Tag Archives: Andy Pemberton

Do Twitterers have less of an identity than a newspaper columnist? Oliver James answers

This Sunday Times article has sparked a bit of a Twitter reaction in the comments beneath it, a few blog posts (Sarah Hartley, Duncan Riley and Martin Stabe, for example) and also a few raised eyebrows in the Twittersphere.

In his article entitled ‘A Load of Twitter’ the Sunday Times’ Andy Pemberton (don’t think he’s on Twitter) wrote:

“The clinical psychologist Oliver James has his reservations. “Twittering stems from a lack of identity. It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody would Twitter if they had a strong sense of identity.”

The article, if not James’ comments, seems to imply that users of Twitter have less of a ‘sense of identity’ than people who publish via other forms of publication (comment below if you think otherwise).

It seemed only right to ask Oliver James himself about his comments, and he quickly responded by email.

Firstly, James clarified: “I should have thought my contentions are not especially surprising – see the arguments in my books regarding individualism versus collectivism, the rise of insecurity, loneliness etc.”

And is he, then, as someone who publicly publishes his own comments and opinions, any less lacking in identity than a Twitter user?

“I have frequently argued that people seek out fame and might also do newspaper columns out of lack of identity. Suppose I am one of those, does that affect whether I am right about Twittering? Not sure what your point is?”

So, finally, do journalists who publish column pieces or news also lack identity?

“I should have thought the longing for short-term quick-fix connectedness would lead to a plausible hypothesis that a significant number of Twitterers would be more insecure and lacking in identity than the average journalist, who has to wait a week for their column to be published, in the case of columnists, and 24 hours for a news journo – i.e immediacy factor could be significant, though doesn’t mean all Twitterers are identity-less…”