What is it about the instant nature of cyber communication that makes people less apt to censor themselves? To be sure, people have always battled appropriately censoring themselves in the modern era of mass communication. Whether they flub it when speaking to a news reporter or flubbing to on a talk show, people have always said crap they shouldn’t have. However, it seems we’re seeing more people crucifying themselves on the Foot-in-Mouth altar than ever. People who we would never have seen do such things in the past, such as Olympic athletes, celebrities, musicians…the cyber medium has given people who aren’t ordinarily trained to think on their toes the means to express themselves instantly to vast, global audiences. Politicians and certain public figures are quite adroit at self-expression and rarely say something thoughtless without measuring its import (Sarah Palin does not count). A politician’s calling is his words and the propriety of his expression. In addition, many interviews were taped or rehearsed and thus, non-repeatable tidbits never made their way across the human medium of civilization so instantaneously. Cyber expression is an instant one-way street. Once something is entered or published, it is permanently memorialized for all time into the ledgers of our communal record. You can’t undo something you write or say on the internet. Twitter is the nail in the coffin of your good reputation. Be careful what you say, idiot.
Speaking of idiots, I would like to nominate 2012 Olympians, Voula Papachristou, the Greek jumper, and Michel Morganella, a Swiss soccer player, to the Olympic Idiot competition. But why do I call them idiots? Not because of what they carelessly typed into the condensed field of 140-word Twitter expression. I don’t think what they said is horrible. None of it should be punishable by being expelled from their Olympic teams which did happen to both of them. Not at all. It is pure, unadulterated PC ass-covering that is responsible for their public fate. You can say a lot of careless stuff, but there is zero tolerance in “respectable” society for racial observations, however harsh, or true, they are. Of the two, Papachristou’s lame Twitter joke was the less menacing. She joked that West Nile mosquitoes would be able to enjoy home-made food in her home country due to the abundance of African immigrants. Ha ha. Snark snark. In addition to her public support for the Greek far-right party, Golden Dawn, Papachristou’s un-PC credentials are cemented and they offered an easy opportunity for spiteful Greek Olympic officials who promptly kicked her off the Olympic team. For what, I can’t really say. Making a joke that no one might have learned about in pre-Twitter days?
The “harsher” of the Olympic flubs belonged to Morganella of the Swiss soccer team. Shortly after the Swiss teams lost 2-1 to the South Koreans on Sunday, Morganella did what every idiot does in the heat of the moment: he logged on to Twitter. He then proceeded to take the opportunity to memorialize on the eternal cyber wall of mankind by inviting South Koreans to all “go burn” and then poured a little more gasoline on his bad-sportsmanlike fire by calling South Koreans “mongoloids.” Hee hee. Once again, he was deemed incorrigible by Olympic officials from his homeland and he was also expelled from the soccer team.
It’s like no one can handle cyber written real-time communication because the open stage of expression is such a tantalizing siren call to stupidity. We are not punishing the athletes for what they said. We are punishing them for being dense and unrestrained. I’m sure Olympic athletes were always the greatest lovers of mankind in the days before Twitter…right? Twitter miraculously transformed benevolent and respectful emissaries of global athleticism into close-minded, hateful scoundrels. Let’s blame Twitter. The truth is, we can only blame Twitter and all other forms of real-time cyber communication for helping us shed the hypocritical delusions of virtuosity that we dress our heroes in. When people express themselves in writing they seem propelled by a self-asserted sense of anonymity. People fail to integrate the written word as a tangible self-identifier and it seems they lazily disrobe themselvs of that bothersome garment/responsibility before clicking “send.” It’s easier, when speaking, to modulate your self-expression while fully comprehending that you are speaking to a mass of faces who are listening. When people write, they become alienated from their Self; writing is a disconnected act of communication and it appears we don’t fully comprehend its equally important effect as of speaking into a microphone or looking into a camera, situations in which we are more likely to censor ourselves. It’s as if the act of visualizing the words before us saps them of the life and effect they have on others.