Stephen Fry has left Twitter. Again.
Comments he made about a friend's apparel at last weekend's BAFTA awards ceremony were pounced upon by hundreds of people who apparently didn't get the joke. Some of the more repeatable of such Tweets include:
@stephenfry hmm a woman excels at her craft, wins a #BAFTA & still gets called 'a bag lady' because of how she looks
Surprised by @stephenfry's bag lady quip. A joke between friends, fair enough, but to unsuspecting viewers came across a bit mean. #EEBAFTAs
And so, after an expletive-laden riposte of his own, @stephenfry signed off. And the following day posted an explanation on his website.
'Let us grieve at what twitter has become,' he writes. 'A stalking ground for the sanctimoniously self-righteous who love to second-guess, to leap to conclusions and be offended – worse, to be offended on behalf of others they do not even know. It’s as nasty and unwholesome a characteristic as can be imagined. It doesn’t matter whether they think they’re defending women, men, transgender people, Muslims, humanists … the ghastliness is absolutely the same. It makes sensible people want to take an absolutely opposite point of view. I’ve heard people shriek their secularism in such a way as to make me want instantly to become an evangelical Christian.'
Powerful words, from an indisputable king of language.
Mr Fry's 'inflammatory' comments related to fashion rather than faith, of course. But the Faith in Social Media survey is already hearing from respondents who either avoid commenting on matters of faith entirely or are extremely cautious about what they say for fear of a vitriolic response.
And it's not necessarily people of other faiths (or none) they're concerned about. Some have reported that they avoid some topics of faith because they don't want to 'light the touchpaper' of others within the same faith.
Social media's selling points are arguably democratisation, free speech and spontaneity. It's easy to express a view. But it's also very easy for a counter-view to be expressed, and with some considerable force.
Have you experienced any reactions to faith-related Tweets, Facebook statuses or Instagram posts that have caused you to reconsider your involvement in that platform, or deterred you from posting on particular subjects? Please do tell us about it. You can fill in the questionnaire here, or email me in confidence at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I won't bite. Promise.