If you’re going to make a living as a comedian, it helps if you’re funny. While she should never forget that humour is in the ear of the beer-holder, the sacking of Melbourne Age columnist Catherine Deveny for inappropriate tweeting at the Logies on Sunday night raises some interesting social issues - other than those around her views on 11-year-olds having sex and people’s wives dying of cancer.
Deveny said her tweets had been taken out of context, saying: “It was just passing notes in class…but suddenly these notes are being projected into the sky and taken out of context”.
Deveny needs to go back to school because that’s dead wrong. Anyone naïve enough to think the process of using a public communication platform like Twitter is private communication between two individuals is having themselves on.
Twitter does have an option for users to “protect” their tweets and make them only available to selected users, but last time I looked Deveney’s profile (4200 followers) was as public as a walk down Collins Street. The important thing to remember here is that if you attach a hashtag (like @logies) to a tweet, you’re making it easy for people to find and, thus, seeking attention.
Typo correction: "#logies"
Deveny’s sacking as a columnist isn’t an attempt to shut down free speech. Far from it. She’s free to say whatever she likes. The simple fact is that The Age’s management don’t feel like associating their “brand” with her, and when you go out in public and try and yank people's chains there's often a price to pay.
(And before you flame away, I do have a sense of humour and might have cracked the odd Bindi Irwin joke myself. Comedy should be provocative but the best practitioners know their audience from their armpit and can also identify where to draw the line.)
Deveny’s in good company. Only last month Nick Sowden, a Young Liberal from Queensland, was sacked from the Liberal National party after a tweet comparing Barack Obama to a monkey. He said that was meant as a joke. I wonder if Catherine Deveny agreed with his excuse that he, too, was “taken out of context” or if she leapt to his defence.
Recent statistics from the US suggest 45 percent of employers
there screen potential new hires via social media. Food for thought next time
you commit something to the public playground of cyberspace, where a sense of
digital disconnection from reality frequently lures users into adopting
a different persona, or throwing rational thought to the wind.
You'll find the Lighthouse Communicaitons Twitter feed here.