Barraco Barmer

Karl du Fresne in a column in the DominionPost, alerts us to the Twitter feed of Gemma Worrall, a hairdresser from Blackpool, who wrote that it was scary “our President Barraco Barmer” was tangling with Russia.
Du Fresne sees this error as a fault of he new social media that Worrall and her ilk can express these ill informed opinions instantly, easily and have these opinions widely disseminated.
My first observation is that by writing about Gemma Worrall’s tweet, Karl du Fresne is contributing to the process he claims to dislike – disseminating her opinions to a still wider audience than her followers on Twitter. I’m sure the circulation of the DominionPost is much larger.
Du Fresne is a professional journalist and journalists have a love hate relationship with Twitter. Many have Twitter accounts and tweet regularly. They then publish their Twitter user name to garner more followers, yet they will write negatively about what appears on Twitter. They trawl Twitter looking for tip offs and suitable people to interview. Both my son and niece have appeared in the DominionPost following tweets which were followed up by journalists.
Yet journalists regard citizen journalism with suspicion for fear that the public will go to amateur journalists for their news, what du Fresne calls “Instant opinion, zero knowledge”. Would that professional journalists and their editors were free of this charge themselves.
He goes further, treading the line about Twitter and narcissism. First I note the DominionPost prints three or four tweets of the utmost banality every day. The biggest surprise is that I read them. He goes on to say “Add to that Worrall’s obvious belief that the world needed to hear her considered views on Barraco Barmer and Russia and you have a lethal concoction of foolishness and conceit.” In my view du Fresne’s combination of sarcasm and exaggeration is not pleasant either. A lethal concoction indeed! Who could have been harmed by this? “Considered views..” How could we be sure Worrall saw her comments in this light? “Conceit..” I’m not sure Gemma Worrall thought the world was hanging on her every word ready to take away some gem of brilliance. Twitter would have told her how many followers she had. That her comments have had such currency is due to the re tweeting process and columns like Karl du Fresne’s.
Should we dismiss Twitter as a platform for narcissists? Certainly, many seem to think their words carry a lot of weight but is tweeting much different from the small talk of the past, the phone calls, the post card craze of the 1900s… the talk in the pub, the coffee house or the salon? While narcissists, do find Twitter a useful platform to display their plumage, for many others it is just another way of engaging with their circle of friends just as writers, politicians and musicians use their Twitter accounts to connect to their audience.
Nor can we discount whether Gemma Worrall is what Karl du Fresne considers her to be, a hairdresser or a hoax or a clever piece of ingenue satire. Even if she is the genuine article, this type of error is in the nature of what used to be called School boy howlers until we became more gender inclusive and much more understanding of human frailty.

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