Twitter Killed The Comedy Star

On Wednesday, Mark Lawson wrote an article for the Guardian suggesting that Twitter is damaging new comedies through instant reviewing. This results in shows getting a bad reputation before they have barely begun. According to Mark Lawson, one of the recent victims of this concern was Ben Elton‘s painfully unfunny show The Wright Way. I saw about five minutes of the show when I was channel hopping one night. During my time with the show I don’t remember laughing – quite bad for a thirty minute comedy. It was made worse by the fact I started spotting actors who had starred in Ben Elton‘s, far funnier, comedy The Thin Blue Line reminding me how good Elton had once been. This suggests, in the case of The Wright Way, that all social media was doing was protecting fellow TV viewers from a bad programme. However, I don’t believe that this is the case. For those who don’t know Twitter is a micro blogging site where users post 140 character long comments. The main difference between Twitter and Facebook – the other big social media platform – is that Twitter allows you to engage with people without requiring their permission*. According to Rose McGrory Social Media Management, the UK has around 34 million Twitter accounts presently active. However, for our purposes the most important stat is as follows:

The vast majority (81.1 and 74.1% respectively) of accounts have fewer than 50 followers, and follow fewer than 50 accounts themselves. Rose McGrory Social Media Management (2013)
On top of this only around 60% of Twitter’s 100 million active users worldwide are actually tweeting. Everyone else just follows so this suggests that the vast majority of UK Twitter users have a very small circle of influence so how come the television industry is so scared of Twitter and other Social Media? Well the answer is that the traditional media, newspapers etc, report Twitter as a collective voice when it nothing of the sort. Twitter is closer to an audience of a rock concert where everyone is talking, shouting and singing different things but from a distance all you hear is the loudest group of people. Therefore the easiest way to stop the problem Mark Lawson is talking about is for the traditional media to stop reporting a small number of opinions as absolutes. With the chances of that happening the same as me scoring the winning goal in the Football World Cup Final for Scotland, then the only option left to the producers of new comedy is to make sure it is funny! * There are exceptions to this but in the main this is true.]]>

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