This is apparently the hot new appropriation of everyone's favorite 140-word medium. And it's tacky. Also, not legally binding.
We all know celebrities are different. In a strange essay, last week Ashton Kutcher defended cyber-flirting in Elle. Not because anyone asked. (And given his track record of public foreplay, maybe he's an authority.)
Here's the latest, a bigger story across the pond than here, for obvious reasons: Liz Hurley's being accused of a marriage-ending affair with cricket star Shane Warne. And, says the BBC, Twitter was the medium.
But instead of simply using it to give their fans a news flash about their romantic status, Hurley and Warne exchanged flirtatious tweets that could be read by anyone. What's more, Hurley had yet to announce the end of her marriage."Sammy [her spaniel] sends you a special lick and says he'd like to put his silky head on your shoulder," was a tweet in November from Hurley to Warne.
Not that incriminating, really, but still a sign of the times: such a thing would have been not merely impossible but inconceivable a few years ago. (And in numerous cases, twitter and Facebook evidence has been used in divorce proceedings.) Maybe celebrities are more into this thing than the average slob on the street because A) They presume people care and B) They're right. It's also a canny means of managing PR under the guise — kind of — of relatable spontanaiety. Let's not forget the element of exhibitionism inherent to flirt-tweeting: Kutcher likened such things to whispers; they're more like PDAs.
Given the abovementioned reasons — plus the arguable levity with which marriage is treated in certain tinseltown circles — perhaps it's inevitable that Twitter should have become a vehicle for announcing divorces. In the past few months, Kelsey Grammer, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy and Eva Longoria all replaced the time-tested PR statement with a tweet. Maybe they feel like their fans deserve to hear it from them. Come to think of it, anyone who follows Kelsey Grammer on Twitter might feel that way, too.
But herein lies the danger of imitating celebrity behavior. Apparently one guy did this...without consulting the wife he was divorcing, writing "'My wife has left me, I wasn't good enough, isn't that a shame" before she'd had a chance to tell her friends or family. Says she, "I think he didn't want to be seen as anything other than wronged party, but it was a massively inappropriate way of displaying feelings - these things can't be explained in 140 words."
Our concerns are more with civility. Please don't let this become a thing. Like Scientology and colonics, it can stay the exclusive purview of the celebrity parallel universe.
Legally, she's right. As one divorce lawyer opined on the Divorce Saloon forum,
To say that you "twittered" your intentions to divorce your spouse to your followers on Twitter and that that is somehow enough "notice" of a pending divorce action? That that would be tantamount to "personal service" as required by statute? I don't think the day will ever come.