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.