Why do we listen to thin-skinned Plaxo-quitting Stephen Fry?

By andy

It must be because celebrities bring a certain “cool” quality to social networks and microblogging services — cool in the way the mass of non-techies view things, at least — that we (the media) seem to pay so much attention to them.

You see, even I’m writing about it, and I stopped following Stephen Fry’s Twitter account months ago.

He didn’t notice, because I didn’t bother to slag him off and test his incredibly thin skin.

I’m quite surprised that Stephen, who at least gives the impression of being super-intelligent, didn’t realise that building a huge following on the Internet had significant potential for being criticised.

Some people are even nasty.

It’s something that bloggers learned right from the start. Unlike traditional journalists who were fairly exempt from written criticism — most people’s anger burned out once they had to find some paper, a pen, an envelope, a stamp, and the postal address, and then realised that it would take anywhere from a day to a week for the letter to arrive, which might not even be read or reacted to — bloggers have been dealing with trolls, haters, and (gasp) genuine critique for years.

You can develop a thick skin, wimp out and turn comments off, or get out of the blogging game.

You’re even more vulnerable on the takes-three-seconds-to-post-an-insult world of Twitter, except you don’t have to read your @replies.

What my bugbear is: at least in the UK, Stephen Fry seems to have become some kind of celebrity tech god.

He landed the number 4 position in this year’s T3 most influential people in tech list.

Having your photo taken with a new Nokia handset, and being able to boast that you’ve used a lot of PDAs and cellphones in your time, doesn’t really make you an expert.

And anyone can say that they’re annoyed at a web service (Plaxo) after they’ve forgotten to set their privacy controls correctly.

Number FOUR, and you’ve buggered your privacy settings?

I can see the hate email coming now. Fry is a national institution. I just wonder why, when it comes to tech, some people hang on his views. That’s like paying John and Edward to give singing lessons.

One apology: to our international readers who have no idea who these people are.

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