Sunday, 24 June 2012

Tweet all about it! Tweet all about it!

As you may know, I have finally succumbed and opened a Twitter account.  It became increasingly obvious that my quill-writing and carrier pigeon form of communication had become archaic and for someone who writes a blog I shouldn’t be so moralistic about sharing online.

And like all social media it has become obsessive.  You check each day to see who is following you and get excited when you find someone new to follow.

But what is this need to “follow” and be “followed”?  People are always interested in knowing covert details which others may not be privy to.  We all love the “behind the scenes extras” on DVDs or to read a celebrity “bare all” in a Heat magazine exclusive.  Well, you wouldn’t catch me wasting my hard-earned pennies on that drivvle but you catch my drift.

We “follow” celebrities or interesting people on Twitter in the hope of catching a glimpse into their worlds.  If you play that “which 10 people would you invite to a dinner party” game, Stephen Fry is nearly always on somebody’s list and that is reflected in the 4,473,205 followers he has online (as of today’s date.)  He is so online savvy that you could argue he championed the whole tweeting thing and he has 6 blogs.  Yes 6, now I feel insignificant!  Here is a traditional wordsmith who knows how to transfer his skills online.
Photograph: Steve Forrest/Rex Features
Obviously social media has its downsides as reflected in a story a few weeks ago about a high society couple displaying their acrimonious divorce all over the internet.  It prompted a media fury about the use of these sites with columnist India Knight commenting “Never tweet when you are feeling hurt or upset, drunk or if your family is falling apart,” and Janet Street Porter in The Daily Mail to say “This modern compulsion to let it all hang out makes my flesh crawl.”  It is an opinionated but brilliant article and I have to say that I agree with the majority of it, take a look at the link below.

But the majority of people don’t use online media to tell you about their fungal infections or cheating spouses, it can be a positive, networking and professional tool.

It struck me as I was breathless with giggles about to go onstage the other night that those backstage moments are the reason people follow me and other Avenue Q-ers online, (sorry #avenuequktour if I have the Twitter lingo down!)  We have no celebrity status, but people are interested in what we do and enjoy being part of our banter.
Tweeting away at work! photo by Katherine Hall
There is a large following online for theatre folk because people are passionate about our craft.  As Michael Simkins pointed out in The Telegraph actors now “face a critic in every seat”; it is not just judging journalists we have to worry about but anybody with an internet connection and an opinion.  Various online forums provide an outlet for every Tom, Dick or Harry’s views and you learn the hard way not to Google yourself!  According to one candid Les Miserables fan I cannot act and the best bit about my performance as Eponine was that I died.  Harsh!  We live in a democracy and everyone has free speech; but that didn’t soothe me as I wept over my laptop or fellow actress Sofia Escobar who responded over Twitter to her critics prompting Simkins’ article.

You have to be tough to survive in the online world, harden that skin and put on your self-esteem armour.  Or maybe we could not go looking for such things online?  Use these tools to promote, connect and inform but maybe try not to go looking for other people’s opinions on you.  It can only lead to stress because if you believe the good ones you have to believe the bad too, whether the person is a world-renowned theatre critic or Joan from Milton Keynes who has seen Wicked 1044 times. 

But everything is just opinion and the only opinion that counts is the one you have of yourself.

So I plan to enjoy Twitter.  Yes I will nose into Stephen Fry’s day and tell the world about Trekkie’s onstage flatulence but I won’t take it too seriously and I won’t become part of the Twitterati and force my opinions onto everyone else. 

That’s what this blog is for!

1 comment:

  1. ah I am glad you have joined the new twitter world, I'lll go find you now! Another good read love x