Twitter Has Killed My Social Skills, But I Love It All The Same

What social skills I had, I've mislaid. But I'd rather that than be one of those unenlightened Twitterless freaks...
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What social skills I had, I've mislaid. But I'd rather that than be one of those unenlightened Twitterless freaks...

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I was on a train on Saturday – perfectly appropriate tweet-shaped set up to a promising story right there. I was on a train with my brother, who is not on Twitter. We live next door to each other – quaintly – but in terms of the worlds we live in we may as well have not met.

I’ve always found myself at odds with the people around me. Maybe it’s because I tend to make few friends so the chances of them sharing my interests are small. And my interests are, I suppose, not the most mainstream. And the world hates me. But I have four brothers and a sister – bloodily obliged to communicate with me periodically, AND I’ve mustered five whole friends. You would think some of these experimental participants would be on Twitter, and some of them would share my enthusiasm for some things. But no, no; they’ll have none of it.

I follow 230 people on Twitter, which I know isn’t the hugest amount, but I do properly follow them. I am a stalker of many. And what’s interesting about this slowly amassed group of strangers who I read about on a daily basis is their uncanny, creepy, sprawling similarity. Twitter is sometimes referred to as a hive mind, especially by celebrities with many faithfuls lurking beneath them, ready at the stroke of enter to source answers and post back opinions. It’s strange the connectivity of the place. Not just a little bit creepy.

I suppose by nature of a network once you follow someone and they recommend someone else and you follow them and so on, these successive links are going to produce friends of friends and avatars on the same general wavelengths. But it is very easy after being sucked into this collective consciousness – especially if you are an extreme hermit such as me – to suddenly open the front door and realise that that’s not entirely a representative sample of the population. Some people don’t actually like BBC4.

But the worse part of talking to one of the unenlightened unbetweetdecked travellers out there is the pure restrictiveness of coping with their interests

My timeline for instance; I follow Graham Linehan, Armando Iannucci, Tim Key, the Rubberbandits – not exactly obscure names. But when I mentioned on this notorious train of mine that Steve Coogan gave Armando Iannucci an award at the British Comedy Awards ‘the other night’, I got “Who?” And after I explained, I got indifference and incomprehension, because none of the references connected anywhere within his tube map brain. They* don’t know who he** is and they have no interest in him***. (*My acquaintances) (**Anyone I ever talk about) (***Anything I ever say). I didn’t say it wasn’t understandable.

They wouldn’t know Tim Key or the Rubberbandits if I didn’t have the charming habit of incessantly talking about my weekly obsessions at every opportunity, shouting out the windows as they leave for work... Them running away... Me shouting louder. Two in my sample of ten would know who Graham Linehan is. And yet NONE of them want to hear me drone on about fun trivia and tiny facts I’ve amassed on my internet throne on a Friday night at the cinema. Very suspect. Maybe I’ve somehow submerged myself into circles severely lacking taste for the past 20 years of my life. Maybe I am intolerable to people with excellent interests. Maybe I should get out more and ask questions less.

But I worry about these Twitterless freaks. What else are they missing out on? Not just the celebrities, but the TWITTER celebrities – Profanityswan, GarethAveyard, SharonGOONer. Those names mean nothing to them! Imagine! And then the telly. Oh the telly. You can’t have been on Twitter for the last million months (seemingly) without catching sight of the #xfactor stream of whingey bollocks going on, which might at first SEEM like a ‘pro-real-life’ statement, but these weekend rituals bring out the sadomasochism in us all. And who in this world can say that’s a bad thing? I know I relented in the end and was forced to watch half of the final before wrapping my own head in plastic and asphyxiating my brain till it convinced itself to have a nice impromptu nap on the floor. Twitter peer pressure is an incredible force. You have to either give in or implode with tedious rage, or both.

But the worse part of talking to one of the unenlightened unbetweetdecked travellers out there is the pure restrictiveness of coping with their interests. As I sat there on the train getting blank stares I just had the urge to pull up the search box and type in keywords. Produce a timeline for the hash tag #Awkward or #HelpMeIAmOnATrain. But when a real person comes up with nothing and you paw at their face to refresh, it remains at best blank, because they’ve no depths to plunge. What’s there is there. What they don’t know, they’re missing out on. What social skills I had, I’ve mislaid.

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