I'm new to Twitter and haven't quite become comfortable with it yet. It confuses me greatly, and here's why.
Stephen Fry, the Twitter poster-boy, makes a comment like "Home. Fast falls the eventide and so forth. Time for a little voddie in the bathtub" and many thousands of people instantly read this via PC, laptop, mobile, etc, and are INTERESTED in hearing it.
A man who many of them will never meet, has announced that he's going to have a drink and a bath, they're pleased to received this nugget of information via the technology of their choice, and I DON'T KNOW WHY!
What is of even more concern, is that I'm a follower of Fry's tweets and I was also interested. What's happening? Since when did a stranger's life become something to read about in 140-character segments?
I don't understand Twitter. I don't understand what it's for, or why it's so bloody addictive. I demand explanations.
Strangely, I was on the train to Nottingham on Wednesday afternoon, and sent out a tweet saying, "Cattle class train from St Pancras to Nottingham. Dirty, scruffy and perfectly unpleasant. I miss 1st class."
Checking my phone about ten minutes later, I'd received the following reply from a complete stranger, "Rablenkov I am on the same train - A23 - the guy with the laptop setup -"
Several thoughts tumbled through my mind in rapid succession: 1) Is this some sort of chat-up line? Have I stumbled into the sordid world of same-sex Twitter dating?, 2) No, obviously not, the guy is just doing what Twitter's all about - social networking, and finally, 3) Will he suggest meeting up for a coffee and a chat?
At first, I was greatly concerned by this new development but, after a few messages back and forth, we went our separate ways and the universe returned to normal, slightly shaken but otherwise unharmed.
It was an exceedingly odd experience. Furthermore, I couldn't help thinking that if the poor chap had been sitting directly opposite me and suddenly said, "How are you? Having a good day?", I may well have yelped, fumbled in my jacket pocket for a can of pepper spray and shouted "Somebody help me, I'm being engaged in friendly conversation against my will!"
That's the odd thing about Twitter - you'll happily chat to someone or tell a group of random strangers what you're doing right at that moment, but if a living, breathing, sitting-in-front-of-you person tries to talk to you in real life, you're rather more likely to engage them in a bout of fisticuffs than a conversation.
I'm sure there's some deeper point behind all this, but for the life of me I can't think what it is. Far too busy having fun drinking this brandy.
On an unrelated note, I saw the excellent Peter Serafinowicz at St. Pancras station on Wednesday, with his wife Sarah Alexander. For a brief moment, I contemplated approaching him and saying something along the lines of "I'm a huge fan of yours. Just wanted to say hi", but then I realised that it would make me look like a massive cock.
I walked away instead, self-respect intact, not feeling like a complete and utter spanner.
Other things have happened over the last couple of days, but most of it has been so mediocre that even a healthy dose of outrage and 'humour' couldn't save it from being crushingly tedious.
My next post shall be about writing.