Tag Archives: twitter

When Twitter gets real

I’ve noticed that something weird is happening recently. It’s the people in my phone. Turns out that I quite like some of them. And it turns out (MUPPET ALERT) that I don’t really like liking them.

I’ve always found a sort of freedom on Twitter, a confidence that I don’t have at the school gates or at social events. I’ve asked questions, engaged in debate, joined in with jokey chit chat about this and that. I don’t feel the pressure to be amusing that I feel when I’m feeling slightly out of my depth (as I feel slightly out of my depth about 99% of the time, and I am not remotely funny even when I try really REALLY hard, I suspect this is a trial for all around me). I’ve felt very free to come and go as I please with no strings attached – sometimes I drop in on Twitter for a chat a couple times a day, sometimes I don’t pick it up for a week or so – just depends how busy I am. But the great thing is when I do pick it up again, it’s all pretty much the same, and there’s no subtext or guilt for not having been around.

I’ve always regarded the people in my phone as being just that – people in my phone. People who I would never encounter in real life. And that makes them very easy to enjoy, because the whole anxiety thing about whether I’m funny enough, smart enough, a good enough parent, part of the gang or not – that whole ticker tape of stress that never, ever turns off in my day to day social interactions, is remarkable by its absence in my twitter life.

But over the last, I don’t know, the last few months, something has changed a bit. I have noticed now that if I don’t see someone in my feed for a while, especially if I know they are having a stressful time, I check in on their timeline to see if they’re around and ok. More often than not they are fine, and we’ve just been online at different times. But it’s nice to know that they’re ok. Sometimes they’re not – and in that case I’ll usually drop an @message or DM to let them know I am thinking of them. And to my utter amazement, this also happens the other way around too.

But that’s kind of nice, right? A bit of mutual looking out for each other is a GOOD THING, surely? Well, yes, of course it is…as long as it stops there. But it’s a slippery slope – one minute you’re checking on a twitter buddy and next thing you know they are becoming REAL PEOPLE with all the guff that entails…mostly, it must be said, my guff rather than theirs.

For example. Recently I read this post. It’s a very funny rant about shit writers (and there’s a lot more swearing where that came from, so Mother – don’t click that link. No really, DON’T). After I had spat my tea out laughing my way through it, I read it again, because it was funny, and true, and – then, a slowly rising tide of panic – OhmygodIknowshereadsmyblogwhatifsheisbloggingaboutMYSHITWRITING?  In the old days, I’d be all ‘oh well some random on Twitter thinks I’m a shit writer – meh’. Now, NOW, every time I sit down to write, the words SHIT WRITER flash up in front of my eyes like some sort of warning. Great.

Next thing,  a twitter buddy visited Cardiff with her kids for the day. She’s an anonymous blogger, so I don’t even know what she looks like, and I found myself thinking that we might have passed each other in the street and I’d never know. Then I found myself thinking oh god, what if we did, and she recognised me from my avi, and then I’d have had to be all funny and clever and stuff, or she’d have realised I’m an absolute bloody muppet. Or worse, what if we DID pass each other and she recognised me and RAN A MILE THE OTHER WAY so she didn’t have to meet me because she has already figured out the awful truth about my muppetry? Cue panic attack about someone who I have never met, and probably never will meet, who may or may not think I am a muppet.

See what happens when the people in my phone start being real? I start stressing about what they think. I start worrying that when they are talking about shit writers, they are talking about me. I start panicking that even though they are perfectly nice to me, they’re actually, inside, dying to get away. Clearly, as I said earlier, this is my guff rather than theirs. But still, I don’t need this! I LIKED it when the people in my phone were not real! I LIKED not being nervous and self conscious and having to pretend that my life is all under control and all that stuff that is so exhausting face to face. And now all that shit is coming to get me on twitter too…FFS. Is there NO escape?

Oops. I meant to write a funny post about twitter. It turns out I’ve written a horribly revealing post about social anxiety instead. And I STILL don’t know what to do about the people in my phone that I like that I don’t like liking. Except perhaps set up a new, amazingly funny and witty and totally non-anxious persona on twitter and find a whole load of new people to follow that I don’t like, yet.

Why I need to follow the Daily Mail

I love Twitter, for lots of different reasons.

I originally signed up back in 2008 because it seemed to take the bit I really liked about Facebook – the short status updates – and cut out the rest of the crap. Once I’d signed up I wasn’t really sure what to do – I only knew one other real life person on Twitter, so I followed them, and a couple of celebrities, and dipped in and out occasionally but didn’t really do much with it.  Six years later and things have changed – I spend a LOT of time on Twitter. I manage five accounts currently – three for work, one for the blog and one just for me.

Twitter is the place I go to for news, both mainstream and industry related; for something to read when I’m bored; to keep up with what’s going on in Cardiff, occasionally to have a rant; and often for a quick chat with a small bunch of folk who despite never having met, I quite like. It’s where I go to peek into the windows on different worlds that have always interested me – medicine, education, writing – as well as learn about stuff I’m interested in for work, or politically, or just because it takes my fancy at that moment. As such, I’d have said that using Twitter has made my world bigger rather than smaller – I get to listen in to, and take part in, conversations that I’d never be part of in my day to day life.

