Belfast Telegraph

Why it looks like I will have to take Twitter to the next stage

By Nuala McKeever

Imagine a few years ago if someone had asked you, "Do you tweet?". You would no doubt have looked at them with your face contorted into an expression suggesting you'd just sniffed the armpit of a heavyweight boxer after 10 rounds, and replied, "Sorry?" or, if you're from the lower classes, "Wha'?"

But now, such an enquiry is commonplace. Or at least, not an occasion for indignation or confusion. We know what they mean by tweet. We may not tweet, or know how to tweet, or have any remote interest in tweeting, but we probably understand what the word refers to.

That's kind of where I've been since I first came across the concept of Twitter five years ago. I know that's when it was, because I signed on for it and took the handle @nules45, which was my age back then.

For half a decade that handle just sat there, sayin' nothin'. I felt no urge to take it out, wake it up and parade it up and down the Twittersphere. In fact, life seemed altogether full enough to me, without the addition of 140 character messages being sent and received every five minutes (or, in the case of the ex-Lord Mayor, Mairtin O Muilleoir, every five seconds!)

And then ... I came to do a show at the Edinburgh Fringe and all that changed overnight. Suddenly, there's a new "have to" in town – get tweeting!!!! I thought putting stuff on Facebook every day was 'with it', but no, that's kindergarten stuff in the world of social media. Twitter is a must, apparently, according to everyone under the age of 25, which seems to be who's running the world now. Tweet it or lose it. Tweet or die. She who Tweets wins, etc.

Oh lordy, the pressure!

So far, my dabbles in Twitter have produced the same sensations as watching footage of traders in the Stock Exchange, before it went digital. Remember the typical scenes, where trading would start and hundreds of men and women in jackets, standing up, facing a bank of information boards or screens, would all suddenly start shouting and waving their arms in the air, while other people, in differently-coloured jackets interpreted the sign language and wrote down bids and sales in a tornado of seemingly incomprehensible communication? Yeah, well, that's what Twitter seems to be to me.

Everyone's hashtagging and @-ing like mad, throwing gobbits and snippets and exclamations out into the ether like demented, attention-seeking, self-promoting bundles of insecurity and neediness. "See me! Look at me! Validate me! I'm here! I've got an opinion and a thumb to express it with! I'm worth something! I exist! Spread me around! Make me feel like I exist! Make me special! I'll make you special if you make me special! Look at how many ways I can make myself known here!"

How on earth does anyone FIND anything?! If you've ever doubted that there is no such thing as solidity, that everything is actually in a constant state of flux, at an atomic level, Twitter would convince you. Go, go, go! Constantly updating, moving, changing, shifting. And no quality control. It's a catwalk for EVERYTHING and everyone. And it's just about as exhausting as that would imply.

If Facebook's a gentle stroll in the park of virtual connection, Twitter is standing on the sidewalk in downtown Delhi, trying to be heard, while humanity seethes all around you.

So, here's me – "@edfringe @inthewindow 5* review for the play! Woo-hoo! Plse RT".

(Well if y'can't beat 'em, join 'em).

Game of Thrones did kids a favour

Never mind the economic benefits of Game of Thrones closing Portstewart Strand for two days, hurray for all the children in the area who've been saved from two, day-long endurance tests, disguised as "having fun".

"C'mon kiddies! Get your anoraks, wellies, fleeces and thick socks on – we're going to the beach!" Many, many memories of being foundered on that windswept strand in the name of family holiday time, clutching sand sandwiches in blue hands, the squawking of the gulls matched only by the chatter of tiny teeth, dreaming that someday, someone would invent either package holidays to Spain, or sunshine in Ireland. Brrrrrr ...

Leave them to decide Scot-free

I really do not get the No Vote approach to the Scottish referendum on independence. Now we have Judi Dench, Sting, Mick Jagger and Helena Bonham Carter all calling on Scots to stay in the Union because they're valued so much by their English friends, who wouldn't, by the way, dream of trying to tell them what to do, you understand.

Butt out! It's not your decision!

Aren't Scots old enough and wise enough to choose for themselves?

And if they do, isn't that what democracy is all about?

God save us all from well-intentioned English people!

Belfast Telegraph

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