Tag Archives: Twitter

Why our phones stop us making real friends

The chances are that you’re reading this right now on your phone.  But if not, then when was the last time you checked your phone for messages? An hour ago? Five minutes?  Or has it been in your hand practically all day?

I know!  Me too.  It’s a shocker.  When did we all become so addicted?  So much so, that The Sunday Times mag in its list of things going up and down (my essential reading) names a Facation as a holiday when your spouse forgets to leave their Blackberry at home.  In other words, no kind of a holiday at all.

When did checking your phone all the time suddenly become socially acceptable? When did it become necessary to share everything about your life with everyone? When did it become OK to text and talk at the same time?  Because that’s rapidly morphed into the even ruder habit of tweeting a conversation whilst it’s still going on. So rude!

It seems to me that, increasingly, we are all connecting far more with cyberspace rather than the real world going on around us.  But Facebook Friends and your Twitter Followers don’t count as real life human encounters.

Last night, we went to a comedy gig in the Komedia in Brighton.  It was a showcase for comedians who had done a stand-up course.  For each of them, it was their first time on stage.  As the brilliant compere said, it was not only a baptism of fire, but so ridiculous that their first gig was in the packed Komedia – one of the best comedy clubs in the country – when the next time they go on, they’ll be in a skanky pub in East London where three people show up.  But it was a great evening.

There were two intervals, so plenty of time for the audience to mingle, chat, discuss who goofed and who was great.  In the old days, your partner would go to the bar to get you a lager and you’d sit a bit bored and strike up a conversation with the people next to you.  It was called social interaction and meeting new people.  It was the prelude to how you make real friends in the real world.

But that’s a thing of the past, it seems.  Because as I looked around, EVERYONE was on their bloody phones.  So I joined in and tweeted that I was at the comedy gig.  And then I felt like a twit.

But it got me thinking, because earlier this week, I went to the park with the kids after school and all the Mums were on their phones, paying not a jot of attention to their offspring – which doesn’t bother me particularly – but they weren’t talking to each other either.  Their body language said, ‘I’m far too important and busy texting and emailing other important people on my phone, so don’t approach.’  Fine on a train, but a bit sad in a park.

I’m no better.  Checking my phone is a terrible habit.  One that infuriates my husband, especially since he knows as well as I do that it’s highly unlikely that anyone very important is contacting me for an immediate decision on anything, any time soon.  So why am I ignoring the people I love to read emails from a printing company tempting me to bulk order office calendars, or check updates from Twitter saying that another procrastinating writer is following me back?

What worries me most in all of this is that kids, seeing their parents glued to their iPhones, want a piece of the action too.  We went to a barbecue the other day, where three ten-year-olds were slouching on chairs glued to their father’s iPhones, while the football nets, skittles and garden Jenga that had been set up for them remained untouched.  When questioned, they literally grunted like cavemen.

And now my eldest daughter wants an iTouch for her birthday, but I can’t help feeling that if I get her one, I’ll loose my sunny, chatty girl to an all-consuming little black screen.

In the meantime, I’m trying to wean myself off my own sordid Blackberry addiction.  Especially when I’m working.  I reached out for it just now, but instead went into the garden to smell a rose.  I urge you to do the same.

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The Reluctant Twitter-Mentalist

Does anyone else find Twittering a little bit intimidating?  For those of us who always think about the funny thing we should’ve said, after the event, Twitter just rubs it in.  Worse, out of the blue, my husband’s suddenly an expert and he’s now more up-to-date with stuff going on.  He knew the Oscars winners even before we switched on ‘Breakfast’.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the whole concept of Twitter.  When my book Platinum came out in paperback, I decided to Tweet in character, setting up false Twitter pages for my characters, Frankie, Emma and Peaches. The intention was to build up a fan following, by wittily tweeting in real time up until the point where the fictional action of the story took over.  It was a good idea in theory, but almost impossible to carry out in practice.

But even though I haven’t tweeted for yonks, I have hundreds of followers on Twitter some of whom have pretty dodgy profile pictures.  For example, Peaches Gold who is a fictional LA Madam, gets followed by people like ArseWorshiper, DaddyStrokes and LadyClimax.  Yikes!  Needless to say, I haven’t ‘come out’ to any of them.  I’m a bit nervous of revealing myself to these people as a track-suit clad mum of three, writing books at home.

Talking of false online identity, I watched Catfish, the other day, which is an excellent documentary following a Facebook scam.  In my opinion, a much better look at the whole idea of Facebook than The Social Network (during which I fell asleep).  Why serve red wine to women in Arthouse cinemas?  What do they expect?

I bring it up, because everywhere I look there are articles and posts urging us all to stop Twittering and Facebooking and to remember how to ‘live in the moment’. Easier said than done. Where is this fifteen minute patch of the day, where I should be ‘sitting in a quiet warm room’ and ‘contemplating my breathing’? Are the people who write these articles having a laugh? Do they have children?  Or heating they put on in March?

So, if meditation it out,  maybe I should try another of their suggestions and play a musical instrument instead?  Maybe that might help to soothe away the stresses of my everyday existence. I mooted this idea at the dinner table and the whole family started giggling, or sniggering (these days the difference is cuttingly thin).

Undeterred, I dug my old flute out of the deepest recesses of the playroom cupboard, assembled it, and played.  That shut them up.  I was shocked that after 15 years, I could still do a reasonable impression of a snake charmer. Once I’d got going, I trilled out ‘Variations On A Theme by Rossini’, a shrill little number I played back in the last century for my Grade 7 exam.  That cleared the room.  And aha!  Yes, momentarily, I did experience a smug sense of peace.

Sadly, the flute is now back in the cupboard.  There were no takers to follow in mine and James Gallway’s footsteps. The Big One has just got an electric guitar and prefers strutting round playing ACDC’s ‘Back In Black’ or ‘Sweet Home Alabama’. That’s clearly cool.  Whereas a forty something woman playing the flute, equally clearly, is not.

Maybe I should go online for the solution.  Maybe there’s a support group of Facebookers or Twitterers out there just waiting for me to join their ranks. Maybe mumscanrock2.net.  Or flutemebabyyeah.com.  I bet even DaddyStrokes is a member of that.

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