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Ella Walker Headshot

Twitter, Freedom of Speech and a Teetering Tower of Cards

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Sometimes I worry that Twitter is a tower of cards, just waiting to collapse in on itself.

Hour after hour we sit reacting to breaking news, getting outraged over some new government announcement (Gove's done what!?) and spitting views on the latest Daily Mail abomination (that Liz Jones needs sectioning etc.).

We build up issues, each adding our own 140 word's worth, and sometimes it all spirals out of control, it becomes a pit of fractious, quick-fire, one sentence arguments. Or worse, a campaign of disgust and endlessly rolling nit-picking. Sometimes it's valid - see the vitriol directed at the judge in the Justin Lee-Collins case; 140 hours of community service for sustained emotional abuse and fear of violence? Come on! - other times, not-so-much (looking at you, trolls).

But the same titbits of anger and incredulity can get bandied about (ok, retweeted) to such an extent that, particularly if you follow a lot of people who all follow each other, your feed becomes a blurred whir of grouchy repetition.

I worry that it might just all eat itself by accident in a mechanical crunch of iPhone keys against speed typing fingernails.

My other worry is that, in fact, the only people who talk any sense are on Twitter. While the rest of the world thinks the Twitterverse is inanely chatting on, procrastinating (what an awful word) and working itself up into a pointless frenzy, when actually it's thrashing out some serious questions, coming up with valid concerns and getting labelled as an ether-zone of time wasters for its trouble.

It's a conundrum, but whoever's side you're on, at least Twitter promotes freedom of speech; a freedom that is dangerously and terrifyingly close to being blitzed.

I thought freedom of speech - at least here in Britain - was a right. A certified, non-retractable right.

Apparently the courts are currently having other, nightmarishly unreasonable ideas. Locking someone up for a sick and offensive t-shirt? Sending someone down for - albeit vile - Facebook comments? Twitter pranks ending up in front of a judge?

Where did all the common sense go?

While some should most definitely hold their tongues and withdraw their hands from their keyboards, there are better uses for prison cells than banging up people for speaking their mind.