I tweet therefore I am
It happens at least half a dozen times a day. I walk into the study where one of my children is supposedly busy doing their homework on the computer only to catch the fleeting glimpse of a mouse furtively clicked and a Facebook page magically minimised like a genie squeezed back into the bottle.
This is accompanied by the reddened face of an under-aged cyber addict caught in flagrante delicto. What follows is the inevitable speech about the mental contagion of viral, social media. I keep the speech short. It makes little difference and it prevents me from exiting the room and getting back to my IPad twitter feed asap.
The Freis are becoming a family of addicts. I used to think that all those obsessed with Twitter were, well, twits. But over the last six months I have been born again. I tweet therefore I am. I have come to value Twitter as an almost indispensable tool for my day job, a portable, easily digestible stream of information, analysis and of course gossip.
I am still learning the Haiku of good tweeting. And I keep a sad and ceaseless eye on the number of followers. On the whole this is a straightforward business transaction. The more you tweet, the more followers you get.
Investments are rewarded. But when the number of followers goes down, as it has done, on a few- occasions, it hurts. Deeply. Personally. Who has unfollowed me? What have I said? How can I make it up to you? These questions alone are proof that I have gone insane and that I should heed the advice of Christopher “Biz” Stone, co-founder of Twitter, who has warned his 500 million devotees to use less of his product and get a life.
It’s a bit like Johnny Walker telling you to drink less. We have a lively debate about this subject on our programme. It pitches the anti-social media purist Baroness Susan Greenfield, a neurologist who is convinced that the excessive use of social media is turning us into freaks and changing the wiring of our brains, against Mark Henderson, author of the soon to be published Geek’s Manifesto.
He, as you might expect, is adamant that tweeting and Facebook are the food of life. From shy teenagers to oppressed Syrians, social media has given a voice to those who would otherwise remain unheard. Both have a point. Moderation is surely the sensible answer – 51 minutes a day on Twitter and Facebook, the amount officially recommended by the EU (just kidding) and the fact that I can write something longer than 140 characters, is surely proof that I am on the road to being cured. Now let me get back to that picture of a hamster on a trapeze.
Follow @mattfrei on Twitter