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Are we getting fed up with Twitter? Rapper Professor Green is bored with the social network, so could its popularity be fading?

By Joanne Sweeney

Given its overwhelming popularity around the world, it might seem a little facetious to imagine that Twitter could be on the wane in people's hearts.

After all, the social networking tool just this week boasted record numbers of tweets for a sports game during the annihilation of the Brazilian football team in the World Cup, with more than 35 million tweets, peaking at 580,166 interactions a minute.

For one hip and happening cultural figure, though, it seems Twitter has most definitely lost its cool.

Acclaimed English rapper and singer/songwriter Professor Green has apparently taken the hump with Twitter, vowing to "reboot" his digital history on his profile.

The 30-year-old – who's married to former Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh – recently 'unfollowed' 1,600 other people and deleted several thousand of his tweets amid his reported concerns of spreading the "inner inanity of his brain".

The man who tweeted an average of 27.5 times a day to create a 54,000-tweet history said: "I've been on Twitter since January 2009, and I'm tired of the digital diarrhoea that has spewed forth from my fingers in the 140 character format."

He added that he wanted to use Twitter in a different way.

However, just days later, the Hackney-born star issued a series of cryptic tweets before tweeting a link to his two million followers to a new video to promote his latest track, 'Not Your Man'.

He also got into a bit of bother from health campaigners who expressed concerns that he was encouraging young women to diet to be ultra-slim after he tweeted "Thinspiration" in response to a pic of his very slender wife in a bikini.

Whether the tool's popularity will last for years to come or not may remain to be seen, but in the meantime we ask three well-known Twitter users from Northern Ireland about whether it's best 'to tweet or not to tweet'.

'I really just don't have the patience for social media'

Lucy Evangelista is a model and commercial advert actress from Ballymena, now living in London. Mum to two-year-old Leila Grace, the 28-year-old former Miss Northern Ireland and Miss World contestant, is expecting her second child this Christmas. She's tweeted 5,000 times and has 1,700 followers. She says:

I tweet about once a day and I do tweet pics for work purposes. I suppose it keeps me in the loop as I haven't been able to work much recently as I've been so sick with this pregnancy.

I find the whole thing (social media) a total load of rubbish to be honest. I'm not good with Twitter, and I don't think I tweet too much. I really just don't have the patience for social media at the moment.

I only follow 200 people on Twitter and they are the 200 people that I want to follow and know more about.

I understand mostly what Professor Green says but I don't think that you can ever really delete everything off the internet.

So if he's tweeting too much personal information, or following people who tweet too much boring, everyday stuff, well, that's down to him, isn't it?

If I use Twitter or Facebook, it's more of a photo blog as I'm obsessed with photos.

I don't even follow celebs as such. For me I don't think Twitter and Facebook are the same thing. I use Facebook now really just to keep in touch with my friends and family, particularly since I moved over to London.

Some people freaked out that I have a Facebook page for Leila, but it was purely because I live in London and I have no family around me. This way they get to see her every day."

'If it's just about me, me, me then of course it's boring'

Former Hollyoaks actor Gerard McCarthy has sent out more than 20,000 tweets so far to his 109,000 followers. The 33-year-old from Belfast, who appeared in the first series of The Fall, is currently rehearsing for the world premiere of Michael Poyner's new play Jonathan Harker and Dracula at the Theatre at the Mill, Newtownabbey, running from September 18 -27. He says:

I started to use Twitter when I was still in Hollyoaks. I was advised to create my own profile as the show's Press officer had found out that someone was tweeting under my name and saying inappropriate things. The only way that Twitter would close the other one down was if I would create my own. So I didn't go on to Twitter because it was cool to do it, or anything.

I really didn't get it at first and I kind of grew into it. I follow people that interest me as well as my friends.

I must tweet every day so that's quite a lot. Professor Green has tweeted twice as much as me, so it's a bit rich of him to be complaining about it.

What I find interesting about him is that he didn't delete his Twitter account. If you are bored with Twitter, delete your account. Don't go on and delete your tweets and cause a whole hoo-hah and stay on with your two million followers. If you are going to do it, do it wholeheartedly, don't use it as a PR stunt.

He's obviously very popular with his fans so he's not prepared to delete that stamp of popularity, it's bit of a double standard for my liking.

To me Twitter is so representative of celebrity – you either recognise it and see how fickle it is or you buy into the whole b******t of it and it will spit you out at the other end.

Instead of using that to feed your own ego, you might as well make some good use out of it.

I follow 588 people on Twitter but that doesn't mean that I religiously go through the tweets of all them.

To me, Twitter is a very light-hearted, frivolous thing and not to be taken too seriously. The good thing about it is that you never get bored and it's great to while away a few minutes if you are standing at the bus stop.

I think it's a great way of tailoring a news stream to your phone on things that you are genuinely interested in. If you are complaining that it's wasting all your time or you are reading things that don't interest you, then it's your own fault. If they bore you, unfollow them.

Twitter embodies everything that we call celebrity. If you use celebrity or Twitter to post pics of yourself – if it's just inane 'me, me, me' things – then yes, of course, after a while you will begin to get bored with yourself.

But if you are going to use it to try and promote what's important to you or if you are passionate about a cause, then each to their own."

'I'm happy to share inane personal stuff'

Alex Kane is a newspaper columnist and political commentator who has tweeted more than 19,000 times and has nearly 9,000 followers. He lives in Belfast with his partner Kerri and their children, Megan (15) and Lalih-Liberty (4). He says:

Twitter is the only social media that I use and I do so mainly because other media folk told me that it was very useful for freelancers as you can get your thoughts and ideas out there.

So from a personal point of view, it's been absolutely wonderful and has generated a lot of work for me.

I'm quite lucky in that I only follow about 300 people and they are mostly other journalists and people who are personal friends who interest me.

It's not unusual for me to share personal stuff on Twitter that some people might think of as inane.

But as a newspaper columnist I've shared stuff about my pets, my family, personal beliefs, and my love of Sherlock Holmes for years. So I think the majority of followers know what to expect of me by now.

I do tweet pics of the cats, the dogs and the kids and I talk about my neighbours so you generally get my outlook on life as well as my work.

And if they don't like any of the tweets that I send out, or I bore them, well, that's fine if they unfollow me.

I'm not going to tailor my life just for my followers. But I do like to think that the people who have followed me over the last two years enjoy what I'm doing.

I'm not one of these people who chase or count followers. I could probably get about 20,000 followers in six months if I took a certain line on unionism or loyalism. But I don't promote rows on Twitter so I don't take the 'Shock Jock' approach and try and take a middle of the line approach."

The dark side of online celebrity

  • While they might love the concept of speaking directly to their fans, stars and celebs often have a love/hate relationship with Twitter.
  • The direct, unfiltered access that they have with their tens of thousands of followers can sometimes go badly wrong.
  • X-Factor singer James Arthur found that his fans can be as quick to turn against their Twitter idol as they do to follow him.
  • The 25-year-old temporarily came off Twitter after legions of fans criticised him for what was an thought to be a homophobic lyric in one of his songs.
  • While he removed the offending track and apologised for any offence caused in November, 2012, he said that he would be coming off Twitter for good and his management would be handling his account in future.
  • Meanwhile Sally Bercow, the colourful wife of the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, became one of the first prominent UK people to have libelled someone on Twitter last year – following a comment about Conservative peer Lord McAlpine.
  • She now has virtually closed down her profile. The only tweet now reads: "I have apologised sincerely to Lord McAlpine in court – I hope others have learned tweeting can inflict real harm on people's lives."

Belfast Telegraph


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