Almost two years ago I wrote about how Twitter changed my life. I still thank my lucky stars for it every day. It’s enriched my life immeasurably. I know that a lot of people don’t understand it and some don’t want to understand it but for me it’s opened up a whole new world of possibilities, introduced me to wonderful friends and widened my horizons. It’s made me laugh and it’s made me cry, and if it were to be switched off tomorrow I would mourn its loss because I would be poorer without it.
Back in March 2011 I did something which some might say was very stupid. I agreed to drive over 50 miles to a small Lincolnshire village and meet a Twitter friend in a pub car park. We were meeting in the evening so it was dark and when I arrived I discovered I had very little phone signal. Sandy won’t mind me saying that the word “dodgy” crossed my mind more than once as I sat in my car waiting for her to arrive. I’d given my dad every piece of information I knew about Sandy and her partner Chris because you can never be too careful. I’d spoken to her on the phone a couple of times and I knew what she looked like but you hear such awful stories …
A large saloon car pulled into the car park and I squinted through the glass and there she was grinning like a Cheshire Cat and waving. I got out of my car and before theirs had barely stopped the passenger door flew open and Sandy came rushing towards me with arms outstretched. She hugged me tightly and I knew everything was going to be ok. After a hug from Chris I was positive. I felt like I’d known them for ages.
As I drove home later that night having had a thoroughly great evening I couldn’t quite believe my luck. I’d just met two of the loveliest people you can possibly imagine and I knew without any doubt that we would be friends for a very long time.
Two months later and I was greeted with a big hug outside York Minster by another lovely person, Nic. We spent the day eating, drinking (tea for me, wine for her – I still get teased about that), gossiping and gazing with rather bemused looks at some rather risqué artwork in York Minster. Another friendship forged.
A few months later Sandy, Chris, Nic and I all met in London for a day of picnicking in Regent’s Park and visiting the zoo. It was the first time Nic had met Sandy and Chris. There was much laughter over popping corks and a multitude of double entendres, some rather wonderful potato salad and a lot of chattering. We all got on so brilliantly it was hard to imagine a time when we hadn’t met.
Twelve months after I first met Sandy and Chris we all (Nic too) arranged to meet in York for a weekend and this time someone else, Julia, came too. You may remember we capered in a convent! Another fantastic friend to add to the list and it was Julia who was there with me last week, helping me find my courage.
We all meet as often as we can. Sometimes all of us together, sometimes not, but we never fail to have fun, talk a lot, laugh and eat plenty.
They never meet but there’s a skirmish of wit between them.”
William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act 1, Sc. 1.
There have been several other wonderful people I’ve met along the way. The lovely vivacious Vix who introduced me to the joys of Brixham; Jen, simply the best person to camp with at an air show come muddy swamp or sun-scorched field; kind and generous Sal who will tramp round London in the pouring rain; and Julian and Amanda both of whom I finally met last week after nearly three years of tweeting. And there have been others.
Without Twitter I wouldn’t have met any of these people or shared so many experiences with them. I wouldn’t be writing about air shows or convents or steep hills. I wouldn’t be raving about Shakespeare at The Globe. I probably wouldn’t know what the Pathfinders were and I certainly wouldn’t have been to a screening of a film about finding them. And my life would be so much poorer.
But it’s not just about the people I’ve met in the flesh. It’s about those I’m yet to meet and those I’ll never meet; all those people who fill my Twitter timeline 24 hours a day. You’re only ever a tweet away from a kind word, a shared laugh or just a hello. Twitter can be an escape, a provider of inspiration, a shoulder to cry on, or a place to let off steam. Sometimes it’s just a place to be ridiculously silly.
If it wasn’t for Twitter I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Blogging hadn’t even crossed my mind before I was inspired by other bloggers I discovered through Twitter. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t be writing at all because it was fan fiction that got me writing and I’d never heard of that before Twitter.
I’ve discovered new music, new films, new books, new places, new food, so many new things through Twitter it’s hard to comprehend just how I ever survived without it.
Don’t get me wrong, there are downsides: hate, ignorance, spam, misogyny, sexism, I could go on. But, those things are downsides of life; they don’t exist solely on Twitter. And if you’re sensible, apply common sense and maybe don’t arrange to meet in a slightly less than salubrious car park in the dark (although I don’t regret this for one minute) all of that can be avoided and who knows what you might discover?
To all my Twitter friends, those I’ve met, those I hope to meet and those who I never will, wherever you are, I send much love and a big thank you from the very bottom of my heart.