With over 2.1 million followers and more than 21.8k tweets on Twitter, it is unusual for British writer and actor Stephen Fry to describe social media as “dispiriting, upsetting and annoying.”
“It is dispiriting, upsetting and annoying to be not able to have a discussion on hot button issues without provoking a hornet’s nest within social media,” Fry said at the ongoing Jaipur Literature Festival.
According to the 58-year-old writer, arguments and debates on social media often take an ugly turn making it difficult to have a discussion on important issues such as gender, politics and national politics.
“In social media we have these awful bruising encounters when it is just impossible at any level to talk about gender politics, national politics, nationalist politics…
“Maybe we need to go back to a more civilized period in which people can sit together and talk in a symposium form rather than throwing out darts from the comfort of their mobile phones or computers,” Fry said.
The comedian said people tend to forget the importance of a comic vision or a comic mode.
Stating that the name twitter itself implied something “inconsequential and trivial,” he said, “All these things are ways of not taking yourself too seriously. We tend to forget the importance of a comic vision or a comic mode.”
In another surprising revelation, Fry said he hated the currently raging phenomenon of clicking selfies and that he would turn down any request to take one.
“I hate selfies. I am happy to sign things because at least I can look in your eyes and have a conversation,” he said.
The presenter who has penned three volumes of his memoir, ‘The Fry Chronicles’ said that he was “always fascinated” by casting himself as the hero of his life.
Fry, whose brazenly honest memoir talks about his unstable youth and erstwhile cocaine addiction, said that he chose to write about himself for that would spare his parents any such embarrassment.
“For me writing is an act of expiation and apology to my family for having gone to prison when I was 17 years old and embarrassing them in every possible way you can embarrass parents, who were the most decent kind.
“In writing my book, I didn’t want to embarrass them further so I kind of felt that the only person whom I can be brutally honest in writing is myself. Everybody else didn’t deserve to have their life opened up,” he said.
Fry also spoke on his friendship and long association with fellow actor Hugh Laurie, with whom he “fell in love in a comical sort of way”.
The comedian also shared nuggets of delightful information like how J K Rowling had made it a point to use the phrase “Harry pocketed it” in almost all the books of her Harry Potter series specifically after Fry complained that he was having trouble pronouncing it.
Fry claimed to be “the last man alive” who knew the reason why the late Douglas Adams’s book “the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” contained a central joke: “The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” The mention had mystified literary fans for a long time. “It is more about the journey of discovery,” Fry said.