Why I’m learning to love Twitter (but hate Floyd Landis)

21May10

Floyd's new flatmate

For years, I have maintained a strict policy of being at least ten years out of date. By the ’90s, I had just about gotten the hang of touchpad telephones and fax machines. In the noughties, I bought a mobile phone and sometimes remembered to take it with me. I even cottoned on to email, and discovered it’s a great way to avoid awkward conversations with people you don’t like.

Facebook, however, has been an uphill struggle. Twitter is like a cliff face. At the top are hordes of tech-savvy urbanites, laughing and pelting me with obsolete smart phones.

Now it’s the tennies or teenies or whatever ‘now’ is supposed to be called, I have decided to drag myself into the previous decade. So I’m on Facebook every five minutes and even have a Twitter account.

I now get Facebook. Since I work from home, it’s the nearest thing to office banter. I while away my coffee breaks posting abusive comments to other freelance journalists. In the long, dark teatime of the self-employed soul, I console myself that this is healthier than internet porn.

Learning to embrace Twitter has been more of a struggle. Twitter is like a party where everyone  has either Attention Deficit Disorder or Tourette’s. Half the people (and companies) on Twitter are shouting ‘Look at me! Look at me!’ in a shrill voice while the other half swear back at them in txt spk. It’s a miserable, hollow place, an online popularity contest. It should be democratic, but it feels like rule by the mob.

Take the case of Lionel Birnie, a cycling journalist for IPC.  He is (or was) one of the few people I followed who posted genuinely interesting tweets. Instead of the usual 140 characters of illiterate noise, he was usually challenging, informative and thought provoking. He’s no longer on Twitter. From what I can piece together from the chatter on Twitter (Twatter?), he received so many abusive replies that he no longer thinks it’s worth the hassle.

Twitter, like internet forums, has something in common with the car. All three divorce us from the people around us. If two Middle-Englanders bump into each other in the street, they’ll both apologise in the customary awkward, time-honoured fashion. If the same two people cut each other up on the road, the air will hang thick with expletives.

A group of cycling fans in the pub won’t always agree with one another, but chances are they’ll discuss rather than argue, then buy each other a drink and agree to disagree. But the anonymity that forums and Twitter affords cuts us off from our social, reasonable selves.

Then again, there are those who deserve both barrels of your Core Duo. Like Floyd Landis. As you probably know, Floyd ‘won’ the Tour de France in 2006 before being revealed as a blood-doper. He spent four years denying he’d cheated, before yesterday admitting to years of doping. Two-wheeled tweeters like me reached for their Profanisaurus and used up their 140 characters several times over. I think I was three-tweets deep in vitriol by the time I went for a bike ride to calm down.

I remain in favour of politeness, respect and old-fashioned manners on the internet. However, I’m afraid Floyd Landis must remain an exception to this even-tempered policy. Not because he cheated. Only the terminally naive would believe that’s an exclusive club. (Besides, footballers dive to win matches and it’s considered ‘part of the game’. Can anyone explain to me the moral difference?)

It’s not even because he lied about it only to come clean later. That’s pretty much standard operating procedure for a doping cheat.

The reason Floyd Landis is top of my hit-list, in the umpteenth level of Hell playing hide-the-poker with Judas Iscariot, is because he took other people’s money to pay for his legal fees. The Floyd Fairness Fund is said to have raised close to $1million to pay the legal costs of his defence.

This money came from the pockets of ordinary cycle fans, the kind of people who sometimes lose their temper with each other online. In all the fuss about Landis throwing tainted blood bags at Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie and Johan Bruyneel, something more important seems to have been forgotten. Floyd Landis has defrauded hundreds of people, not by cheating in a bike race, but the altogether more serious crime of picking the pockets of the people who kept faith with him.

Tweet nicely everyone. But Floyd Landis? He deserves everything he gets.

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One Response to “Why I’m learning to love Twitter (but hate Floyd Landis)”

  1. 1 Jason

    Well said I supported Floyd for a while and even went to watch him ride when he came to the Nature Valley Grand Prix in MN but now I would have more than a few choice words for that SOB who is trying to destroy cycling all together. Though I’m still no sure whats up Greg Lemonds butt . I think he must be jelous thank when the average America thinks cycling they think Lannce and not Lemond.


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