An Agonizing Explanation & Thank You: 1000 Followers by the skin of my teeth.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Six Characters in Search of an Author is a 1921 Italian play by Luigi Pirandello that was met with shouts of ‘Manicomio’ (‘Madhouse’ in English) at its Premiere.

It is an absurdist play – basically about the relationship between the characters in a play, their author and the theatre.

It came to mind this morning as I was thinking about the Social Media site Twitter and its restriction of 140 characters per message. 140 characters in which you can potentially delight, disappoint, encourage, destroy, stimulate, inspire or terrify your fellow human beings. Yes – there is no ending to the impact that just 140 characters can have on another person’s day or wellbeing … or even sanity.

It is not for the faint-hearted. There are few rules. Grammar and punctuation are all but abandoned and interpretation is a free for all. There are no barriers to swearing, blaspheming, threatening or abuse - and hatred is allowed to pour forth in all its many disguises. It allows visual and text links to all manner of material from anywhere on the planet that is able to support its technology and puts people in touch with like-minded colleagues around the globe. It encourages, intimidates, supports and harasses and it’s here to stay in some form or other for better or worse.

And I LOVE it!

You see…Social Media is not really the playground of the elderly…not yet, anyhow. I think at 72, I’m probably at least twenty years older than some of my dear digital friends and more like forty years older than most. But I’ve been embraced into Twitter’s heartland in a way I would not have thought possible or even plausible.

It has led to my developing NancyRants  - this Blog where I can rant, reminisce or communicate with little children to my heart’s delight.

It has introduced me to interesting people all around the world and through reading first-hand experiences opened my eyes to so much more global activity than I’d ever known before.  In fact – a large part of Twitter has been absorbed into my digital bloodstream – giving me an even greater zest for life.

So it was with a great deal of sadness and regret that only a few days ago, I spent a restless and sleepless night agonising over whether or not to withdraw from Twitter. Earlier that day, Monday 21 May I had been watching the speech from Craig Thomson MP on television. But as is my usual wont, I also had Twitter open on the iPhone beside me and I started to see an outpouring of what seemed to me heartless cruelty; a mob-mentality taunting and bullying a human being.  As his title tells us Craig Thomson MP is a member of parliament.  He has been accused of much, charged with nothing and continues to be tried and convicted by all and sundry in what is to me, a reprehensible display of lack of basic human rights.

And in my state of sleepless struggling I formed the opinion that the phrase -  ‘Innocent until proven Guilty’ of which we are so proud in this democratic country – had become an empty slogan not even worth the sneer wrapped around it.

But worst of all…I faced my worst demon of all. Bullying. I was mercilessly bullied as a child over my deafness – an experience that I handled at the time in my own way (See my last post: Open letter to little children: My 5 Secrets). But until this crisis took hold I had not realised how deeply I’d buried it in my psyche.)

All but taking the decision to abandon Twitter - the fabulous Social Media platform that had so caught my attention and put all the above invective in my face – I ventured the possibility of leaving Twitter in a Tweet early on Tuesday morning.

By Tuesday afternoon – and here is one of the indications of the snowball effect of the Twittersphere and its potential power to move mountains and bring down governments – I had an extraordinary and totally unexpected barrage of responses. Evidence of the beautiful, honest, truthful, encouraging, supportive and loving side of humanity rose to the occasion and convinced me not to ‘cut and run’ but to stand firm and continue to speak out against things I do not believe in, or for those things I hold dear.

And now – just a few days later and about nine months all up (appropriate gestation period) I have reached a personal milestone of 1000 Followers.
 Yes – I know…that’s absolutely nothing in its proper global perspective of Twitter-Followers but nevertheless a fabulously exciting phenomenon for me.

So here is my ‘thank you’ to all of you, who – by your courage of your convictions, your strength and your determination - have inspired me to stay and fight; to put forward thoughts that may be sneered at or derided; to be true to myself at the risk of personal attack and to face the revolting challenge of unmitigated cruelty (look at our Refugees) inflicted on members of our human race by one or more of our own.

Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you all.


  1. This is a wonderful, brave post - and I'm so glad you decided to stay! Twitter needs more people like you.

  2. You must know Marian that you are one of my inspirations. You talk of courage and you have it in spades. I cannot express my appreciation sufficiently.

  3. I obviously missed that Tweet of your intention to leave! I work, you see. Nancy, I know how you feel - this quilty until proven innocent attitude we as a country seem to have developed of late is distressing. The bitchy Tweets about Delta Goodrem were based on nothing - in Thomson's case there is at least suspicion, I suppose. Not that THAT makes it any better.

    Twitter does need more people like you. Unfollow the creepy ones, fire back at the ones you feel deserve it and bugger the rest! :)

    Social media may be here to stay or it may be merely a phase - we do not know. Facebook seems to have got itself into a spot of bother and I have no idea how Twitter makes any money. Wordpress is still a "startup" technically running on venture capital. Who knows what will happen.

