Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 25 Jun 2014, and is filled under Uncategorized.

Tweeting

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There are two things that Twitter lets you do really well. Firstly, there’s that flush of righteous indignation when you fire off a 140 character broadside against bad customer service or inept public relations. And secondly, there’s the thrill of finding that someone out there will now be following you and you think, hanging on your every word. There’s just one problem. The people who are following you are not your real friends.

If this sounds like it takes a punitive attitude to Twitter, then that’s not meant to be the case. It’s a tool. And it’s a tool that lets you share your experiences with other people just as they choose to share them with you. Wrapped up in that is the danger that you’ll think that when someone says you look good or that something you said was interesting, you’ll feel a very illusory bond.

To an ordinary person, this is no big deal. Social media has hazards that, in the overall scheme of things can generally be solved by closing the page or the laptop and doing something else. But when you’re depressed, or so I’ve found, the top layers of your skin have been taken away. That means praise seems more important than it should do and criticism really hurts.

I’ve met two people that I used to talk with when I was using Twitter with the kind of compulsion that only mental illness can bring. They’re fine people and I’d absolutely see them again, but I’m also clear that while having a coffee or a burger might be the start of a great friendship, really great friendships are about more than just words on a screen.

So social media is hugely fun, but it’s also cheap. You can retweet something by moving your fingers a few centimetres, or reply to it by quickly typing out your message. But this isn’t action.

Action was what I played a small part in on Sunday, serving lunch to people who were homeless or vulnerably housed. It was wiping tables, laying out cutlery, draining vegetables, serving the food and then packing it all down again when the day was over. It was repetitive, sometimes dull and very, very chastening. And at the end, one of the people there came up to me and said that what he’d received there was love.

His words had massive impact, because it’s exactly the stuff which isn’t glamorous that counts the most. It’s the donkey work, done far away from anyone who matters, as society understands the term, and with no chance of reward that is the most necessary. What I was about one tenth of on Sunday wasn’t liked, poked or retweeted, but it has greater weight than just about anything I’ve ever done.

 

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