My Dad has some sort of celebrity event radar. He has so far broken 3 massive celebrity stories to me (and one weather warning, which ultimately should have been heeded). He has broken Brittany Murphy, Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse’s deaths to me, while myself and my iphone languished in our superiority, safe in the knowledge that the news will come to us. And it does, but clearly not often through the channels I would expect.
Last week, I was actually only two streets away from Amy’s house when I read the text that threw me onto Twitter. This is how it goes for me now. Sensationalist text or call from Danny-the-All-Seeing and a quick verify on twitter, or Google and – I can’t believe it, he’s done it again!
Report after report show Twitter user numbers growing while other social networks languish in developing countries; I hazard a guess that Twitter is so huge because while we may become bored of other people’s lives, we never tire of other people’s opinions. It’s the global water cooler. Gossip from every corner of the globe, every ethnic group, every age range represented. Only this morning Chris Evans increased Jeremy Vine’s (@thejeremyvine) followers by up to 20,000 in his morning radio show, which is possible because ‘everyone’ is on it.
So entrenched in Facebook and updates from people who should have been unfriended years before but for the politics of the act, Twitter was freeing when I finally came to it and I may be still relatively new, but I love it. Grace Dent recently said “With all Twitter users there is a definite tipping point between ‘not understanding’, then suddenly ‘getting it’ and then finally life without Twitter feels very dull indeed. Like wading through glue, last in the loop to know”. Completely true.
My eureka moment was at a conference where I found out that the twitter icon I had downloaded to clutter up my iphone screen had a function. It was a day of revolution, new language; new abbreviations. How do they know what to ‘hashtag’? my housemate and I wondered (internally), because we were the only people there not speaking ‘twitter’. Shown as a relic in the company of your peers is uncomfortable so I spent the day acclimatising. Sailing through conference session after conference session, and even the closing speech, watching the action on my phone. Is this really an improvement? I was in the room, I was physically there, listening, but looking to all intents and purposes as if I was arranging my social life for all anyone knew.
Like anything it became addictive. I was incapable of watching Britain’s Got Talent (#BGT), Coronation Street (#Corrie), Question Time (#BBCQT) without checking Twitter. The camaraderie is nice. The jostle of opinions, the obscurity of the references, the occasional hostility of haughty celebrities (@duncanbannatyne). There is something about being a part of a global conscience which is warming to our sensibilities, like you are the most connected person in the world. Even though you may only be being followed by creeps and weirdoes.
Nevermind in The Future, this is how news will be (is?) from The Present. In time it will become a staple of your day, like grabbing a Metro on the way into work, like watching the Ten O’Clock News. Like your preference of a newspaper over an ebook, or The BBC to ITV, everyone will be informed in different ways but much like The Beeb, and often still in 140 ill-abbreviated characters, Dad remains my preferred news feed of choice.
NB: in Whitney Houston’s tragic death and the February London snows, Dad was unknowledgeable and has thus made a mockery of this article. Apologies.