Twitter vexed me over the holiday.
For the few days I was away over the bank holiday, Twitter was my media. It’s where I kept up to date with the news, and what people were talking about. I didn’t have much network access. There was free WiFi in the hotel, but only in inconvenient spots, and the 3G only came through if you opened the windows. Since it was pissing down with rain for much of the time, that didn’t happen much.
Recently, I’ve been following quite a few people involved in education, and others whose tweets struck me as coming from like-minded people. I don’t tend to follow the big celebrity tweeters because (a) they tend to tweet and retweet too much and too often and (b) you can go off people surprisingly quickly.
(On the question of (b), it can be quite upsetting to become irritated with someone you previously admired. Twitter is an online version of that old saying, “Never meet your heroes.” )
Anyway, my timeline has of late been filled with quite a lot of anti-government sentiment in particular focused on their education policy; but also, and quite by coincidence, republicanism. Which was probably the reason why my stream erupted with frustration and rage over the Jubilee weekend.
Now, I ignored the Jubilee in ’77 (no street parties down our way), and was completely unaware of it ten years ago (I feel like I was on another planet then), and it turned out I was out of the country this time around. If, like me, you hate inherited privilege and wealth but realise you’re in a minority, the answer is to simply switch off for the duration. So, had I been in the UK, I wouldn’t have watched any of the television coverage, and I’d have refused to attend local street party.
But it was hard to ignore it on Twitter, and here’s the thing.
When Twitter gets a bee in its bonnet about something, it becomes a pub bore. I’m quite happy for a person to express an opinion. But what happens on Twitter is that people obsessively repeat their opinions, as if we didn’t notice the first time; and then they retweet other opinions that are the same as theirs; and then go on expressing their opinion, ad nauseam.
The problem for me is that, while I agree with the expressed opinions (and might even be guilty of retweeting them), there’s nothing I can do with that. Clearly, this was not the moment of revolution. It was just people watching TV (why not switch off ferchristsake?) and complaining. Now, I feel like smashing things up most of the time, so I don’t need my frustration and rage to be constantly reinforced. What I’d like more of, please, is a kind of alternative media, where something else is happening other than the shit that most of the nation is up to their eyeballs in.
Seems to me, since Twitter is our media, that we should be capable of coming up with an alternative view of reality that doesn’t involve carping about the parasites who are infecting the rest of the media.
Tweetbot, my Twitter client of choice, has some great mute features (you can mute hashtags as well as people now), but it upsets me that I should have to resort to muting people I like and follow. I’d much rather we joined together in a concerted attempt to provide an alternative. As it was, my only option was to switch off Twitter, much as I’d have switched off the radio at home.
Oh, and if I see that fucking picture of the fucking surprised looking house one more time…