Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fifteen minutes on Facebook

After the epic 'debate' I was involved in earlier this year, one of my observations was that there appears to be very few forums in which the massed ranks on each side of the Great Cultural Chasm in America can even bring themselves to talk at each other, let alone engage in constructive debate. The bemusement I provoked simply by sticking around to argue an alternative point of view, and the curiosity value that seemed to be attached to such a thing occurring, spoke volumes. Well, I had a very similar experience a few hours ago - all it took was a brief exchange on Twitter about President Obama's new status as a Nobel laureate, and suddenly one of my tweets briefly occupied pride of place on the Facebook page of a "Republican activist/commentator/blogger/vlogger" (the mind boggles). Ryan P Dixon does appear to have something of a following, with 600 fans on Facebook, and no fewer than 24,954 followers on Twitter. Well cheers, Ryan, I agree with you that it was one of my very finest tweets, and thoroughly deserving of the wider audience you brought it to.

Ryan further drew attention to my little gem by introducing it with shouty capital letters - "LIBERAL ON TWITTER: Says this is the reason why Obama won the Nobel". I'm always unsure at moments like that whether it's worth entering into a philosophical discussion about what the word 'liberal' actually means, at least on this side of the Atlantic. Someone with left-of-centre views in Germany would hardly look to the liberal party there (the Free Democrats) as their spiritual home. Of course, the American usage of the word is just as legitimate, but when it's imposed on people from other countries, it can sometimes be quite satisfying to respond with an insistence on linguistic precision. The best retort of that variety I can think of is from Sean Connery's character in the film The Russia House (it may well feature in John le Carré's original novel as well). When a paranoid American military interrogator puts it to him that his father was a liberal, he responds with a wry smile -

"No. My father hated liberals. He took the communist line mainly..."

1 comment:

  1. Comment from Montague Burton that fell foul of my moderation policy (I don't know how to delete individual words) -

    "On the internet everyone will be famous for 15 people.

    What was your finest tweet?

    Ro Obama, I'm a-thinking they gave him the Nobel now rather than the inevitably posthumous awarding after some redneck, knee-jerk, fully loaded, micro-****ed, republi**** shoots him for suggesting private medical insurance isn't perhaps best value."

    I think you get the gist! My response -

    My finest tweet was "SCRAPPED MISSILE DEFENCE! That is the answer. (And committed himself to fewer nuclear weapons, and reached out to the Arabs.)" Which was a semi-sarcastic response to this question which I'd already answered once - "WHAT DID OBAMA DO?? That is the question..."

    Ryan P Dixon said afterwards "what you said was pure ignorance", which did make me wonder slightly if his only complaint was that I'd spelt the word defence 'incorrectly'! Probably the real reason for his triumphalism is that he didn't realise I'm not from the US, and from what I can gather Obama supporters have to tie themselves up in knots for domestic consumption by pretending the missile defence shield hasn't actually been 'scrapped'.