I have to say my relationship with Twitter has not been a happy one.
I remember when I first started using it, within a couple of weeks Stephen Fry (who I know) had decided to quit Twitter after some random act of verbal violence by a thug. Stephen’s reaction was driven by his manic depression – I know because we talked about it – and he finally saw sense, felt the love of his vast following, and relented. The sadness he felt was that the chap who had delivered the insult wasn’t a particularly bad man and he was attacked mercilessly by Stephen’s followers until he had to leave Twitter – ironic really.
Manic depression (and please don’t tell me it’s not called that anymore – I’ve had too many total prats tell me “it’s called bipolar nowadays” – don’t you think I know that, I’ve lived with it for 30 years) does things to your mind that are cruel. It makes you believe everybody hates you just because one person may have said something unpleasant and reinforced your own self hatred. It makes you doubt your own abilities to the extent that any form of success is an utter surprise. And it accentuates your love for something into a feeling more akin to desperate reliance rather than the warm and lovely feeling normal mortals feel.
Well my MD (I’ll use this short cut for manic depression –you pedantic twats can read bipolar for it instead) does that; and here’s the thing about MD – it does different things to different people, that is the pure beauty of mental illness. I do understand the main key identifiers and their commonality across the population, but just like any ‘treat’ in life, it’s the personalisation that really counts.
I am a successful individual, I have worked in ‘showbiz’ all my life and as a result know a lot of ‘famous’ people simply as friends. I get invited to fancy parties (I rarely go but the invites continue) I work in TV right now and will be recording an album of my songs sometime soon. Life should be good but, of course, it isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, most of my life I have ridden the wave that is MD, and haven’t let it rule my life. Outwardly, so long as things don’t get too personal or emotional, I am stable, quite jolly at times and sociable. I am a little ‘cold’ as they say – I don’t emotionally connect – but that often comes across as a leadership quality and people do follow me (which I find quite amusing given how I feel inside) and have done all my life.
But here’s the thing. Ever since I joined Twitter I have struggled with my MD in ways that have never been there before. I like twitter, there is a community of individuals which quite suits my detached sociability system, you chat without knowing who you are chatting to. Strangely some people want to turn Twitter into a place where they can connect in real life with people – it doesn’t hold that attraction for me and I don’t really understand it, but whatever works. To me its remoteness (some of my best chums on Twitter don’t even have a photo of themselves up – and I am like that as well) is what makes it work. I don’t need to connect, I don’t need to be nice and I don’t need to justify anything I say. In simple terms if somebody sends back a mention I can ignore it.
So in theory Twitter should be an ideal place for me. Anonymity, no social contact, a place to publish my views. But Twitter has become a strange connector of people for me. Of course you cannot choose your followers on Twitter (well you can create a closed group but the point of that defeats me) and I seem to have collected a lot of very clever people. Smart folk with ‘posh’ accents (that’s how I see them) now follow this working class boy from Yorkshire and, to be frank, they intimidate me! Ironic isn’t it, that the people who like to connect with me are the reason why I struggle with the medium.
They are lovely people, that are appreciative of my opinions and interventions but they magnify my personal feelings of inadequacy and by doing so they magnify my MD. Don’t get me wrong, there are other things happening in my life – big things – that are also effecting me but I just don’t think Twitter helps!
So what to do? For the last few days I have just posted and not interacted. Maybe that will work. I doubt it though to be honest. Maybe I should simply not go onto Twitter anymore. I managed without it until 18 months ago and I’m sure I can get back to that, but do I want to?
A few days ago I was fiddling with my avatar and I changed it to a picture of my dog Izzy. I should say that I bought Izzy 5 years ago for purely selfish reasons. I was at a low point in my life (yeh another one) and was seriously considering suicide. But I have kids and I angered myself for even thinking of doing that to them; but still the feelings remained. The idea came to me to buy a dog. My kids have left home and their needs are not immediate, a dog would rely totally on me and I wouldn’t be able to consider leaving it alone. It worked and we are incredibly close.
So when I put the picture up on Twitter I did it as a proud dad and some folk hit me with what I’m sure they thought were clever and funny comments. Unfortunately, for me, they were the same as somebody making fun of your kids. So I took the picture down and left. I made a comment and funnily enough some of my followers asked who it was who had upset me; on a minor scale I suddenly saw the Stephen Fry parallel, I didn’t reply. I don’t need defending.
The question remains do I ‘need’ Twitter? Clearly I don’t but maybe I do. Let’s see how it goes with less Twitter and more real life – wow what a brave concept that is.