This week you may have come across the Twitter rant unleashed by the employee of an MP.
Gareth Arnold took the unusual step of handing his notice in by posting thread of tweets from the account of Jared O’Mara MP he had access to.
It was oddly polarising.
It was greeted as a glorious ‘f*** you’ to every bad employer.
Or it was a piece of revenge against a former friend with a history of mental health issues.
Or it was a glorious stunt.
Or it was a piece of poor communications.
The debate was extensive and I’m not going to add to line-by-line debate of the now-deleted Twitter thread. Since the thread was posted Jared O’Mara has publicly declared that he’s taking time out to resolve his mental health issues.
For me, on reflection this is a mental health issue. I’m not adding to the debate. On a human level the bloke needs time to restore himself. I get the need for the people of Sheffield Hallam need a fully-functioning MP.
If ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ is a thing it needs to apply to MPs too.
But on a very wide broad point the story does touch upon three universal truths.
Never let disaffected staff have the keys to your social media
The sign-off was swift and brutal and reminded me and several others of @HMVtweets from six years ago. Back then, a member of staff live tweeted a mass sacking as she still had access to the account.
The idea of letting a member of staff sole access is slightly alarming. Link the Twitter account to the email of a grown-up and look at two step authentication.
There is a point in every Twitter pile-on when its not funny anymore
A car crash online is inherently remarkable. It draws attention. You can’t stop looking. There goes the car smashing into the fruit barrow. Lols! There’s apples everywhere! There goes a phone box! Fantastic! But when it comes into contact with human beings it starts to be less funny.
Once there was a PR who tweeted that she was going to South Africa but that it was alright, she wouldn’t catch AIDS as she was white. It was really stupid thing to post. Anger led to an online mob forming. The mob was waiting for the plane to land.
At some point the punishment outweighs the crime and the joke isn’t funny anymore.
Mob rule is never pretty and I’m not sure there is ever a role for it.
Jon Ronson was right
In his seminal book ‘So, You’ve Been Publicly Shamed‘ Ronson traces the lives of people who have been affected by being shamed online. There is a moment of clarity in the book when Max Mosley is interviewed. The former Formula 1 Big Cheese successfully sued the News of the World for claims he took part in a Nazi-themed orgy with five prostitutes. An orgy and five prostitutes? Yup. He fessed up. But he drew the line at ‘Nazi themed’ and won the case.
For anyone else it would have been career limiting. For Mosley, it wasn’t. Why? Because what he got up to in his own time was up to him, he argues. He doesn’t feel shame. And if there is no shame felt there is no internet shaming.
This explains Donald Trump and populists like him.
What would have ruined a career 20 years ago can be brushed off if you don’t feel the shame that really should go with it.