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 rubbish. 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 fashion? Tweet something from the Daily Mail in a non-ironic or non-disgusted way? 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 messed 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 rub 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 people 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 bile, 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.