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 Neither purpose any longer remains at the heart of my twittering, for they’ve been replaced by Twitter’s greatest gift; the discovery of kind and generous people whose thoughtfulness and empathy have left me, by turns, laughing and close to tears of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!