Sometimes those warts show horribly. I can be in a bad mood – I have surely bored the nation enough on the subject of my mood disorder – and I become absurdly oversensitive and vulnerable to slight, insult and offence in low moods. When cheerful I can take the whoppingest and meanest abuse in my happily loping stride. But when I’m down it’s like a kind of photosensitivity, the hurt is horrible.
These are the moments when I get myself into trouble by instantly firing back at any negative tweet I happen to see aimed in my direction. I miss 99% of them (do the maths, the chances of my seeing any given tweet are very, very small) but some do get through. Naturally it makes me look like the worst kind of pillock when I respond angrily. “All he wants is adoration and praise, he can’t take criticism” is the perfect reasonable conclusion that might be arrived at. They do not know how many times I have seen incredibly rude insults and not bothered to reply, or have done so in joshing merry fashion.
I learn, but have learned slowly. I was like a puppy running endlessly into a mirror in the early days, now I’m more like a suspiciously growling hound. A pity, perhaps, but inevitable.
I’m an optimist and tend to believe the best in people, but there are unquestionably some grotesque and vile figures out there. If ever you have the misfortune to meet one, Jonathan, never ever be afraid to use Twitter’s block option. You won’t see their tweets and they won’t see yours. There’s nothing they can do about it and you will be happier as a result, infinitely happier. It’s what I do to newspapers and to those who want to upset or provoke me. No matter who you are no one has a right to see your tweets, a right to be followed or a right to address you if you don’t want to be addressed.
These days if you’re a celebrity you will often find yourself followed in the street by amateur paparazzi. Any kid with a decent camera can be such a creature. They hope you’ll go into a porn theatre of course, or be seen with someone inappropriate or doing something dodgy. Failing that they really, really hope that you’ll become pissed off at their wasp-like presence, the boredom, the impertinence and the unkindness of being stalked and that as a result you’ll turn and remonstrate. *SNAP* – that’s the picture they want, you looking cross, sticking up a finger, your face contorted with rage. Even better if you hurl their camera to the pavement. A lawsuit! Well, as in life so online. There are twitter stalkers like that. One soon learns to spot and to block them. One obvious clue is that they only seem to follow, and publicly to tweet, “celebrities”.
And yet it’s mostly wonderful here, Jonathan. The majority, the great majority of people are friendly, forgiving and kind. It is a miracle that so much can be read into little messages of 140 characters that offer no personal clues by way of handwriting, styling or formatting. After a while you will be astonished by how perceptively your moods and meanings are interpreted and with what bewildering accuracy. You will be astonished too by the wit. The speediness, elegance and brilliance of some twitterers regularly takes my breath away.
Of course there are dimwits who will ask a question rather than Google or look back up the timeline. Well, maybe they aren’t dimwits but opportunists. A certain kind of person will always end their tweet with a question in the hope of getting a reply.
I like replying, I like being involved in twitter. If I’m raw from a recent mauling I’ll stay away and feel shy and nervous of looking at any single tweet or DM, either because they’ll be upsettingly sympathetic and concerned or because they’ll be mean. But mostly Twitter and my two million followers are as good a reason as I know to trust people. To respect people. To believe in people.
Welcome, Jonathan, and enjoy.