The Wild West of Etiquette

Ok, let me get one thing off my chest right away: I’m not a fan of Coldplay. I got one album of theirs, way back. I tried them, I didn’t really like them.

But I feel a bit sorry for Chris Martin today.

Like many Brits, I stayed up to watch the Super Bowl. It was a great game, but the prospect of having to sit through a bloated halftime show at dumb o’clock in the morning wasn’t one I was looking forward to.

Unsurprisingly, I thought the whole thing sucked. Pretty colours, but I was pretty indifferent to it. That’s fine.

Obviously, Twitter felt the same way. Everyone’s entitled to an opinion, but plenty of people sparked up with the usual abuse that, at best, is like a bit of joshing between friends and, at worst, playground bullying.

The problem is it’s so hard to tell, so you have to take it at face value. And a lot of it was directly aimed at frontman Chris Martin.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d have cracked lots of the same jokes myself if I was watching with other people (saddo alert). But I’ve not felt the need to publicly broadcast that sort of thing online since I was a teenager.

Worse, are the “news” articles collating some of the finest tweets. Like this one on Mashable. If Twitter is a little like playground bullying at times, articles like this feel a little bit like the equivalent of the teacher pointing at you and laughing.

It’s pretty lazy writing too (says Richard, in a vague, sleep-deprived attempt to make this relevant to writing). Screen grab someone else’s quips, frame it for some LOLZ and off you pop. Content done.

Then you let other, like me, people share it and comment on it and the whole Internet thing gets disgustingly meta again and threatens to swallow itself. Or something.

But I digress.

I’m not a huge fan of Chris Martin. But he’s sold more records than me. He’s played more Super Bowl half time shows than I’m ever likely to. I don’t like his music, but I think this is biggest problem with the Twitter abuse and Mashable’s article. He’s a musician; he just wanted to entertain and try to bring people together for a few moments. I’ve no reason to doubt his intentions are genuine.

If he’d spouted a load of hate about such-and-such ethnic group, or insisted the world lets children carry guns or something mental like that, I’d totally get it. The Internet’s great for taking those sorts of people down a peg or two. And it should keep fighting the good fight like that.

But I worry if sometimes the Internet forgets that maybe it should see the line and cut people a little slack occasionally.

After all, most those things people said about him on Twitter would never be said to his face if they ever met him. Because those people would look like complete jerks.

      – Update: We can end on a positive note!

I’ve just clocked an article on The Guardian that nails reporting about social media around events like this. It’s informative, interesting, and a far cry from basically pointing and laughing at Chris Martin.

I’d be fibbing if I said it changed how I felt about the show itself, as a spectacle, but it definitely sheds new, thought-provoking light on proceedings. Kudos, everyone.

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