Instant Opinion

‘More tears and tantrums on Twitter are guaranteed’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Madeline Grant in The Telegraph

The Left’s Twitter meltdown proves Elon Musk’s point

on Twitter tantrums

Twitter favours “explosive over-reaction”, which could be one reason for the “deranged response” to the announcement of Elon Musk’s takeover, says Madeline Grant in The Telegraph. Social media users responded “as if this were digital armageddon, the end of the world as we know it”. But there have been occasions when Twitter has stifled free speech in the past – “de-platforming Trump, yet allowing Taliban leaders to tweet, for example”. And during the pandemic, we repeatedly saw “social media moderators” often using “their powers to silence particular viewpoints”, Grant writes. “Shouldn’t we welcome someone who wants to spend their own money unwinding these sorts of attitudes, assuming Twitter doesn’t become toxic and unusable?” Whatever the uncertainty is about Twitter’s future, “it is scarcely enough to justify the hyperbole”. What we can guarantee, though, is that whatever direction he takes the platform in, we’ll see “more tears and tantrums from its most prolific users”.

2

George Monbiot in The Guardian

England’s punitive exam system is only good at one thing: preserving privilege

on the ‘extreme stress’ of exams

As exam term begins, millions of households are beginning to question why exactly we put our children through this, writes George Monbiot in The Guardian. “NHS figures suggest that 17% of six- to 16-year-olds in England now suffer from a ‘probable mental disorder’”, while “two-thirds of children ranked homework and exams as their greatest cause of stress” in a survey by the children’s commissioner for England. And three-quarters of teachers think their students’ mental health has “deteriorated” since Michael Gove’s GCSE reforms “put more weight on final exams and less on coursework and other assessments”. The government should have an “excellent reason” for subjecting young people “to the extreme stress and anxiety of exams”. But if there is a good case for them, “this government hasn’t made it”. Exams “inflict pain and distress on our children, narrow their minds and force them to conform”, Monbiot continues. “Q: What would a fair, rounded, useful 21st-century education look like? A: Nothing like this.”

3

Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail

If I were Angela Rayner, I’d own this. The truth is she could dress in sackcloth and ashes and still put Boris Johnson off his stride

on the Mail on Sunday article

“If someone wrote a story explaining how I was so distracting, my male colleagues could barely function in my presence (a highly implausible proposition, I admit), I really don’t think I would be quite as upset as Angela Rayner seems to be,” writes Sarah Vine in the Daily Mail. Yes, it’s obviously a “sexist notion”, but “let’s face it, in the real world these things do happen”. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion”, Vine continues, “and Rayner is perfectly at liberty to express her feelings in relation to the article in question”. But there’s “just one tiny fly in her ointment: it transpires that Rayner herself joked openly about the whole thing earlier this year”. To see her “get so upset” by the story feels “a tiny bit disingenuous”, says Vine. “It’s a fantastic opportunity to stick it to the Tories and what she sees as the Right-wing media – while at the same time upping her profile and burnishing her credentials as a potential alternative to Sir Keir.”

4

Jason Blum in The New York Times

A scrappier model for Netflix might be more sustainable

on new thinking for Netflix

After Netflix reported its quarterly earnings last week, “the entire entertainment business had questions”, says Jason Blum in The New York Times. “Netflix, the great disrupter whose algorithms and direct-to-consumer platform have forced powerful media incumbents to rethink their economic models, now seems to need a big strategy change itself.” The company has lost 200,000 subscribers already this year and expects to lose two million more in the current quarter. Over the years, “Netflix and other streamers have come to be seen less as tech companies and more as media companies”, says Blum, “subject to the usual gravitational forces of the quality and cost of their filmed entertainment”. These streaming platforms “should embrace one surefire way of controlling costs while increasing quality: cut creators in financially on the direct results of their work”.

5

Esther Walker on the i news site

Our hostility to redheads is deeply weird. Can it really all be the Vikings’ fault?

on an overlooked injustice

As a redhead, it’s difficult not to be whiny about our “mistreatment”, says Esther Walker on the i news site. Recently, Jessica Gagen, who is making a bid to be the first redhead to represent England at Miss World, “revealed that as a student she was horribly abused for her hair”. “I’ve never had it that bad,” Walker continues, “but I can cite endless micro-aggressions: being told I’d be pretty if I wasn’t ginger; being told on Twitter that my freckles are ‘disgusting’”. But when we make up 2% of the population and “can barely muster a dozen of our own kind in any given postcode, what are we going to do about it?”, she asks. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Angela Rayner is the first woman MP to be openly accused of flashing the opposition and is also a redhead.”

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