Sunday, 8 May 2011

If you're looking for serious or intelligent content...

...then you've probably come to the wrong place. Because, try as I might, I don't seem able to comment on some of the weightier issues that now regularly feature on Twitter. Every other day, I log on and find someone or other blowing a virtual gasket about rising sea levels, the royal wedding, foreign unrest or the Alternative Vote system. Twitterati urge me to display a logo in support of this; a ribbon against that; or to bang a drum on their behalf about the other, whatever the other is. And I'm beginning to wonder whether my inability to engage with these weighty matters makes me a Bad Person. I'll give you an example.

The other day, amongst the usual crop of supermarket flyers and half price roller blind offers in the paper, I found a pamphlet from WWF, urging me to 'adopt a tiger'. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't adoption usually involve assuming the role of a parent? I thought to myself, 'if I agree to adopt one, how would I cope with the bottle feeding, the nocturnal roaring and the housetraining?' But then I read on, and realised that all they actually wanted was three pounds a month, not for me to act in loco tigris. In exchange, apparently, I would get a cuddly tiger, and updates about my chosen animal three times a year. What would these 'updates' be, I wondered. Would it be 'January the ninth: wandered about the jungle for a bit. Scared a couple of people. Ate a monkey'? Or would it just be some bland corporate statement about the importance of engaging with authorities in the subcontinent to ensure the continued existence of this particular species? Douglas Adams was of the opinion that the best way to save an animal from extinction is to start eating it. I disagree. I think the best way to save tigers for future generations is to give them names. I think we should try it. I guarantee that poachers would find it much harder to kill a tiger if they knew the Bengal in the cross hairs of their rifle was called Colin. Or Doreen.

See? I must be a bad person. I can't even take endangered wildlife seriously. It's always seemed strange to me that conservationists spend so much time and effort saving creatures that, given half a chance, would kill and eat them. That's probably why I couldn't be a vet, being pecked to pieces by a raptor when all you're trying to do is mend its broken leg. It'd be like a doctor having to fight every patient s/he tried to treat.

I seemed to have strayed from the point a bit. Nothing unusual there. Anyway, when, in an idle moment, I decide to browse through Twitter's timeline, I get the distinct impression that I'm out of step with the rest of the human race. In fact, I'm even beginning to wonder whether I should be on Twitter at all. Let's look at the evidence. I don't hate the Royal Family, or, come to that, Margaret Thatcher, the Daily Mail or the United States. I'm not a 'single issue' tweeter, be it about childcare, or crochet work or science fiction. And I don't feel the need to curse and swear about things that don't impact upon me and that I cannot change. In fact, I can't think of a single issue that would get me up early to carry a placard in a march to 10 Downing Street. But perhaps my fellow tweeters are the same. Maybe they wouldn't be happy marching on government to demand the banning of something or the saving of something else. Perhaps they feel it's enough to eff and blind about it online in a sort of cyber-tourette's outburst. A very good example of this occurs when BBC airs Question Time on a Thursday night. The panel is usually fairly balanced - a tory, a labour politician, a libdem, a right wing thinker and a left wing journalist, or vice versa for the last two. Once the programme gets under way, Twitter's timeline is full of venom and vitriol for the right-wingers, whilst at the same time pointing out how statesmanlike, cogent, intelligent and fair the left leaning panel members are. The programme's live audience are also, I suspect, tweeters on a night out, as almost to a man (or woman) they boo the tories and applaud the socialists. And that's when I start do right wing parties get voted into office when everyone seems to hate them so much? Why did the UK vote so overwhelmingly against AV when everyone on Twitter seemed for it? And why is it that the Daily Mail has the second highest circulation in the UK when it is, apparently, hated with a fierce intensity? And that's also when I long for a return to Twitter's halcyon days. The days when tweeters were content to list their favourite love songs, replacing the word 'love' with 'knob'. Or selecting a species of fish and inserting it into the title of a film or play (example - A midsummer night's bream).

Hmm. I'm in danger of straying into the realms of serious discussion here. Time for a lie down, I think. In the next post it'll be back to morris dancing and Middenshire. Far less controversial...