So I signed up and am now following Stephen Fry, John Cleese, Alan Davies, Richard Hammond, James May and Jeremy Clarkson. I mean, how hard can that be? Not hard at all, as it turns out. I haven’t tweeted anything myself yet. At the moment I’m lurking in the background, tittering at the comments made by some of my favourite men. Perhaps, for people like me, Twitter should drop the W and call it Titter.
I know now that a London cabbie made John Cleese’s day by thinking he was George Clooney; I know that Alan Davies supports Arsenal, to the derision of his friends; and I know that Stephen Fry spent his birthday watching cricket at the Oval. I also know that Richard Hammond mocked his family’s use of wheelie suitcases, until he had walked the length of the train and was in danger of losing an arm from the weight of his own carried luggage, but what does it all mean in the greater scheme of things?
It probably means that I am more interested in hearing amusing trivia than in wondering about war and peace in the world. It also makes me feel a bit like a stalker. Isn’t that what stalkers do – follow someone’s every move, waiting for the crumbs of wisdom to drop from the lips of the much-admired? I hope that, in this case, because their words have been consciously written and sent “out there” it doesn’t matter that unknown fans are picking them up and enjoying them.
Of course it’s not just about the trivia. Stephen Fry encourages the support of causes and charities that he holds dear, and Alan Davies has been promoting the performances of other comedians at the recent Edinburgh festival, but Twitter is a strange concept, whichever way you look at it.
Two years ago I remember reading on various places on the internet that Twitter was the best platform for an unknown author to promote his or her work, and then a few months later I read that there was nothing so hated on Twitter as writers who used it primarily to spam others about their books. Of course, I am following some of my favourite writers on Twitter as well, and hope to be amongst the first to hear when Anne Fortier’s new book is available on Kindle. I follow her and other writers because I already know their work and am a fan, but I’m not about to spam everyone to let them know when my next book becomes available on Kindle. There is a world of difference between the internationally recognised and followed author and the struggling unknown Indie one.
I suppose that, in time, I will come to use Twitter for such things, but that day seems to be quite far away still. In the meantime, I’m just going to log on and see what Stephen Fry is up to...