I was very reticent to get onto Twitter. Why on earth would it be of any interest to anyone how I was conducting my days, and why on earth would I care how they went about theirs? It took much proselytising and a ready stream of drinks to have me reluctantly, whiningly, well-alright-I’ll-try-it-for a while-ly agree to pop my head round that particular door and see if it looked like a party I’d enjoy.
I twitter (I believe one twitters a tweet, but some seem to use ‘tweet’ as the verb, so I’m a little unsure) sporadically, with no particular agenda, mainly to pass on things that amuse. As this blog passes to the Twittersphere through the same feed, I figured less serious, personal tweets from me might balance out the grander posts from Mother Blog. Having said this, the number of my ‘followers’ (I prefer ‘disciples’, it’s just nattier) has grown to such proportions that I am, during quiet moments, wondering how I might go about embracing so many people to try something rather more nefarious. Bear with me, I’ll find something.
I try to scan at least my recent ‘mentions’ and replies as much as I can without endangering my career, getting run over or irritating my real-life companions to the point of violence. I’m aware that quite a proportion of these tweets boil down to people requesting I reply to them; a sadly insurmountable task given the numbers, were I to comply. So forgive me: I do read most tweets, and tend to DM a response to things I find interesting, but the numbers are huge and time is oftentimes sadly lacking.
I follow very few people, as I like to have only a manageable number of tweets pop up for worthwhile reading when I open up Twittelator, or Tweetie 2, or twatever. This is perhaps because I am a novice in this strange new world, and maybe I should throw myself in and follow anyone and everyone. For now, I have turned down requests to follow a good number of real-life friends for this reason, which shames me a little, and a million or so requests from friendly twitterers to do the same. As it is, I follow @stephenfry, because you get him free when you join Twitter; my co-conspirator and fluffer @andynyman, our own @lordcoopy and a small handful of other chums including the brilliant @serafinowicz.
As a performer with a public profile, Twitter puts me horribly close to real feedback, which is a mixed blessing. Very quickly one learns not to read reviews in order to remain sane (I don’t even read interviews or articles about myself any more), as one can skim past a hundred glowing comments and get to a single nasty dig which then eats away at one for days. And the internet has a habit of bringing out witless vitriol in people in a way that other fora tend not to. Politeness and decency are quickly abandoned by most when they are not face to face with those they criticise, and probably don’t even imagine that their comments might be read by the person in question. That one in a hundred comment, through some infuriating glitch in ones sensitivity, has a vastly disproportionate effect to the many positive ones which remain largely ignored. The lovely thing about Twitter is that, unlike reading blogs or online discussions, eighty percent of the comments are from people who are amiably disposed, and it warms the ego a little to delve into such kind thoughts, albeit sixty three times a day. The trick is to peripherally anticipate the occasional ‘@derrenbrown is a prick’ tweet, and jump past it still smiling, as it scrolls down into vision.
For those who find the thought of Twitter ridiculous, I do not presume to argue. Vapid and ludicrous, of course. I read a tweet from a tearful lady who had just received a hug from a person she didn’t know in the street and had decided on the spot to withdraw from Twitter (which had presumably taken up much of her time), implying that it was an empty place that bore no comparison to real-life relationships. Indeed it is, and should be no substitute for them. It is, most of the time, footling and featherbrained: luckily, we can enjoy plenty of things in life which are pretty inconsequential, and appreciate the wit and colour they add to our days. I can’t honestly think of a reason for the stuffed giraffe which is looking at me from my hallway other than I like it being there and it’s a fun place to hang scarves. But occasionally, with Twitter’s capacity to spread important ideas within moments, it can also be utterly majestic and invaluable. Though it has to be said you might not find that so much on my feed.
Right, I haven’t checked my mentions for almost twelve minutes now, so off you pop.