For those who have caught my moaning tweets on Twitter, I haven’t been feeling my best recently. My immune system seems to be really low at the moment and I seem to be getting any bugs floating around. It is probably my body telling me I needed to fully rest and recover and that’s what I have been doing. Fingers crossed I can already feel a difference and hopefully I will be back to fitness in the next day or so.
This post isn’t about my illness though (despite the first paragraph being about my illness!). It’s about Twitter and my feelings about Twitter.
I volunteer for a charity counselling young children. It’s no surprise that Twitter and Facebook along with some other social media sites can be the medium for bullying. In my day (I sound so old when I say that), whilst bullying did go on, the reality was that bullying happened between 9-3:30pm at school and then you had a reprieve (not that I’m saying any bullying is right!). Nowadays there is no reprieve. Young people are subjected to bullying 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Young people can use the internet as a threatening weapon by posting photos that should be kept private. Once a tweet or post is out there it can be retweeted and shared to thousands of people within a few minutes. Little wonder perhaps that a recent report by the NSPCC (http://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/research-and-resources/on-the-edge-childline-spotlight/) showed that there has been a 116% increase in counselling sessions about suicide over the last 3 years. I appreciate not all of those feelings can be linked to online bullying, it can be linked to a whole raft of other things as well. It’s scary reading and it is happening.
Yet despite this I can see the value in Twitter. There has already been a raft of conversation and blog posts about the Samaritans Radar app and I have written about it myself. Although I think the app was poorly executed, I can understand the reasoning behind the app. There are people on the internet who reach out for help and their tweets can get missed. I think the Samaritans do an amazing job and it’s great to hear they have responded to the criticism, pulled the app and are looking at alternative ways. The problem may not be the app, it’s about the fact the app may have opened up access to vulnerable people by those who would not want to help.
I can personally see the value of Twitter. I have some lovely ‘real life’ friends. One in particular is on Twitter as well and it is thanks to her that I became so involved with what I feel is the true meaning behind Twitter. Twitter is the only place which I feel is ‘open all hours’. My sleep pattern has been all over the place recently and however lovely my friends are, there are only a couple of friends I feel able to ring no matter what the time. Instead I can go on Twitter and there is a whole world of people out there ready to talk.
Twitter has introduced me to music I would never have listened to, people who I may never have come into contact with, viewpoints that have challenged my own perceptions and news that I would never have access to. It’s kept me in the loop with what is happening in my husband’s country of Libya and what is happening in Palestine. It’s made me laugh and cry, sometimes both at the same time. I have had some of the weirdest wonderful conversations in the world stemming from a conversation about a John Lewis advert (love Monty and Mabel) to talking about guinea pigs to talking about silliness. The acceptance from people is overwhelming sometimes.
It’s made me sad when I heard about a Twitter friend having an accident whilst out climbing. I have never even met the guy but the Twitter world seems a little emptier without his comments. It’s made me happy and proud of humanity when a couple of people have got together to raise money for the mountain rescue team who saved him (for more info from someone who can explain better than I can please go to the Justgiving page http://t.co/MUiumuqrbp and this website http://t.co/0rdmCfeXsR). I hope he gets well soon.
I’ve spoken to comedians after seeing their shows and more recently received an offer for a prize for a charity auction I am organising as part of a Prince’s Trust Million Makers (if you want to help as well please let me know!). I’ve witnessed inspirational trending moments particularly the #thankyouteacher hashtag.
Some people may accuse me of relying on people who I don’t ‘really know’. I don’t rely on them. I’m grateful for them being there at all hours when I need them to be silly and make me smile. I hope I do the same for my Twitter friends, I really do.
Thank you Twitter friends, you’ve opened my eyes to a whole world I never knew existed and, even though it can be manipulated and used in the wrong way, it can also be used in the right way.