The Courier-Mail

Execution by Twitter

How social media has fatal consequenc­es

- PHIL BROWN

IT WAS supposed to connect us all for a better world but social media is now a menace that is killing people and ruining a generation.

It sounds extreme but British writer Jon Ronson said Twitter and other forms of social media are wreaking havoc and we need to rethink how we use them.

That’s the bleak message he will deliver in the opening address for this year’s Brisbane Writers Festival tonight.

Ronson, 48, author of the bestseller So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, an expose on social media, is on a crusade against the worst excesses.

“Twitter is making young kids judge, jury and executione­r,” Ronson said yes- terday. “Curiosity is being replaced by condemnati­on, people are killing themselves because of Twitter, and it’s nice people like us who are doing it.

“People are being destroyed for a joke that comes out badly and our kids are creating a stressful world for themselves and others.”

Ronson said terrorists and those who want to harm others have taken to social media and said what could have been a medium for compassion and empathy is now the opposite.

“And far from being democratic, people only seek to reinforce their own views on social media,” Ronson said.

“Twitter is a mutual approval machine and when people get in the way or have a different opinion you just scream them out of the way. It’s actually the opposite of democracy. That’s why I try to follow people I don’t agree with, so I can get an alternativ­e opinion rather than just reinforcin­g my own.”

Upon arrival in Brisbane just after lunch yesterday he said he hadn’t tweeted all day but had re-Tweeted several times, including a tweet about his neardeath experience on Concorde many years ago when he and the other passengers, including Keith Richards, thought the plane was going to crash.

“If that plane had actually crashed you would have only read about The Rolling Stones and Liam Neeson dying because they were all on that plane. The rest of us wouldn’t have made the news,” he said.

The Brisbane Writers Festival runs until Sunday.

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