Column: ‘Death by tweet’ – words have consequences and can kill your own career
‘Death by tweet’ has to be just about the dumbest, most pointless, way to go.
The latest prize chump - take a bow Andrew Lawrence.
In the time it took to compose one tweet and one reply, the stand-up comedian’s tour was in tatters, and his agent was last seen sprinting as fast as his little legs would carry him in the opposite direction.
And, within hours, Lawrence had deleted his account, presumably to go sob quietly in a darkened corner.
The fact he then trended is surely the definition of irony in 2021. Top of Twitter’s popularity charts and dead in the water professionally at the same time. Job done fella!
If social media handed out Oscars for stupidity, then Lawrence would join a very long list of nominees, which makes his tweet even more of an epic fail.
In the aftermath of England’s Euro2020 final defeat, and horrific racist abuse pouring down on the team’s black players who missed in the penalty shoot out, Lawrence tweeted: "All I'm saying is, the white guys scored."
If it was a joke - and since Lawrence’s job revolves around making them, that’s a reasonable assumption - it was lamentable, crass, and grossly offensive.
The fact it wasn’t funny was simply the least of his problems.
Quickly assessing the heat which came his way, he then followed up with some ‘quip’ about diversity.
By then, the damage was done.
In the great scheme of things, Lawrence is insignificant - but his words were not.
He was rightly called out for his appalling tweet, and, one by one, the venues due to host him on his forthcoming UK tour very publicly cancelled his gigs. One was then subjected to terrifying threats to its staff. Words have consequences.
Not a single ounce of sympathy should be sent Lawrence’s way.
This has nothing to do with ‘cancel culture’ - a tiresomely over-used phrase - and everything to do with him facing the consequences of his own words.
Contrast his nasty, disgraceful tweet with the dignified, powerful responses of Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka whose words rose above the bile and hatred, and earned them the respect of everyone.
They even tackled senior Government Ministers in a way which made them squirm - and what a glorious sight that was seeing Priti Patel, Home Secretary, called out for her smirking hypocrisy.
Both she and Boris Johnson were specifically asked to condemn England fans who booed players taking the knee, failed to do so, and then tried to play the anti-racism card as the full extent of the abuse was laid bare.
The players handed Johnson and Pritel a masterclass in what it means to show leadership; something neither has the first understanding of.
Lawrence’s departure from Twitter will change nothing. The social media platform will remain a cesspit.
The giant tech company has done the absolute bare minimum to tackle the abuse, the bile, the hatred and contempt which scars far too much of its rolling timeline.
Maybe Twitter is just holding up a mirror to reflect the nasty, self-centred, divisive society we seem to have become.
We may not like what we see, and read, but it has to be confronted.