Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Big in Egypt

The internet is sometimes just strap-yourself-in crazy. Overnight I became a big player in Egyptian cyber activism.

I say ‘big’ meaning a few thousand page views shortly before midnight. I say ‘I’ meaning Richard Madeley became a big hit or rather, something that ‘Uncle Dick’ wrote some time back attracted some attention.

Back when I was wide-eyed and fun to be around, I wrote hundreds of thousands of words for the ‘The Richard Madeley Appreciation Society’ and one of my favourite posts was called ‘Uncle Dick’s Guide to Becoming A Good Twitterer And Making Your Life Complete’. Last night somebody linked to it from Facebook and hits from Egypt and the Middle East didn’t ease up for a good couple of hours. About 1am, I was so excited I felt like climbing a lamp post and firing off a flare gun.

That’s the thing I was saying about the internet... What with it sometimes being strap-yourself-in crazy.

But what baffles me is: why Egypt?

Why Twitter?

Why, indeed, Richard Madeley?

Might Richard Madeley suddenly find himself the face of the Arab Spring or Summer or, judging how things have been going recently, Winter? And why did this post interest somebody enough for them to link to it? Did my cynicism about Twitter suddenly hit a chord? Are Egyptians waking up today realising that their liberation isn’t complete because they’re not following Richard P Bacon? After all the positives said about Twitter being the tool of freedom, has the liberal intelligentsia over there suddenly realised that it’s actually just a great big marketing scam taken over by the Bieber fans and his corporate puppet masters? Could Stephen Fry be set to become the new President of Egypt? I honestly believe they could do worse.

That’s one of the interesting things about writing a blog. One day you’ll be perusing the stats and you’ll see a sudden influx of traffic from some obscure forum dedicated to Philip’s head screwdriver collectors. They’ll have linked to something you’ve written and (usually) be giving you hate for having written something ignorant about the business end of a pump-handled screwdriver. Some sharp type will write something like ‘oh, it’s just some crap blog written by a hammer-friendly arsehole’ and you’ll wince at the insightful analysis. ‘Arsehole?’ Oh, they know me so well!

It’s why I rarely follow the links back to their source. It’s why I’m not interested in learning why Egyptians are interested in my Twitter post. The last time something like this happened, the traffic was coming from ex-pats living in Tunisia and I’d apparently hurt their feelings and some of them wanted to see me lynched or raise the issue with the local Embassy. It never worried me that they might actually carry their threats out. Egypt, however, is a different proposition…

Perhaps I should look.

Perhaps I should consider a disguise.

Oh God! What have I done?!

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