomit" photo is not "here is a forum for outpouring hate and bile - even for organising riots", but rather "here is a forum where people can share their views in ever greater and more effective numbers".

Here is the tool the last Tory government's forgotten generation did not have.

Here is the new Spitting Image for cynical youths.

And Lily Cooper is - despite an interview last week in which she said she had always wanted to be a housewife - one of its most positive enforcers, with her regular and iconoclastic outbursts.

Her casual "vomit" is worth a hundred anti-cuts marches, depressing as that may be, because more people will pay attention, more people will understand.

And they won't be put off by anything as overtly boring or apathy-inducing as a label of "politics". Sad but true.

No, this terribly, but wonderfully, succinct tweet says all you need to know: that the sight of our Prime Minister jollying his poor innocent child as he talks to the misogynist and cultural chasm that is Jeremy Clarkson, and a rock star who now makes cheese at gatherings, while the country stands at the brink of financial collapse and the Chancellor is accused of collaborating with phone hackers should make you bring up your breakfast, rather than think "my goodness, what safe hands we're in".

There's an entire demographic of victims under the current regime - from the fully qualified but unemployed to those £27,000 in debt before they've even grown into adulthood - who haven't had a voice or a chance.

Baby boomers have their houses, they have their retirement and their second homes, they will strike for their pensions and then take the money and run.

The rest of us are stuck with whatever's left - but at least we have Twitter to publicise our disgruntlement.

So keep everyday scorn coming - it's no Tahrir Square, but it adds up to regime change eventually.

I'm off to retweet Lily's comment. Vomit.

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