One hundred and forty characters is not nearly enough iconography to advance an entire philosophical debate, so it is no surprise that Rihanna recently took a bunch of shade for typing #FreePalestine on her Twitter account and more shade for yanking the controversial opinion offline several hours later.
She’s not alone in her out-of-boundness either — several celebrities have found themselves out of their element in tackling an issue that many of them don’t understand, or better put, shouldn’t be involved in. Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Mark Ruffalo, Selena Gomez and One Direction singer Zayn Malik have all drawn ire for their #FreeGaza tweets and comments that voice support for one side of the conflict over the other.
As NMR recently discussed, the Palestine/Israel issue is hundreds of years old and very nuanced. To attempt rhetoric in staccato Twitter bursts on a subject this impassioned is a fool’s folly. Even Helen Thomas, the vaunted White House press corps star, was fired for remarks she made concerning this very topic — this is not an area one should tread lightly in.
Twitter’s ability to project a casual thought to millions of people has been revolutionary in bringing the world closer together –Twitter is brilliant in that capacity. But there is a reason that celebrities have handlers and PR people and writers have editors: extemporaneous thought in most hands benefits from some rewriting and refining. Even Bar Refaeli, the Israeli-born model who has merely voiced support for her native people has taken flak for her Twitter postings — especially because she allegedly dodged her country’s compulsory military service for her modelling career.
Does this mean that Twitter should be limited to banal musings on who should win #AmericanIdol? Absolutely not — to do that would be to castrate the very beauty of Twitter’s accessibility and importance. But for as trendy as it might seem, voicing support for one side over the other when you are uninformed will wind up making you look about as socially graceful as Dwight Howard:
By all means, have an opinion. But research that opinion, refine it, test it against other opinions and determine if that opinion has meritable weight before you drop it on Twitter. It was Mark Twain who wrote — not on Twitter, mind you — “It is better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”