Twit to who?

I joined Twitter on the 24th January 2009. I think I saw Stephen Fry talk about it on Jonathan Ross’s show, and of course (like a lot of people) they became the first people I followed.

At the time I assumed it was just a way to get some news, gossip and snippets of daily life from people off the telly I liked. It was. But it can be so much more.

A lot of people seem to try it, send a message or two to their zero followers and get disillusioned when Lily Allen doesn’t write back to them. They deem it a load of old tosh and proclaim that they don’t want to know what celebs have had for dinner. (I’m not that interested either, but still glad that the occasional lunch pic slips through into my feed! – Thanks Tommy Campbell!)

I remember when I got my first “celeb” reply from Alan Davies, when after jokingly criticising his new ‘tache, he responded with a equally insulting tweet about my stupid hair tuft that I had as my picture then. It was a genuinely exciting moment! Now, the other thing is, you never know who is real and who is not on Twitter, so a good tip is to look through Jonathan Ross’s follow list and assume that the famous people he follows are genuine. After that , I found Jason Manford and Richard Herring and through them, many many other people, not all famous.

This then led me to the discovery of the London comedy scene, and I haven’t looked back.

Now during this blog I’m not sure how to describe people who aren’t exactly household names, but they are people I follow, mainly stand up comedians, because of the entertainment that they provide both on and off Twitter. I won’t call them “celebs” cos the word has too many negative connotations, and a lot of people I follow are comedy writers, science journalists, working comedians playing to smallish audiences most nights of the week, and they’re not really celebrities (and would hate to think of themselves like that!)

OK, actually, I might just call them “celebs”. Basically they are people in the entertainment business whether famous or not. Don’t worry, I’ll come back to “celebs” in a moment.

Twitter has been amazingly useful for me. One moment came when I had forgotten that US hardcore / alternative rock legend, Bob Mould was playing at the Islington O2 (a 5 minute walk from my house) and of course, it had sold out. I tweeted about my stupidity, and some kind soul who must have done a search for his name tweeted back within 10 minutes saying that he had a spare ticket and would leave it on the door for me. I couldn’t believe my luck. I legged it to the O2 and the woman on the door had my ticket ! It was pretty cool. I tweeted the guy after at the venue and bought him a pint. You couldn’t do that on Facebook or Google. I also found myself standing next to 12th best stand up ever Stewart Lee in the audience. OK it’s nothing to do with Twitter, but I was excited and had to tell someone!

I have met quite a few nice and funny people who I see at various comedy shows and who listen to the same podcasts that I do. People I would have never met if it wasn’t for Twitter, and people who can happily amuse me on a long bus ride home from work or on a lazy Saturday morning still in bed. Now I don’t need to badger my boring old day to day friends to come to comedy shows that they have no interest in. Actually, I might ditch these so-called “real friends” soon…

Twitter is also great for breaking news. When Michael Jackson died there was no information on the news channels or web pages, you couldn’t get the information from Google. but Twitter was on hand with up to date reports. Obviously you have to filter out the rumours, but with a lot of tweets linking to sites the news travelled to me much faster than my workmates (I was on a nightshift) who were flicking from BBC to Sky News.

Now, the following points were originally going to be the main reason for this blog: I have discovered a few rules, especially for interacting with “celebs”:

1. Don’t ask people to follow you. It’s pretty naff, and what use would it be if Ashton Kucher was informed what you were up to. If people, famous or not, want to follow you then make the things you say interesting, funny, whatever, but don’t beg them ! This also goes for saying to people “can you follow me for a bit because I want to DM you” (then you secretly hope they’ll forget to unfollow you and youll become best friends forever!) (See waitingforbieber.com as an extreme -and funny- example of this). Have some dignity people!

2. If you decide to unfollow a “celeb”, you don’t need to tell them about it. I don’t think any of them will really mind. And I don;t think they’ll change anything in order to get you back!

3. If you are going to say something negative about a “celeb”, don’t include their twitter name. for example, I MAY want to say (I don’t, but I may…) “That Michael Legge gig was shit” (sorry to Michael for using you as an example but I’m sure you won’t mind), well just say that. Don’t say “That @michaellegge gig was shit”. It’s just unnecessarily rude to inform the person concerned.

4. This rule is for the “celebs” who receive messages that break rules 2 & 3 above: DON’T RESPOND – it just gives them the attention they crave and they’ll be showing your tweet to their mates for weeks afterwards basking in your fame.

5. If you do send a message to a “celeb”, don’t expect a response. The more followers someone has, the more messages they’ll get, and the less chance you will have of your message being read, never mind responded to. if you don’t get a response, then just leave it, don’t resend the tweet “in case it didn’t get through”. That will just be annoying.

Final tip – don’t follow too many people. Just because someone follows you doesn’t mean you have to follow them. Currently I follow 142 people, and I think that is close to my limit. The more people you follow, the harder it is to keep up.

Anyway, this is the end of my typing. my fingers are getting sore and I need to check to see if Russell Brand has sent me any tweets.

PS – I thought of the title of this blog before I wrote the words and couldn’t fit in an owl pun. Please let me know if you can think of any.

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