Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 August 2019

Remember, liking a tweet about Russell Brand's lack of parenting skills won't actually change anything

Brand is apparently too enlightened to do any of the leg-work involved in looking after children, but are the 9,900 people who liked a tweet about the issue achieving anything?

Russell Brand doesn't change nappies, sure, but us all liking a tweet on the matter is as ineffectual as his practical parenting skills. Photo: AFP 
Russell Brand doesn't change nappies, sure, but us all liking a tweet on the matter is as ineffectual as his practical parenting skills. Photo: AFP 

I’m pleased that Britain took a moment out of its new national sport of rabidly dissecting new Brexit permutations to have a good old Twitter hack-off at Russell Brand, kicked off with a tweet by Guardian fashion columnist Hadley Freeman.

Brand was quoted as saying he was too enlightened to do any of the leg-work involved in looking after children.

“Yes, I’m very, very focused on the mystical connotations of [his daughter] Mabel’s beauty and grace,” he said. "Not so good on the nappies and making sure they eat food.”

On which Freeman commented: “Russell Brand pitching himself as some New Age, all new, mature and sensitive dad - and then saying he’s too sensitive to do any actual parenting is the most Russell Brand thing I’ve ever read in my life.”

It seems to have struck a chord. Firstly, because of widespread disgust at the figure of Russell Brand himself, who has built his career on exploiting the supply of sympathy people have for former drug addicts who have turned their lives around. And secondly, because it plays into the idea that, however 21st century they claim to be, men do no housework.

Guess what? No one is into changing nappies, or scrubbing toilets

I personally skimmed past the Russell Brand controversy yesterday to read a thread from the US where a man was the only person in the house to realise that his step-son had brought home a lady the night before, and her shoes were still by the door the next morning.

He was wondering whether the step-son was going to succeed in ushering said lady-friend out unseen while his wife was preoccupied with the “Saturday morning clean”.

Then, when a number of people pointed out that he too could pitch in, he posted a picture of himself doing a certain hand gesture next to some (admittedly tasty-looking) sandwiches he had just made. Caption: “You don’t know my life.” But, I probably do, @dropsnopanties, and not just because that’s your Twitter handle.

I’ll start with: you probably are not into scrubbing toilets. I’ll also go out on this Russell Brand-inspired limb: you’re also probably not into changing nappies. That’s because no one is into scrubbing toilets. No one is into changing nappies. And no one is even into coaxing small children to eat.

Tweeting, or liking tweets, is the modern-day 'cup of tea'

Do you know what people are into? Liking things on social media that make them feel justified about their life choices — especially when that does not correspond to their present realities. Sometimes, when I am doing housework, I take a break to retweet things making fun of Trump or to applaud certain witticisms about British politicians.

I invariably like something @HindMezaina says, and I retweet any information about art shows in Abu Dhabi. Then, I pick up some Octonauts off the floor, deposit them in an Ikea container, and life goes on.

I’d be better off googling “how to make your children pick up their own damn Octonauts", reading the actual news, or even texting my long-suffering parents, but I’d rather look at my feed. That’s because tweeting is now like having a cup of tea. It’s just a little pause, albeit one that generates user data that can be monetised by Silicon Valley and/or manipulated by shadowy political organisations.

It’s not the fact that Russell Brand can’t be bothered to cut a carrot into batons that should be a surprise, but that — at the time of writing — 9,900 people sat down and liked Freeman's tweet about a B-list TV star they had in all likelihood entirely forgotten about, whose opinions on mysticism in no way alter the facts of their lives, and whom they will never, ever meet in real life.

I’m not saying that those 9,900 people didn’t have a point, just that I’m not sure they actually made one. Let’s ensure men do housework, but let’s also have a sense of perspective about why we like things on Twitter, and how much we think we can actually achieve.

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Read more from Melissa:

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Updated: January 21, 2019 10:10 AM

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