In which I am no twit.

Printed 02/04/09.

I like to test myself.

I consider it a small, tenuous contribution to the progress of humankind to see how long I can last without things. How long can I last without peanut butter? Without sarcasm? Without having a wee, because the toilet’s all the way downstairs and also quite cold? We’ve gone three months without fixing the oven handle, six months without taping the banisters back together, and a fraught month and a half without paying the water bill (thankfully we can also go pretty long without washing).

But over the last few months, my toughest and most impressive exercises in willpower have been a) putting off joining Twitter and b) putting off writing about joining Twitter. It would seem I’ve failed on b) first, which is almost certainly the wrong order of things, and means you’re about to get a big pile of badly-informed guesswork, instead of a properly researched article. And, damnit, it’s going to be more than 140 characters long.

As far as I can discern, the main attractions for joining Twitter are, in order:
  • Stalking Stephen Fry’s every move.
  • Laughing at Stephen Fry’s immense wit.
  • Knowing when Stephen Fry has walked through a park.
  • It’s so much less futile and time-consuming than Facebook, thus better.
  • It helps you make more fabricated friendships to then embellish. On Facebook.
Not since One Night in Paris has a celebrity lent so much endorsement to the internet.

Of course, being a healthy member of the human race, I love Stephen Fry. I would marry him tomorrow, were the opportunity to arise, and happily spend the rest of my days in a chaste union of minds, wearing smoking jackets, eating crumpets by a fireplace, and chortling over P.G. Wodehouse. Of course I would. Definitely.

But while a daily delivered sentence from Stephen may well bring joy, and use of the word ‘widdle’, into my life in glorious abundance, I can’t help feeling there should be more to it. Though supposedly, that’s the point, as I’m told once a day by smug Twitterers that the beauty of the whole operation is its minimalism. Each “Tweet” (and wish I were making that up) is only a sentence or so long, because that is how long really, really interesting people should need to convince the rest of the world they’re sufficiently interesting.

But most people are not really, really interesting, are they now? Come on chaps, we KNOW this. We’ve spent three years reading that the bulk of our 200 nearest and dearest are “tired and going to bed lolz” or “omg drunnnnnkkkkkkk”. We’ve learnt that while our friends prove their worth in other areas, cooking lasagne or fixing our laptops or telling us we have nice hair, they’re generally not wizards with the English language. For the most part, they eat average meals, sit in average pubs, spell it “definately” and overuse exclamation marks. They are not Stephen Fry.

It’s still a battle though. Because the truth, no matter how much I try to masquerade it with miniskirts and accidental spills over my keyboard, is that I am a technology geek. I spend longer in the morning doing the internet necessaries – email, other email, Facebook, eBay, msn, Hypemachine, Facebook again in case it changed – than I do on my makeup (though of course, when you can do your liquid eyeliner with one hand and de-tag a bad photo with the other, you know you know you’ve achieved ultimate modern womanhood). To borrow a quote from Fry, “If I added up all the hours I've sat watching a progress bar fill up, I could live another life.”

Ultimately, while I know that my friends are not gripping wordsmiths, and that I am not nearly interesting enough to bother Obama with details of my lunch, I also know that resistance is futile. I shall join, I shall get addicted, I shall feel a warm fuzzy feeling every time I know Mr Fry is eating a pasty. Because it is the natural order of things. But if my Tweet is ever about finally paying a water bill, I give Stephen full permission to delete me.