I’m a twit on Twitter

2 May

I didn’t want 2012 to be a year for giving up anything. I barely smoke anymore, I don’t particularly like Christian Louboutin shoes, and I don’t have a Shame style addiction to sex. But 2012 has proved to be the year of wasting time on the Internet, or more specifically, Twitter. It’s time to end this draining relationship, albeit temporarily. I’d like to think that when I’ve learnt how to use it properly, it will take me back with no questions asked.

If Twitter were a person, I’d write it a letter (or DM it) with the following: “I’m leaving. It’s not you, it’s me. You’re great, but I don’t know how to treat you well. If you’ll allow me some time, I’m sure we can be together one day” The message would end there, because I’d have used up nearly all of my 140 characters.

I’ve always been nosey. When I recently went to Paris, it suddenly dawned on me how like the locals I am. I’ve always wondered why Parisians stare. And yet, while looking at them and wondering why they find everyone else around them so interesting (and the very reason why all of their cafes have chairs that face outwards, towards the street) I realised I was doing exactly the same.

When I observe others, I dream up whole lives: I regularly fantasise about couples on the tube. Not often relating to their sexual dalliances, I might add, but usually about what they might have had for dinner, or if they watch crap on the box or prefer to read Yeats whilst propped up in bed together. And while I’m imagining all of this, I’m usually staring right at them, goggled eyed and mouth wide open, just like my goldfish of a father. It’s not an attractive look, and I really need my sister with me at all times to alert me to the fact that I’m doing this, usually with a sharp stab in the ribs.

You can imagine then, how Twitter fares with the likes of me. I joined years ago (I had to be the early adopter of something other than internet dating back in 1995, when only sex pests and compulsive liars joined) when working for a research agency. I was looking at the shopping habits of teens. They tweeted in a way that led me to believe that Twitter would always be the playground of the very young and very illiterate. “YAY! Skinnie Jeans at Topshop are KEWL. But the changing room smells of piss and the assistants are rood.” Twitter was strange. It was new. I really didn’t think that it would ever be something for me.

But then, a couple of years after I first joined (forgetting that I’d even set up an account) a friend followed me. He was my age and quite sensible. I thought I’d give tweeting a whirl. At first, I used my 140 characters to describe the odd, embarrassing things that were happening in my life. Like blocking the loo at work (12 employees, only one bog), and having to call out a plumber to bring his plunger around and unblock it (at the bargain price of £120). I tweeted “Sadly, the plumber is the better looking brother of Johnny Depp and now he has my shit on his hands.” At that time I was followed by about 7 people, one of whom was a vodka company. I don’t know who I was writing for, but it felt good to confide in someone.

Strangely, my lack of followers (I still rank in the ‘unpopular’ stakes) has never bothered me or been the reason why I spend hours scrolling up and down my timeline. My love, or more likely addiction to Twitter is linked very strongly to my nosiness. Twitter is like finding an open all hours party den, oozing with free drugs that have no bad after effects. I can indulge in serious investigative work (i.e. finding out what people have had for lunch, where they work and live and who they hung out with last night.) It’s like Facebook without the fiddle-faddle of ‘Liking’ something or having to scroll through endless pictures of much richer and more successful friends, on their expensive holidays (and if truth be told, Facebook just makes me bitter and jealous.)

If I knew how to use Twitter properly, I’d be a powerhouse of knowledge, and have a keen understanding of all wars, media fallouts and public sector issues. I’d be able to quote worthy people; I’d know what the shape of the next season’s trouser was going to be; I’d have an opinion on Grimes garnered from ten of the country’s best pop critics. But no. Unfortunately, I usually have more of a handle on a conversation between a little known fashion blogger (I liked the look of her fringe on her Avatar) and her quite annoying actor boyfriend. I am baffled by the fact that they call each other ‘Kooks’ and, like a stalker, I know where they’re going to be come Friday night. Useful information indeed.

Of course, Grace Dent has written a far more witty and eloquent book on ‘How to leave Twitter.’ But I can’t read it at the moment, because, for now I have time on my hands to actually listen to my family when they are talking to me (rather than stabbing energetically at my phone screen), read something useful from a book (no room for distraction there) and get on with some proper, money earning work. And if you do follow me (and it’s unlikely, because like I said, most of mine are alcohol producers or people that live in the US and tweet furiously about the benefits of breastfeeding their children post 3 years old) then you have full permission to cyber spank me write off the timeline. I’ll report back by other, safer, no ‘room for being nosey’ mediums.


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