The claim that ‘I was quoted out of context’ is the feeblest excuse of the lot.
We can all sympathise, I am sure, with the predicament of Diane Abbott MP last week. “White people love playing ‘divide & rule’. We should not play their game,” she tweeted. Put under pressure to clarify this, she hastily explained: “Tweet taken out of context. Refers to nature of 19th- century European colonialism. Bit much to get into 140 characters.”
Yep, we’ve all been there. There you are wanting to tweet a nuanced disquisition on ethnic communities under the white 19th-century imperial hegemony and, damn it, Twitter’s wretched character limit has gone and cut you off before you’ve barely begun.
That’s the charitable explanation. The uncharitable one is that with more than 2,200 tweets to her name, @HackneyAbbott really ought to have twigged by now that Twitter isn’t the best medium for long essays. Nor even short ones. “Your tweet was over 140 characters. You’ll have to be more clever,” you’re told whenever you try to exceed the limit. Everyone on Twitter knows this. It is, in fact, the whole point of Twitter. Is Diane Abbott really asking us to believe she is so clotted-cream thick that this most basic of points has eluded her?