Danny Boyle’s London Olympics opening ceremony production on July 27 played like a bombastic, funhouse mirror held up to the U.K. with the world’s citizens as sideline spectators, and inspired Aidan Burley, a Conservative member of Parliament, to tweet that it was “multicultural leftie crap.” On July 30 came the rejoinder from his boss, Prime Minister David Cameron, who told the BBC that Burley’s comments were “idiotic.”
“What he said was completely wrong,” Cameron, himself a member of the Conservative Party, said, referring to Burley’s July 27 tweets. “I think it was an idiotic thing to say.”
Cameron may have felt political pressure to dismiss Burley’s tweets. Nevertheless, being called out as an idiot publicly by your boss is the sort of thing that sticks with you as you move through your career.
Perhaps Burley is not an idiot and was merely doing his job—being an attack dog politician playing to a certain segment of the population. We see it on our side of the pond all the time. But he went too far—at least, Cameron thinks so—and now he’s been branded as an idiot.
And it’s so easy to go too far on Twitter. Its enforced brevity leaves no room for nuance, for considered opinions, for good judgment. If you’re in the business of advocacy on Twitter, it’s best to first ask yourself, “How would this tweet look if it was coming from my CEO?” Or, in the case of a British member of Parliament, “How would this tweet look if it was coming from the PM?”
Follow Steve Goldstein: @SGoldsteinAI