When I set up my Twitter account a few years ago, I only took the occasional nervous look around. I didn’t really like what I found. It was like walking into a gigantic room – no, not a room, an aircraft hangar – full of strangers, half of whom were talking in a language I didn’t understand.
#Blahblahblah @gobbledigook @I’venoideawhatyouareonabout #brainfreeze @smartalec
Weird people started to follow me and I would block them in a panic. After each venture into Twittersphere I returned to facebook, like a child running back to the comfort of its parent after an encounter with a creepy-looking stranger. On facebook I know who everyone is and what they say makes sense.
But I have been forced to get to grips with Twitter. To blog you must tweet, I was told. And, if you want to self-publish a book, which is what I’m planning to do, then Twitter is invaluable.
So I started tweeting and following in earnest – and within a week my followers had more than quadrupled. Who are these people? I’ve mostly no idea. But I’m learning to welcome the unknown, the mind-boggling array of different folk who start following you. Many, I soon realised, have something to sell, but that’s ultimately what I’m doing there, too, so I can’t blame them for it. And I’ve discovered that if you help them – by reading, commenting, sharing – they will help you in turn.
As I learn to sift through incomprehensible tweets (using hashtags – yes, they do have a purpose!), I’ve found some gems – mainly, for me, the supportive writing and blogging communities, but also the funny people. The one-liners out there on twitter have had me belly-laughing on many occasions now.
On the darker side, I’ve already seen the awfulness of trolling. I started following Saira Kahn as I admire her speaking out for women’s rights, especially in the Muslim world. She tweeted something funny about Harry Styles and ended up with hundreds of venomous ugly tweets from 1D fans. How freaky! She has reported them all to the police – good for her. It was shocking to see what some teenagers consider acceptable to write in a totally public arena.
In addition to Twitter, there is also the blogging world itself. What an array of sites, from polished professionals with staggering numbers of followers to amateur diary-like entries; fashion & beauty, food and parenthood seem to be especially popular topics, I guess because they represent everyday life. I’ve discovered the therapeutic qualities of blogging – it gives an outlet for thoughts and observations which normally don’t get a chance to be voiced. It doesn’t really matter if anyone reads it; it’s the writing of it that counts.
(that last sentence is a lie).
Thanks for reading!