The stream above shows me responding, as I try to do, to special appeals to good causes here and there. It is a very distressing thing to know that even as I am typing this, someone, somewhere is tweeting me about a fun run, a sponsored pancake race, a terminally ill person’s blog, a YouTube musical demo, a new opportunity for digital start-ups or some either highly worthy charitable endeavour. So, while I hung around Dubai (noticing trivial things like ring pulls on soda water cans) I chose a few calls that seemed close to home, to resonate with me in some special way or – in the case of Simon Amstell – responded to a direct request from a friend who had texted me hoping for a tweet. And now owes me big time, Simon, got it? No, no. Any time….
NOOOOO!!! Not any time. That’s the problem. Oh Stephen, you see this is the point. You say things like “any time” and people take you at your word. Not Simon, who’s very hesitant and decent. But you would not believe the number of books people expect me to read and then tweet enthusiastically about. I now refuse to plug any book unless I have picked it up of my own volition and am enjoying it. If someone asks me to tweet about it as a favour I always refuse, even if I then go on to love the book. It just isn’t fair on the hundreds of others whose works I won’t get time to read.
It is obvious to anyone that were my twitter stream to become nothing but a bulletin board of worthy causes it would soon lose all interest, spontaneity and appeal. Enough people as it is, if I RT or tweet about three or four good causes in a row, accuse me of becoming a bore. Enough people tweet at me sniffily if I ignore/don’t notice or pass on their request or demand to have an event or charity passed on to my flock. I’m not complaining, such is the consequence of having a large following.
Should that matter?
Maybe it is my duty to retweet everyone who asks for an RT.
Well, experience has taught me that this won’t do. This won’t do at all.
All in a good cause…
Firstly, intergrity has to be checked. There are vile creeps out there pretending to be terminally ill and in need of just a fiver here and a fiver there to be able to fly to America to have that necessary life-saving operation. It isn’t nice to be reminded that there exist fellow-citizens who would stoop so low, but I fear we all know that it is the case. So it follows that I can’t automatically retweet every cry for help. Each has to be checked for authenticity and honesty.
In addition to this, it must be understood that my twitter space is not for sale. If people send me things (gadgets, music tracks, poems, cupcakes, robotic vacuum cleaners) I have to make it clear that I cannot accept them on condition that I tweet about them. It has to be agreed that I MUST BE FREE to see or buy or experience something that I really love and then rave about it without everyone thinking I am doing so because in some way I have been bribed or arm-twisted or in any other fashion coerced into doing so. There are those who will never believe such a thing, but that’s their problem frankly. To be live life as a cynic is to condemn yourself to eternal misery and distrust, especially of yourself: the clearest route to failure there is. Yes, I do TV ads and voice overs, but (even if no one else does) I see a clear difference between that, which is a form of (albeit whorish) acting and personal product endorsement. The one is a gig, the other is me.
Secondly, if I do recommend a site, well those who want that site to be visited had better be damned sure that their servers can take the strain. We are talking about thousands of hits a second at peak times. The host had better have a good cluster of servers ready or there’ll be nothing but tears and distress as what appears to have been a Dedicated Denial of Service has been perpetrated on their proud and noble site.