How to self-destruct on Twitter

Golfer Lee Westwood apologizes after a series of hissing tweets at pesterers. Days before, famous porn professor and male feminist Hugo Schwyzer uses Twitter to admit he's a fraud. Why on Twitter?

Hugo Schwyzer turned the heat on himself. Riki Lake Show/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk

Tweet us not into temptation, but deliver us from ourselves.

Famous people are, after all, just like us. They might have more money. They might have more fame. But when their mood is difficult and their Twitter machine is at hand, self-expression is but a few characters away from self-destruction.

Famous English golfer Lee Westwood -- by most accounts a thoroughly congenial man -- had to apologize Monday after he let Twitter's hissing snakes lead him into the putrid pit where they live.

As ESPN reports, he spent three Twitter hours on Sunday night excoriating and expectorating upon those who goaded him without reason or purpose.

He called them "minions." This, I fear, might have encouraged them. He called them "girly boy trolls." This might, at least, have had them calling their psychiatrists for an urgent appointment.

Still, Westwood's Twitter foray showed that the nastiness was getting to him -- however deftly he tried to swat it.

Out of character? Or too much character? Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Now, every time he doesn't win a major or has some kind of meltdown on the course, those who spend their time doing little more than huffing and puffing will be tweeting to be cutting about his putting. There might even be more of the minions.

He will survive. Moreover, he isn't Professor Hugo Schwyzer.

Until last Friday, Schwyzer was famous for being a male feminist and a professor of porn. Perhaps you have missed his work. Ricki Lake has not.

Among many things, he used to tell those of his gender that real feminist men should date women of their own age.

Last Friday, he began to expose himself on Twitter. No, not merely in a Weinerian way. This was quite Shakespearian.

Suddenly, around 100 tweets emerged from him in an hour, all offering that he was something of a deceiver. The word he used was "fraudulent."

A sample of his Friday Night Insights: "I am so sorry that I so often wrote posts about my exes designed to make me seem hot and them seem fragile."

Ultimately, it seemed that he chose Twitter to simply unburden himself. He tweeted: "Being microinfamous sucks."

It's unclear whether this is because he wanted not to be famous or to be macrofamous.

As the Daily Beast reports, he admitted: "I was just so toxically addicted to affirmation I would do anything to get it."

Not only did he say that he "lied and manipulated and cheated," but he also admitted that despite being married, he had enjoyed affairs with younger women.

He told the Daily Beast that he couldn't even delete his tweets: "I gave up my Twitter password while I was in the hospital. I was pulled away from the computer by the police because someone had called me in as potentially suicidal."

In one of his last tweets, he explained: "I suffer from bipolar disease with psychotic features. But I do not think that truth erases the harm I have done. It puts it in a context."

Somehow, Twitter has become quite a repository for the immediate and regrettable.

Many believe that Twitter is now the first place to go for news, so if you're feeling like addressing attentive masses and getting an instant reaction, Twitter is your stage.

Perhaps it's just one of the reasons why Facebook, as it tries to become "a personalized newspaper," is trying to copy some of Twitter's essentials. Yes, it's courting famous people.

The nasty hector on Twitter, just to get at those of whom they are fundamentally envious. Famous people use it to broadcast directly and manage their message.

But once on Twitter, those same famous managers can melt down quickly. Or even slowly. In the case of both Westwood and Schwyzer, they didn't just stop with a couple of tweets. They went on and on and on, around 150 tweets between them.

Normally, we do our whining in private and those closest to us put their little hand over our mouths and then lead us to our bedchamber.

Once we've let go on Twitter, though, it's too late for that. Even those closest to us just sit and shake their heads.

Then they unfollow us.

 

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