Last week at the Day Job, I heard a new announcement being made in court. Following the usual warning to switch off all mobile devices just before proceedings commenced, a rider was added: “Twitter is strictly forbidden in court”. Indeed, whilst recently working in Singapore I observed a notice was attached to every courtroom door banning the use of social media sites.
Twitter in particular is a very powerful and potentially dangerous tool which should come with a “Warning – Highly Flammable’ label. I am a fairly recent tweeter, having previously declared I would “never, never, never, never” sign up, a bit in the emphatic style of the late Reverend Paisley. (From what I remember he backed down too, but I don’t do politics on my blog so that’s another story) But sadly, Twitter is a necessary evil for anyone trying to promote a business, and for writers it is invaluable when building an author platform, a fact I quickly learned from reading Catherine Ryan Howard’s book ‘Self Printed’. All my favourite writers are out there on Twitter. It’s what you have to do. Writing can be a lonely old business and being connected up to others in the same predicament provides a great feeling of solidarity when up against a deadline, hopelessly blocked or dealing with family who think you should get a ‘proper’ job.
Accurately described by a friend of a friend as ‘shouting in the dark’, Twitter has a dark side as well as being a great place to reunite lost dogs with owners, promote your latest book or just look at pictures of adorable puppies. When I was at school, bullying took place in the playground; today there is the whole evil world of the troll. Also, good news spreads like lightning, as does bad. I will never forget the awful story a friend relayed of a colleague learning of her depressed husband’s suicide via a careless social media site remark; by the time the police knocked on the door to impart the news, it had been all over the internet. Not illegal in an way of course, but for that lady and her family absolutely devastating.
Twitter is hopelessly addictive. The fabulous Grace Dent’s book, ‘How To Leave Twitter’, sums it up perfectly and introduced me to such delightful vocabulary as ‘twunking’ and being pursued by an ‘angry twitchfork mob’. Neither has happened to me personally yet, the latter probably as I can’t get over my near phobia of the hated hashtag.
Having said all that, I enjoy anything that limits the public to a small and succinct amount of words rather than a long, rambling soliloquy. I like being in touch with my two main groups of Twitter friends, writers and dog lovers. Particularly writers who have dogs, surely the best people in the world.
I’m over on @RRidgwayWriter just in case you want to tweet me.