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Maybe I'm Too Old To Twitter

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Jeff Zycinski | 18:00 UK time, Sunday, 24 May 2009


The journalist and restaurant critic, Allan Brown, has written a very funny article for today's Sunday Times Ecosse section. I don't mean that to sound like a rare or unexpected event (he said quickly, fearing the wrath of the mighty Murdoch media empire) but I just wanted to flag it up before I move on to something else. Allan's funny article concerns an over-elaborate dessert trolley which he encountered in a Stirlingshire hotel. The newspaper cost me two quid, but it was almost worth it for that piece alone. (No problem Mr Murdoch, Sir.)

But, as I say, that's not what I want to talk about. I refer you, instead, to another Allan Brown article.

Also in today's Ecosse section and under the headline "Twittering should be made a cardinal sin" Allan describes this latest social networking phenomenon as "the most facile and otiose social trend since flash mobbing". He goes on to say that "only two types of people over the age of 30 continue to Twitter: braggart lawyer blokes and verbally incontinent professionally anxious women in the creative industries".

This worries me because, although I'm well over 30, I fit into neither of those groups. I do, however, have the horrible feeling that I am too old to Twitter. Let me try to explain in my customary manner by recounting a childhood memory.

When I was six years old, I wrote to Santa asking him to bring me a set of Meccano. On Christmas morning 1969 Mr Claus duly obliged and I remember spending a happy hour or so playing with the nuts and bolts not caring that I had no idea what I was doing. As it happens I have six older brothers so it wasn't long before they took control of the set and, like magic, turned the various metal panels into a small jeep. Then the jeep was dismantled and turned into a crane. Then a speedboat.

It was Easter 1973 before I got my hands back on that Meccano by which time the grown-ups (as I saw them) had sucked all the fun out of it.

Were I to prod you awake at this point, you might well wonder what that story has to do with the Twitter phenomenon. Well, until recently, the Twitter-sphere seemed to be inhabited by teenagers and twenty-somethings all keen to share their thoughts on music gigs and reality TV shows. It was the online equivalent of loitering on street corners talking about nothing much at all. In other words, it was a bit of fun with your mates.

Nowadays, too many Twitter friends and followers seem to be blokes like me; grown men and women keen to assure ourselves that we are not missing out on anything and trying to prove to our teenage sons and daughters that we are, well, "connected".
The trouble starts when we start to take it too seriously.

Last week, for example, blog reader Fiona MacBeath told me that she and her husband would miss the big Inverness game on Saturday because they would be flying across the Atlantic at the start of a family holiday. I, of course, offered to attend the game and Twitter updates live from the scene. Fiona thought this was a great idea and decided to subscribe to Twitter to take advantage of this unique offer. And yes, because I'm a grown up and aware of my responsibilities as an adult, I had to stick to my promise. That's why, yesterday afternoon, I spent a thumb-numbing ninety minutes hammering away at the keys on my BlackBerry. I described the pre-match atmosphere, I alluded to the BBC Radio Scotland commentary and I was right on the button with the kick-off. I was doing quite well, in fact, until the blasted thing slipped out of my lap and scudded down three rows of the family stand. Yes, if you were watching the game on the telly, I was that bloke bobbing around the crowd and annoying all the home fans by asking them if they'd seen my phone. I wouldn't be surprised if I also distracted some of the Caley players with my antics and maybe that's what cost us the game.

So, yes, maybe I am too old to Twitter.

Anyone want to be my pen-pal?


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