Stephen Fry : the latest victim of the ‘mean web’

News flash: the Internet is not always a nice place to hang your hat.

However it seems that with the meteoric rise of social media and all the services that live in that realm such as Twitter some folks may not realize that not everything is sweetness and light. As much as the mavens of social media might like to gloss over the fact social media networks are not exactly harbors of good intentions and kind words.

According to Zee over at The Next Web the latest celeb to discover this real side of the web is Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) who has over 900,000 followers on Twitter. Fry, a very well known English writer and actor, has been up until today it seems a big proponent of Twitter. As Zee notes in his post Stephen has done a lot to propel Twitter’s popularity in Britain having appeared in many interviews about the service.

However that may be changing as it appears that like other celebrities Fry has been taking a fair amount of mean spirited jabs via Twitter and it has gotten him rather down on the service.


I’m not going to bother going into any really boring analysis of how this event, along with other celebs who have quit Twitter, is going to affect the service. Nor will I mention the most obvious solution to this problem of jackasses who think that openness and conversation on the Web means letting go of normal politeness and etiquette by mention how easy it is to use the block feature on Twitter.

Instead I just want to point out to all these n00bs that are discovering the wonders of the Web for maybe the first time – especially the one that exists past some Facebook page – the Web can suck at times.

Yes the Web is an incredible place to spend your time but it also is a place where both the good and bad in people is much more easily discovered. As one who has been involved in more flame wars and acrimonious discussions since the days of bulletin board services, and make what happen on Twitter seem like boy scout meeting, I can be pretty confident is telling you that at some point you are going to run up against assholes.

The problem is that for a lot of these celebs discovering the Web maybe for the first time through things like Twitter have for the most part come from a world where they are shielded from assholes. Whether it be through the use of managers or PR firms celebrities have for the most part been shielded from having to deal with those that might not like them. Social media due to its one on one nature has removed those barriers.

Celebrities can now interact with their fans more directly with things like Twitter and Facebook fan pages but that comes at a cost. The moment you enter the world of social media using things like Twitter you are opening yourself up to anyone who has a hate on for you. Maybe it was the clothes you wore to some event, maybe it was something you said in a Twitter message, or maybe it was just because the person on the other end of some message is nothing more than just an asshole.

There is a price to pay for the immediacy of interaction especially if you are famous for something so before you click that join button and jump on the bandwagon maybe you should first think about getting a thicker skin.