Lisa Markwell: What's wrong with a good old-fashioned love letter

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I don't like to intrude on public grief but what the TV personality Melanie Sykes must feel right now certainly isn't "private".

For those of you who don't follow celebrity news, she has hit the headlines for a series of tweets to her lover. These were some distance past romantic, leave lewd in the dust and might best be described as coarse. I shan't repeat them here.

By articulating her not-so-sweet nothings on Twitter – a communication tool best described to me as "a megaphone rather than a telephone" – they have become common knowledge. Did she get confused between a regular message (available for all to see) with a Direct Message (just between two people)? It is a relatively easy mistake to make once, but this was a litany of messages. Tweeters can spot a rookie by such, er, cock-ups, and when someone tweets just a name (when what they were trying to do was search for someone, but got the boxes mixed up. Rupert Murdoch has made this error with a "louise mensch" tweet).

Ms Sykes, perhaps, thought it sexy and fun and – well – a good way of getting some publicity. In the latter quest, she has been successful, but, oh, Melanie, they're laughing at you, not with you. It is as if a bloke drove past her in the street and shouted "show us your tits" out of the car window. And then she did.

What really matters, I suppose, is that she has two young children and that nothing really disappears from the internet. Everyone's had the odd embarrassing moment, from drunken hen night snap to over-the-top complaint letter that we'll regret when someone spots it on a Google search. But this is in another realm. My son friended me on Facebook years back and now that he's a teen I never tag him in any pictures to save him getting ribbed by his peers (I'll save that Easter egg bonnet snap for his wedding ...)

Children are infuriating, and they embarrass us often. But it's the job of a grown-up not to embarrass them back. So, Mel, if you want some loving with your boyfriend/ Twitter fan (oh yes), send the kids to their dad's, lock the door and get it on with the app turned off.


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