Saturday, 30 July 2011

Dark side of Twitter

I am quite enjoying Twitter, though I don't think I have the right kind of approach for it to really work for me (the right kind of approach seems to be almost continual updates & lots of interaction.) I enjoy the chance to follow people without being compelled to comment, which is different from blogs.

Yesterday made me pause. One of the people I follow, a popular, prolific woman (who doesn't follow me), someone who updates all day long but is funny and amusing, someone who gets drunk and fires out random nonsense, last night posted some increasingly random thoughts and then something about not even being able to kill herself successfully. Then she posted photos of her slashed wrists.

Someone on Twitter (who must have known her) called the police, who took her to hospital. This morning she blogged about why she had done it, reassured people and thanked them for their concern.

It was clear that it was a cry for help. But the nature of Twitter, the constant continual updates, the ease of tweeting every passing thought that flashes through your brain if you want to, the legions of followers which give the impression of company, it must make it easy for people who are ill to feel like they are being supported. And I guess that is better than nothing.

But then as a 'follower' this level of voyeurism makes me feel very queasy. I don't know this woman, I don't know her address. Whether she knew it or not, she was asking for help but most of the people reading it wouldn't have been able to help her.

I don't know what I'm trying to say, just that it was very very disturbing and felt all wrong.

People must try to commit suicide all the time, you just don't usually get a ringside seat.

4 comments:

  1. Yes, I think so. But do you then unfollow someone or would that make them feel worse?

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  2. hello. I just wondered over here from Cultural Snow. A lot of people are very scathing about Twitter without having tried it. I think it is genuinely supportive to people who feel isolated and alone. Nothing on the level you describe, but I've blurted the occasional tweet along the lines of 'I'm down, someone make me laugh' or such like and had lovely replies that did cheer me up. Which is better than not having them, on balance. 8-)

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  3. Hello, broken biro! You are right, it's the positive social side of social networking. I guess it was being in the position of a passive observer (which you are by default if your followee doesn't follow you back) which made me feel a bit wrong...

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