If you can’t beat the Twitterati, join them


We’ve all been there.

Steve Carson (husband of Miriam O’Callaghan) reportedly said last week – joking, I’m sure – that there are three of them in the marriage. Steve, Miriam, and Miriam’s iPhone.

Apart from the obvious – how she has time to even breathe, never mind tweet – it begs the question; how many of us could say our relationship is subject to the whims of a small lump of attractively put together plastic and metal?

As if being an award-winning broadcaster, mother of many, wife and all round idol of the women of Ireland wasn’t enough, Miriam’s also one of the country’s top Twitter personalities. She’s legendary for her consistency in replying, engaging with her viewers and listeners, and being (genuinely) very very nice on Twitter.

Of course, Miriam is also a highly intelligent woman, and knows better than to get involved in the type of stupid arguments the rest of us habitually engage in on various social media, notably Twitter.

I don’t know whether she participated in the recent Twitter Silence, because I was too busy arguing with someone about why it was a bad idea. I’m not sure of her views on Radio One’s new schedule (although I believe she – genuinely – wasn’t interested in Pat Kenny’s job, per yesterday’s Herald), because I was so busily engaged in a discussion of why it was good but not perfect with a group of equally argumentative types. I didn’t see her programme on Saturday night, but I believe the Christy Dignam interview was heartrending. How do I know? Actually, Facebook, this time.

So while my empathy lies with Miriam on her supposedly close relationship with her iPhone, I’ve a strong suspicion that of my beleaguered other half would lie with Mr Carson. Because there are lots of things about my Twitter use that, I’m pretty sure, get up his nose.

You see, it’s all very well getting up of a Sunday and having a lovely companionable breakfast with your loved one and the newspapers. But the tradition is based on arguing about – sorry, discussing –  the stories of the day with the person in front of you; not with a selection of witty strangers you wouldn’t recognise if they sat next to you on the bus.

The romantic meal out is certainly worth poring over… with your nearest and dearest, probably not with the thousands who follow you on twitter.

And the latest addition to your range of homewares is certainly a talking point… in your home. But probably shouldn’t be, with the same thousands who disagree with your views on abortion but are heartily retweeting your latest reflection on LGBT rights in Russia. And who, if you met them on the street, you probably wouldn’t let into your house.

For the people around me, though, the worst thing about my being welded to my phone is the mood swings.

It might not be a medical condition but at times, it sure acts like one. There have been days when someone disagreeing with me on Twitter has ruined not just my day, but cast a cloud over everyone around me. I can go from the sunniest disposition to a female Oscar the Grouch (but with better hair) in seconds. And the problem is, there’s no way for him to know this has happened until he meets the sharp end of it.

The solution is obvious. Get off Twitter? What rot.

If you can’t beat them, join them. I’ve got it from a reliable source that Mr Carson is also on Twitter, albeit under an assumed name. That’s what’s known as a ‘lurker’. So chances are he’s fairly aware at any given time what’s going on between Miriam and her legions of fans, and how it might be affecting the mood of the person beside him on the couch.

As one particularly effective ad campaign for something completely different puts it – join the conversation!

Published in the Herald, 13 August.

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