    Do not let it stress you. Enjoy the dialogue and the people you enjoy - karma will deal with the rest. I hope! :)

    1. What a wonderful response...and such sensible advice teamoyeniyi. Thank you for taking the time to write to me - you are obviously extremely technologically minded as well as being a very sensitive soul. Your words are so appreciated.

  4. Twitter is a strange beast at times and the trial by keyboard it invokes in some people is pretty scary. I am actually onto my second twitter account. Started the fist one way back in Jan 2009 but it all got a bit too much so I took a break and came back fresh. Amongst many other things, there was a media storm over something which I commented on and published one of my tweets about it. Someone then went to the trouble of setting up a Twitter account just to have a go at me and as far as I know they never tweeted again. I’ve learnt to use the unfollow button and the mute button a lot and try really hard not to buy into all the negative chatter and happenings. I mute everything to do with TV shows and if any current topic is bringing out the hater-aid in folks well I just block and or mute. I’ve also learnt to walk way some days and just read a book. I also shut my Facebook account which has made a world of difference on the positive side.

    The up side is that it really has become my must have resource. By being discerning and learning to actually read through peoples time lines before following them checking their blogs etc and looking at who other people are following I have come across some great minds. I would have to say I am more politically aware and up to date than I have ever been in my life and I now have an interest in politics too. I know so much more about what is happening not only in my community but on a much larger scale than I ever I did and I am getting more involved (out from behind the keyboard). Only this week at work we were discussing a government issue that might affect us and I rattled off what I thought was going on. By boss is like “where are you hearing this?” I explained about what I read on Twitter and the boss promptly went and made a couple of phone calls only to get confirmation of everything I had said.

    And finally if you are discerning and positive and don’t get caught up in the charge with all the other keyboard warriors out there you come across some truly wonderful people (I would be referring to you Nancy in that sentence). People who if I am ever in their part of the world I am going to make time to have coffee with if they want because these people make me laugh and they make me think and my world is a better, richer place for having them in it. Through Twitter and blogs I have met some amazing people in real life, some of them have gone on to become my dearest and closet friends. People, who if I had just met out there in the street I may not have taken the time nor had the time to get to know because surface differences/appearances might have held me back.

    That you are 72 years young and putting your hand and heart into this whole social media thing - well I think it rocks!

    1. And you KNOW I think you rock young lady. That is a very powerful statement you've just made and an insightful one too. I'm very grateful you took the time to share it and if you EVER come within cooee of my neck of the woods, the coffee is a given. Thank you!

  5. I now understand why you felt the way about twitter. Like you, I sometimes felt some twits radiated hate and negative vibes - things we dont need in our simple lifes. Then I discovered, through lovely friends I met on twitter, the strength of character to look beyond the childish, immature and cowardly bullying (what an oxymoron).

    I thank you too Nancy, for sharing with us your colourful life, which by a stroke of an iPad, my wife chanced on your blog and thus became your 1000th follower!

    So you see, if it wasn't for Twitter, our world would have been less a friend. I know mine would!

    Looking forward to your next posting, Nancy. Enjoy your weekend!

  6. And I'm delighted that you have both become dear friends Kerry. I do value your support and understanding and agree with you wholeheartedly about the wonderful side of friendship on Twitter. Next post will be a Happy Story I'm sure.

  7. At home ill today I was casually browsing Twitter. Your name was familiar, Nancy, so I explored further and found this blog. I am a little younger than you but remember you from the 60's. My younger sisters used to watch you on TV - black and white then.

    In the early 2000's I belonged to a couple of Internet forum communities and got a sense of the benefits and pitfalls of cyberspace.

    Twitter is a great resource. Since joining I've discovered so many interesting things to read and to explore. It's like standing on a hill and watching clouds drift by. You can grab any one you want. You learn to be discerning, though.

    For various reasons I became relatively isolated and the Internet has been a life line in that way. That is one of its strengths. It can open doors to new experiences and friendships in a way that nothing in the past can really match. It can take the edge of isolation at times when people do need to stand aside and recoup/reflect on where they are at present.

    I deactivated my Twitter account within a few weeks of opening it but its vibrancy and resourcefulness lured me back.

    Bt Twitter ca be a little dangerous in that it is easy to make comments or divulge information into a space that may or may not be friendly. :)

    Nice to meet you :)

  8. Thank you for a wonderfully thoughtful post Quiet, one that I instantly related to. The Internet has opened up so much for humanity and of course, there will always be drawbacks to something of such magnitude. I just love having the opportunity to reach out in my later years and the joy of catching up with 'my youngsters' like your sisters or meeting new friends such as yourself is immeasurable. Thank you for taking the time to share a part of your story. Love. N.