Government lies, and the role of Twitter…

Don’t believe government lies about welfare being unaffordable, which we all know is bullshit anyway (if we can afford a totally unwinnable war in Afghanistan, or give £7bn in loans to Ireland, and waste something like £15million on a doomed World Cup bid, we can sure as hell support our own disabled citizens), read this instead.

It also addresses the fallacy of a universal credit, IDS’s wet dream, which anyone with half a brain can see would never work – one size fits all rarely does.

But here’s a thing – had I not been on Twitter, I wouldn’t have known about that link.

I’m pretty sure I’ve said, here somewhere, that Twitter is a crock – if so I take it back. It can be a very useful source of information, as well as a good way to make new contacts – important if, like me, you’re mostly stuck at home.

For about a year, I’ve used Twitter just as another outlet for my blog thinking, as many others do who haven’t tried it, that it was as much a waste of time as Facebook.

I have had a Facebook account, but it failed to engage me and I eventually shut it down (or, at least, as shut down as a Facebook account can be). That was partly because I have no desire to be “friends” with about a zillion people I have never met or even heard of (with real friends there’s email and the telephone, I don’t need Facebook), and also because of the Facebook-wide obsession with mind-numbingly stupid games and quizzes, or the awarding of eggs, or hearts, and assorted cyber-crap – and all these things demand that you give them access to all your personal details. Nor do I have an overwhelming desire to divulge the minutiae of my life.

I think that for young people just out of school, or uni, Facebook can be a very good way of staying in touch with people with whom they might otherwise lose contact. Beyond that, I remain unimpressed.

Twitter, though, is a whole different ball game. For over a year I had no time for it, feeling that it was just as crappy as Facebook (indeed, the intention of Twitters founders was that you would upload the minutiae of your life – it just hasn’t worked out that way), just using my account as another outlet for my blog posts. The last couple of weeks, while I’ve been very involved with Twitter, have completely changed that view.

Firstly – though I’m still very much a novice – it’s clear that real friendships do form on Twitter, unlike the often artificial friendships of Facebook. What struck me, during the student demos, though, was its immediacy, with Tweets coming in from those actually involved in the demos, or in occupations, every few minutes, detailing – above all else –  the extreme level of police violence, long before it made the news media.

And for someone who like me, who is disabled and mostly housebound, it’s enabled me to reach out to people in a similar situation, in a way that other media can’t provide – Twitter users tending to stay online for long spells, rather than pop in and out as with FB.

Yes, there is dumbness on Twitter too, human nature being what it is, mainly with those people who obsess about the sheer number of followers, and pretty much beg people to follow them, whereas most, as I do, ruthlessly weed out the self-promoting spammers, the porn, and the crap – it’s not hard.

As you might know, Twitter limits you to 140 characters, including spaces, and it’s amazing how soon you adjust to that, even if you’re a verbose sod like me. If, however, you really can’t say what you need to in 140 characters, then there’s an app for that too, TwitLonger. You can ramble on at length and TwitLonger will post the first 140 characters on Twitter, including a continuation link, to click through to the full text. That, too, works on smartphones, if a tad slowly.

So if, like me, you’ve tended to view Twitter with a jaundiced eye, without actually knowing what you were talking about(!), why not give it a try? You can take a look at my page at http://twitter.com/rantsfromron and while might only see one side of the conversations, it’ll give you a feel for it.

There are apps available so that you need only occasionally visit your Twitter page – I use TweetDeck both for my PC and my Android smartphone. There are others, but I found this the easiest to get on with. And, of course, you need only get involved with those Tweets that spark your interest, the rest you can let go by.

Try it – you might just like it. I do.

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