George Orwell predicts Twitter hate-ins

12 Jan|Tom Hodgkinson

Spend less time using Twitter as a vehicle for hatred; direct your rage at the digital overlord instead, says Tom Hodgkinson

The periodic bouts of hatred directed at public figures on Twitter reminds me of Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate” in 1984.

In Two Minutes Hate, the residents of Oceania watch images of the enemy on a giant screen, and work themselves into a frenzy of rage. Rather like Twitter, no one forces you to join in, but it is easy to get swept up in it, because you want to let other people know that you, also, hate Toby Young, or whoever it might be.

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blow lamp.

The real point is that hatred directed at a public figure is a distraction from the real stuff which is going on. We should actually be directing our rage at Twitter itself – the very medium which provides a conduit for our hate. The owners of Twitter, an ad sales company, are sitting back and profiting from these outpourings of bile. Twitter has become particularly hate-filled lately, and like most products of technology, started with great promises of liberation and self-expression, and ended up being taken over by the bullies and the rich.

I also happen to think that rather than indulging our negative emotions on Twitter and enriching the digital overlords in the process, our time would be better spent creating, learning and drinking fine ales.

And playing the ukulele, of course.

To receive Tom Hodgkinson’s FREE weekly column, click here. You’ll also get 15% off your first purchase.