Re-evaluating my Relationship with Twitter
I enjoy Twitter. I consider it to be an amusing diversion. It provides an opportunity to interact with friends that I’ve made all over the world. I find that swapping banter and trading quips with my twitter chums, often raises the spirits after a day filled with first world problems.
I recently went through my Twitter settings and “unfollowed” a lot of accounts. This included celebrities that only Tweet occasionally when they had a tour or a book to promote. Politicians and social commentators whose views and principles I find tiring. I even ditched a few fellow bloggers who have a tendency to whine or moan about their lot in life. You could argue that I’ve created an echo chamber and that I’m living in an online bubble. You may well be right. Humans often do the opposite of what they claim to believe. It’s like our default setting is one of cognitive dissonance.
The today at about 6:15 PM GMT the following Tweets appeared in my timeline. A timeline filled with gaming news, movie trivia, jokes and fun; a tide of light, ephemeral and utterly inconsequential inanities.
There amid all the trivia and decadence that we surround ourselves with on a daily basis was a picture of a small child, face down in the water on a beach in Turkey. Dead.
It took several seconds for this image to fully compute. What exactly was this picture that Father Roderick Vonhogen had unceremoniously dumped in my bright and cheerful timeline? So I followed the link to The Independent website and read the subsequent story. Then finally magnitude of what was depicted finally hit me and it hit me hard. I make no bones about the fact that I wept at the utter tragedy of what I saw and read.
If you can bring yourself to follow the link to the newspaper article, you’ll discover the very human face of the “ongoing migrant crisis” that is currently occurring across Europe. The child is believed to be a dead Syrian refugee, one of eleven that have died trying to reach the Greek island of Kos. Like many people, my perception of this political and social issue is both vague and abstract. Until today it’s simply something that has just occupied the news and frankly doesn't have any meaningful impact upon my cosy life.
Today that has changed.
I have no political axe to grind with regard this matter. I fully appreciate that all the factors that are contributory to the current wave of migrants are very complex. This is not a black and white situation and there are no easy solutions or quick fixes. I am sympathetic to the needs of both the migrants and refugees as well the populations of the European countries affected. But as a human being I can no longer ignore the fact that there is a very real tragedy taking place on my very doorstep. I cannot dismiss dead children washing up on beaches as if it were nothing. So tomorrow I shall start by lobbying my local Member of Parliament and seek clarification as to exactly what the UK government is doing with regard to this matter. Ironically my MP James Brokenshire, is also Minister of State for Immigration. Contacting my political representative may not have much impact but it’s a start. A position of concerns is better than one of indifference.
And so we return to the subject of Twitter. Ultimately it is wrong to adopt a shoot the messenger mind set, after all my Twitter timeline is something of my own making. Plus it is intellectually flawed to assume that everything that is not a weighty issue is “bad” and should be dismissed. Relativism and context should not be thrown out with the bath water in a fit of knee-jerk self-pity.
However I do think that if Twitter is to continue to be one of the windows that I use to view the world, it may be time to take some steps to change the view. I need to leave my self-imposed comfort zone and allow a greater diversity of content in my timeline. Rather than disengaging with the world as I grow older, I need to do the opposite. Exactly what I should do I’m not sure but I feel that I should do something? Changing my use of social media is perhaps the first step of that process.