I have a friend, who shall remain nameless because if I’m honest I’m a bit scared of her, who is going through what can only be described as a Twitter obsession at the moment.
Relatively new to the Twitter experience she is delighted with the number of celebs she can follow and has been happily tweeting to her heart’s content to a variety of stars from the stage and screen and in turn has been watching their lives unfold in messages of 140 characters and under.
And there in lies in the beauty of Twitter. It allows us mere commoners the chance to gleek into the lives of the rich and famous and get the gossip we so crave straight from the horse’s mouth. It also allows us the chance to converse with our heroes and heroines - all with the help of a little @ tag at the start of their name.
In other words, Twitter is a nosey person’s dream and I can kind of understand why my friend is currently obsessed.
I’ve been using Twitter on and off for a few years. I tend to have a love/hate affair with it. It’s great craic altogether when reality TV programmes such as The Apprentice or The X-Factor are on.
There are a lot of very funny and entertaining people out there and it can be a bit like having a bit of banter down in the pub with a massive group of friends - only you get to do it from your own home, on your own sofa, with your own (infinitely cheaper) glass of wine.
It is also one of the best places you can go when a major news story breaks - you’re guaranteed to hear every fact or rumour about a story within approximately 2.3 seconds of it getting out there.
I have also found Twitter to be an exceptionally effective way to network with fellow authors. I admit that I’m geeky enough to get very excited when a fellow (proper) author tweets me or replies to a message. It gives me a little ego boost - a little feeling that I’m “one of them”.
Twitter can feed my ego and I’m not afraid to admit it. I’d like to say I was big enough not to get excited about such things, but I’m not. A positive tweet of encouragement can put me in good form for the rest of the day.
But Twitter can also break your heart and turn you into a bit of a stalker. And by ‘turning you into a stalker’, I do of course mean it can give you the appearance of being slightly deranged.
Think of how things worked pre-Twitter. You had means to contact someone you admired, you wrote, or emailed or texted and perhaps they answered. If they didn’t answer, you either let it go or you wrote, or emailed or texted again. And perhaps a third time (just for luck). You would perhaps them get the message and would walk away tail between your legs feeling a little dejected but, hopefully, retaining your dignity.
Twitter puts all that “please reply to me” out there for the world to see. And it shows the whole world when you get blown off my your celeb du jouer.
So there are many rules for playing the Twitter game properly - the most notable being never Tweet in anger or when under the influence of any more than two glasses of wine.
Bear in mind that when you put something out there on Twitter other people can see it. And can sense your desperation. And can retweet to anyone they see fit.
Remember that just because you have the time/ inclination/ manners to reply to anyone who Tweets you, your celebrity stalking victim may not be the same way inclined.
This is not a personal dig at you. This is just them having a life, or being busy, or having so many people twittering in their ears it would be impossible to respond to them all.
Play nice. Try to remember not to slag people off who are likely to do a quick Google search and find out what you’ve been saying about them unless you really want them to know you have been saying it. I learned that the hard way after mentioned a certain z-list celeb’s name in a Tweet not realising they would see it... and respond.
Step away from the computer every now and again.
You do actually have a real life, not just a virtual life. The people you speak to may be funny and witty, but some of the people around you in the real world are quite nice too - honest.
Twitter is essentially about people promoting themselves. Any gushing interest shown to you should be taken with a pinch of salt.
Twitter may be the new way of making a first impression with someone you’ve never met before but the basic rules of not making a show of yourself remain.
Remember not everyone has the same sense of humour as you do and that it is possible (and likely) you will have multiple Twitter tumbleweed moments as you find your feet.
And just like in real life, if someone doesn’t seem to want to know you on Twitter, they are probably not worth the knowing anyway.