Friday, 5 March 2010

Multiple Twitter Tweet

There's a common misunderstanding that the psychiatric condition schizophrenia is connected with someone exhibiting multiple personalities. The etymology of schizophrenia doesn't help - in Latin, it means "split mind". Confusion is made possible by a very confusing name.

Multiple personalities and confusion are also a tempting offering in the nickname demotic of the internet age. Done covertly it takes the name of sock-puppetry. I don't know if the practice has a name if it is done overtly. But what is to be made of the following tweet?
RT @nadine_dorries: I've noticed that the London's posters get ruder as they get smaller. No, really. The ones in phone boxes are the worst.
Tim Ireland, through a twitter account called Nadine Dorries, retweets his own tweet, but this time through an account called Tim Ireland. Tim is pretending to be Nadine, and simultaneously he is pretending there is a second Tim. Or is it just Tim being Tim? If so, why use Nadine's name at all? I expect a psychologist could make a stab at what's going on here, but I don't think I've quite got the stomach to try myself.

As to the text, I think he (or she) is trying to make a joke. It doesn't really work for me the first time. The second time round it just seems weird. I don't know if the real Nadine Dorries (there is one, but she and Tim don't seem to see eye to eye) has recently pronounced on posters in London, and I wouldn't expect the "joke" to improve if I did learn the background. Jokes work best if we can laugh with people, not at them. It's hard to see if we are meant to be laughing at Dorries, at Ireland pretending to be Dorries, or Ireland pretending to be Ireland pretending to be Dorries.

Tim Ireland sets a great store by the fact that he is open about the internet accounts he creates. It is as if he sees openness as a substitute, or guarantor, for motive. I'd be interested to know what his motive is for his repeated attacks on Nadine. But given his propensity to "over explain", I don't expect I shall be asking him directly, any time soon.

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