Because I generally filter work/blog people through to the relevant accounts, my personal timeline has become curated into a circle of people just like me.  Well, not *just* like me – that’d be a LOT of muppets. But people who have broadly the same outlook on life as me, or people with whom I’ve got something in common.

On my own timeline, I don’t tend to give people second chances – if someone tweets a racist comment once, they’re unfollowed. If someone advocates violence – unfollowed. Horribly sexist, or misogynistic? Unfollowed. Bully other people through twitter? Jump on the judging bandwagon about other people’s life choices? Behave in a generally ignorant way? Tweet something from the Daily Mail in a non-ironic or non-disgusted fashion? Unfollowed.

I get my current affairs fix from people who rail against injustice and stupidity. Polly Toynbee. Zoe Williams. Deborah Orr. George Monbiot. Owen Jones. Caitlin Moran. Fleet Street Fox. Jack Monroe. I follow people and organisations who are about making the world better – The Do Lectures. Nesta. The New Economics Foundation. UK Uncut. The World Development Movement. Fixers UK. UnLtd.

Well, this is all very lovely, isn’t it. My twitter timeline is like a lovely warm bath of me-ness.  And, relax.

But. BUT. I’ve only recently come to realise the problem with this. I have forgotten that once I get out of the bath of me-ness, there’s a whole other world out there. Because I follow the folk that are constantly raising awareness of how fucked up the UK is, I’m sort of of the opinion that there’s some hope. That, like me, everyone realises that the current political climate is about demonising the poor, about creating a subservient underclass, about creating myths to set the majority of us against one another, so we’re too busy scrapping to realise that our masters are rubbing their hands in glee at their ever increasing bank balances. Until recently, I genuinely believed that everyone knew and understood that, and I equally genuinely believed that because everyone knows that, our world would change for the better, and soon.

I had the shock of my life recently. I found myself idly wondering how badly UKIP were going to get trounced in the forthcoming elections, and how long it would be before they were a distant, slightly humorous memory. So I did some research, and whaddya know, they are actually on the up, and in a big and scary way. I mentioned this to the Husband, horrified, to be met with the reply ‘well, you spend all your time reading stuff, surely you KNOW that?’

No – I didn’t know that. I’m ashamed and a bit embarrassed to admit it, but I had no idea. My timeline is full of the Premier Inn YOU KIP poster, people tearing up UKIP flyers, and amusing and witty put downs of Nigel Farage. It’s full of people writing brilliant articles that have me nodding my head and make me furious along with the writer, and the mistake I’ve made is to assume that everyone else is nodding their head and is furious too.

I thought my timeline made my world bigger. In actual fact, I have made my world smaller.

I’m going to do some following this morning, of people that I would probably punch if I met them. Dishface. Farage. Littlejohn. The Daily Mail. I feel a bit ranty about adding to their so called standing in the world by following their gobshite, but if I don’t follow them, and people like them, then I’ll remain in my lovely bath of blissful ignorance, and that’s a bit too close to joining them rather than beating them.

Thanks for reading.

On naming and shaming

The first post I read this morning was @mummybarrow’s Ranty Friday on her twitter conversation with Dom Joly (whoever that is) about his use of the c word when referring to an experience with Cineworld. I’m 100% with Mummy Barrow on this one by the way – and I’m saying that as a swearer myself – have a read and see where you stand.

But I’m not going to talk about swearing on twitter, I’m going to talk about something I find even more offensive – ‘naming and shaming’. This kind of thing:

‘Awful customer service from XYZ at @asda Cardiff Bay today’

‘Would it be so hard to smile at your customers, XYZ @sainsburys in Roath?’

‘Not sure what you’re paying XYZ in your Cardiff branch for, @johnlewis, it’s certainly not for good customer service’

These are all paraphrased examples of tweets that I’ve seen – you’ve probably had similar ones pop up on your timeline. And more often than not these tweets are from people who have no idea how crap and demoralising a minimum wage job at the front line of retail/call centres/other service industry because they’ve never had to do it.

I DETEST this sort of tweeting. It’s no more and no less than bullying. It’s abusing one of Twitter’s great strengths – the ability to have a direct line to the brands you care about, and turning it into an anonymous hit and run, and one with no consequences or comebacks. Someone is going to get at least a bollocking, at worst lose their job, and without any opportunity to defend themselves.

If you think an organisation is being let down by its staff, by all means raise it through the proper channels. At least that way you give the target of your wrath the right of reply. If you don’t think whatever it is that bugs you is worthy of your time and energy in making a complaint, then sure, drop a quick – general – tweet to the company – they’ll probably value your feedback.

But don’t be a bully. Because if you indulge in throwaway ‘naming and shaming’ that’s what you are.

Here endeth my Ranty Friday lesson.