GIVE me one good reason I’d want to be on Twitter, a social networking-averse friend once said to me. And (with the exception of my own presence, natch), in the past couple of weeks, I’ve been wondering the same thing myself.
The whole place seems to have descended into the very worst kind of playground, where the naughty boys and girls (but mainly boys, let’s be honest) have run amok, slagging off the clever boys and girls in snide graffiti, setting off fire alarms and shoving toilet rolls down the sinks. If it really was school, strongly worded letters would be heading home to mums and dads as we speak, and Dumbledore would be threatening to cancel the end-of-term disco. Or something like that.
Well, enough is enough. And, in the interests of a little peace, love and understanding, I am stepping in. No need to thank me. The following – in no particular order – are just some of the best bits that have renewed my faith in humanity, raised a smile and given me a reason not to delete my Twitter account entirely.
Like, when I got bitten on holiday and asked Twitter for advice on what to do, a friendly doctor got in touch with all manner of helpful tips. When I said I was going to Uzbekistan, someone else suggested a load of great places to visit. And when I needed some new motivational running tracks on my iPod, Twitter came up trumps.
There was also the time I was leaving on an early flight to Rome and queried whether I should stay up all night drinking gin or try to get some sleep. I won’t insult your intelligence by reporting the overwhelming verdict. (But it involved gin. And staying up all night.)
There’s a sense of a worldwide community, you see – of making new friends and bonding with old and generally having a bit of a Twitter party. You’re all invited.
There are people on there who make me laugh. People like Caitlin Moran and The Poke and Tracey Thorn. And people who make me think, like Deborah Orr and Philippa Perry and Shaun Usher’s wonderful Letters of Note.
Whatever is happening in the world, you’ll hear it first on Twitter. It’s full of interestingly useful (or uselessly interesting) facts such as: humans have the same amount of hair on their body as a chimpanzee, and licking your wounds really does heal them.
And there are pictures of flowers. And kittens. So many kittens.
Best of all, I can stalk my teenage children, who feel comfortable telling Twitter much more than they’d ever dream of telling me.
So let’s hear it for the bonkers videos, bad puns and silly jokes. Who doesn’t love a silly joke? (“I got really emotional at the petrol station this morning. I don’t know what came over me, I just started filling up”; “I see Zoe Salmon has dumped her long term boyfriend. Ah well, plenty more fish in the sea”).
Now, come on, tell me you’re not at least sniggering a little. Not even a little lolz? Did I mention the kittens?