Monday, 17 October 2011

Play nicely!

Did you see that report in the Telegraph: Twenty Tweets to make your Toes Curl? It makes interesting reading for anyone who regularly uses Twitter, as I do. Based on a Debrett's guide to remaining civil online, the basic premise seems to be that under the PC or Smart Phone cloak of anonymity we can and do say things we'd never dream of saying face-to-face.

Which might, of course, be a good thing. Because sometimes social situations force us to censor what we should be open and honest about saying. ('That cake was, well... frankly dreadful. Please don't bake it again.')

But... Ah, but. They've got a point, haven't they, about online conversations? My elder daughter recently attained the qualifying age for Facebook. (Not that age seems to matter that much; there are kids on there she knows - younger siblings of her friends - who seem to be as young as seven!) Anyway, the point is not all the status updates that she reads are well, as pleasant as they might be. Neither are they all that accurate. She's a strong girl, and with a shake of her head she simply deleted her account when it all got a bit too much. None of the nastiness was directed at her; but she couldn't reconcile the smiles in the corridor at school with the slightly sinister bitching that seemed to emanate from certain people's bedrooms in the evening.    

I'm sure it's the same across all forms of social media. Twitter is a lovely, friendly world most of the time but I've witnessed the occasional Twitter spat. And that's not all. As the Telegraph article states, there are a few other things that don't make for very edifying reading: self-promotion (guilty), tweeting about household chores (guilty); 'What Did I Miss?' tweets (guilty); teasers (guilty).

Oh dear. On this evidence I'm going to have to seriously re-think my tweeting policy. On the other hand there are quite a few of the social media solipsism's I don't believe I've ever done, like one-word tweets ('Help!'); tweets about sex or my own personal bête noire: 'I'm bored.' As the article says, 'you're on the internet; go learn something.'

I do believe Twitter is a force for good. Look at the role it's played in mobilising protest movements, even changing governments. And I like online friendships. Twenty years ago you had to make do with the people you worked with, had shared a classroom with or met at the tennis club. Now you can really find those people who share your interests and outlook on the world. It's wonderful!

And so are some of their tweets. Here's a random selection of just three from my recent time-line:

@MikeJarman: what if space is like the groves on an LP. We measure the track from A to B along the groove. Whereas, neutrinos may track directly?

@leni_lava: Fag SIR! Please SIR! me SIR!? (you had to be there!)

@sundayhandbag: Independent schools have always been much better at discipline than state schools. ;) (this in response to my tweet about having read that Sevenoaks School has a Master in charge of Shooting)

All good stuff. And there's plenty more where that came from.

But what about you? What kind of tweets makes your toes curl? And which - or whose - are the best?


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