Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The reformed Twitterer Mark Textor denounces the social media vanity of journalists and the online chattering classes

Ah, with what nostalgia I remember Mark Textor on Twitter. A source of such entertaining, self-opinionated commentary. And then, alas, the day when he judged himself to have gone too far with his barbs and his retirement into a self imposed Twittering exile.
Those indelible Textor memories came flooding back this morning when, with all the zeal of a reformed smoker denouncing the evils of the evil tobacco, he took to the pages of the Australian Financial Review to denounce the new vanity set loose upon journalists and others of the political class by their devotion to social media.
The Press Gallery is showing dangerous vanity. Quite apart from the questionable practice of one them recently posting pictures of a new Porsche, the obsession with their own importance has lead to a “look-at-us, look-at-them”, Balkanised finger pointing war. The ongoing catfight that is the ABC v News Corp v Fairfax Media is so self-obsessed it now demeans the profession. It certainly demeans their audience who want news, not news about news-people. The left erroneously attacks News Corp for “delivering [Tony] Abbott to government”. But in doing so, are they just feeding the vanity of an editor that believes this fantasy? Political biographies lead to incredibly vain behaviour amongst the players. One practice I have sometimes practised is to march into a bookstore, go straight to the index and see how many times, if at all, I have been mentioned. Moreover, as Joseph Conrad wrote: “Vanity plays lurid tricks with our memory” and many significant political events I’ve witnessed first-hand have strangely disappeared from the pages of more than a few famous biographies I have read from authors involved in those same events, but which don’t fit their legend.
… I fear the vain elites and online chattering classes are the modern equivalent of the puffed-up, perfumed and wigged French aristocracy before the Parisian mob cut their throats, bewildered by reality and unable to fight.
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