The kindness (and tolerance) of strangers

From the important to the insignificant, from Trafigura to the recent spat-in-a-Fry-ing-pan, it’s been Twitter’s role as an amplifier of anything and everything that’s been exercising a lot of journalists lately, many of whom should frankly have known better. But in this debate between Twitter as liberator of the masses and Twitter as dark engine waiting to be pressed into service as the preferred tool of some future Goebbels, I think its primary feature has become obscured. For Twitter is simply a means by which individuals may connect with others that otherwise they would never have known about. Whilst I would gladly have never been put in connection with yet another cock-sucking Britney, Twitter’s benefits greatly outweigh its annoyances.

I joined Twitter not only, like so many others, to be party to the flotsam and jetsam of Stephen Fry’s life and thoughts, but also in the hope that through it some might discover this blog and like it enough to read my stuff from time to time. Neither purpose any longer remains at the heart of my twittering, for they’ve been replaced by Twitter’s greatest gift; the discovery of kind and generous people whose thoughtfulness and empathy have left me, by turns, laughing and close to tears of gratitude. When I went for an interview recently I was touched by the number of fellow twitterers that wished me luck, and urged me to let them have it with both barrels. Or the number who’ve tolerated, even applauded, my lame efforts in the #oneletterwrongTVshows department.

Obviously enough, Billy No-Job is not my real name (oh, you thought it was?) and so none of the people I follow, or who follow me, know anything about me other than what they deduce from my tweets. So are we all deceived, our virtual selves entirely at odds with our real ones? Well, once in a while Twitter’s virtual and my real universes mix and mingle, and meeting Marcus Chown the other week proved beyond doubt that the kindness of Twitter is not illusory or deceitful. But whether, as in Marcus’ own words, you’re a micro-celeb, or just like me another anonymous tweeter, I want you to know that your kindness, tolerance, and support have meant more to me than I suspect you’d ever have imagined. Thank you all – you know who you are!


7 thoughts on “The kindness (and tolerance) of strangers

  1. Oh Bill, that is just how I and many others feel about twitter – wonderful to connect with others who show some interest in the often mundane details of our lives and share the details of theirs. I suppose it is ‘the kindness of strangers’. Also, it is the small titbits of information on what we eat, what we view, what we read etc that help us connect. Vive le tweet!

  2. I came to Twitter kicking and screaming, after writing a blog post months earlier about “who has the time?” and “too much information.” I finally took the plunge to follow the tweets of Magnum Photos. I was familiar with the kindness of virtual strangers, having written a blog for nearly four years and been fortunate to meet many bloggers in person and become friends. But Twitter has a unique ability, with its immediacy. It allows both communication and commiseration of like-minded individuals in a sort of rapid deployment fashion. That’s its power. So glad our paths have crossed!

  3. Lovely post! As a relatively newbie TwitterTart I echo your sentiments. Some of us have only this ‘virtual’ friendship network to support us

    • MrsSarahSiddons I presume?! I’m glad my post evoked a sense of recognition. I’ve never felt the need to dismiss virtual friendships. Indeed, I’ve just come back from meeting up with a virtual friend from Denmark, so the virtual can often become the real anyway!

      • Indeed, my cover is blown! lol. I am new to Tweeting, but via a website I co-admin I’ve made both virtual and real life friendships with people from all over the world (and travelled a fair bit in the past couple of years as a result)

        Hang on in there hun! It’s got to come good sooner or later! x

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