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Sinead Ryan: Tweeting twits who can't master art of sitting still

What have we come to when we've lost the ability to just 'be'? Sitting still and doing nothing has become an art form rather than a natural state and is mastered by very few.

Exam supervisors get paid €112 a day to do it and still some can't. One of them, Brian Og O Rourke, got fired yesterday from the lucrative job, which involves little more than sitting on a chair for a couple of hours and staring into space. He simply couldn't stop himself tweeting about what he was doing. Naturally, his actual experiences were too boring to post, so he embellished them but was caught tweets-down and sacked.

"I do pity the girls that have me supervising, im young, handsome & probably very distracting ha ha", the twit tweeted. Tragically for our dashing hero, in reality he was supervising a lone candidate in a special centre, but hey, isn't that the beauty of Twitter -- you can make out like you're Mr Wonderful, albeit with limited grasp of the English language -- ironically the exam he was supervising.

His insight into this was revelatory: "Thankfully, i did mine a couple of years ago, then again, you dont get stressed by an English exam really, i mean, you speak the language, so". Well, some of us do, Brian.

The exam bosses said it was unacceptable and reminded all the other supervisors of their onerous responsibility: mobiles are banned as are books, papers, writing letters and ... bizarrely, sewing and knitting. Lest they prove subversive, presumably.

When I supervised Leaving Cert exams aeons ago, we were allowed read a book. I mean, there's a severe danger you'd actually go barmy otherwise. But apparently it's a big no-no these days.

Pity the exam commission isn't in charge of the Houses of the Oireachtas where tweeting and texting away during boring Dail speeches is almost a given. In fact, it's a rule -- after members were encouraged to tweet their doings to a fascinated electorate during rule changes last month.

Of course, tweeting is seen as the seditious force it is in lots of places. Both the Dutch and Spanish teams have been banned from tweeting during the World Cup by their coaches lest they post something un-sportsmanlike.

In the US, Rod Blagojevich, on trial for allegedly attempting to sell Barack Obama's senate seat, discovered Twitter during the more boring stretches of the proceedings only to have the judge promptly ban it.

Even our own Willie Walsh, now in a fierce important job running British Airways, moaned about union representative Derek Simpson's tweeting during last ditch talks to avert a strike.

His updates alerted followers (including some particularly fractious members of the Socialist Workers' Party, it has to be said) to the secret venue of the meeting along with breathless updates of progress (or not, as it happened).

Anyway, exam commission people -- I have a brilliant solution: instead of jittery students, you should employ mothers of young children as supervisors. Sitting still and doing nothing for more than five minutes is a luxury they would pay for.


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