Social media can be a wonderful thing, but I couldn’t help but shudder this week when Twitter said it would be looking at doubling the number of characters available from 140 to 280.
For the uninitiated, Twitter lets people have a short, sharp say in a very virtual world, where you can see what celebrities like Piers Morgan has to say right alongside what Auntie Pauline wants to tell us all.
I’m a big fan of it. I use it personally and professionally, and to say it’s changed the way newspapers work is an understatement.
But as we all saw last week, social media has its pitfalls.
Fife Conservative councillor Kathleen Leslie has come in for renewed criticism for comments she posted about Nicola Sturgeon and others in the run-up to the independence referendum in 2014, as she took up her post on Fife’s standards and audit committee on Thursday.
What she may have thought were throw away comments at the time have come back to haunt her a bit, and opponents haven’t been slow to seize upon them.
For what it’s worth, I’m very much of the opinion that what’s in the past is in the past and, while certainly not condoning anything done, Ms Leslie should be free to get on with the day job. Given the furore that was stirred up, I’ve no doubt if she could go back in time then a different choice of words might have been used.
But that’s the whole crux of this column this week.
In today’s virtual world, people do have the chance to react instantly to things…and maybe not wisely.
For instance, when did we cross the line into a world where someone’s first instinct following, say, an accident, may not be to immediately help but instead to whip out a phone and take a picture or film it?
The responsibility between living in the real world and the virtual world is exactly the same, so the moral of the story is that we all must think before we speak. That will become even more pertinent if Twitter does decide to give us a few more precious characters.
Twitter is at its best when it brings people closer together — and its worst when moving people further apart.