Friday, 5 August 2011

talking to ourselves

Hugo Rifkind in today's Times (£) wonders if Twitter is more than #talkingtoourselves.  I have been on Twitter only for a few months, but when it started I sent emails (quaint, I know) to a bunch of people I wanted to keep in touch with and chat to and asked them to go on it and follow me.  They all either didn't reply or said they didn't think it would catch on/they didn't have time, etc.  One of them was at the time a top-flight national print journalist.  Anyway, I went on a few months ago when I got wind that people were tweeting about my blog.  Rifkind's point (I find him frivolous most of the time, but he is sound on this) is that the print and broadcast media are currently getting some of their knickers in a twist about who owns a journalist's Twitter account, and that they just don't get it.  Nobody owns it, that is the point.  If a journalist moves from one employer to another they will continue to tweet, follow and be followed, and they do it as an individual. Social media give a voice to the voiceless.  That is why I like them.  That is also why older power structures loathe them.  Rifkind notes this as a positive, and notes as a negative that if people who follow you on Twitter don't like what you say they are gone in an instant, while they will continue to read a newspaper column even if it annoys them.  I don't buy that.  I don't spend much of my day on Twitter, and on days when it is particularly tedious none at all, but I especially like following people I don't agree with or find annoying (like the ridiculous and fraudulent Laurie Penny) because it's fun.  And the number of people who comment on my blog who don't agree with me is quite high - they usually start with "Your problem, Jane (they always use my first name in this context, don't know why) is...".  And don't we choose the newspaper we buy (or these days increasingly don't buy) because its editorial line chimes with what we think, at least approximately? So it is not that simple,  We use different media in different ways.  Recently I posted a short piece of fiction, which I hoped would kick off what I thought would be an entertaining memoir.  Which it has, and "Emma B." has been guest posting on my blog regularly since then.  But within moments of posting the first piece I ws tweeted that fiction like that was pointless in the tweeter's view.  So my response was, naturally enough, "don't read it then".  Dialogue like this matters, and creates a more dynamic environment for writers than previously.


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