In the last months I gave in to my reservations and set up an account on Twitter.
I had been reluctant to join this form of social media because I thought the Facebook and ASmallWorld were quite enough. I also had a LinkedIn account but frankly hardly ever log in as it seems like pointlessly dull. Frankly, I think I’d rather be LinkedOut. Perhaps one of you might convince me to the contrary but I’d be surprised if you could.
The SmallWorld, which I’d been part of since it started in 2004 was originally a website that was fun and friendly. The banter between the likes of Caroline “Cheeky” Monkey and William Aitken provided endless hours of amusement during my time working in a dull office in Mayfair and the site was incredibly useful for sharing tips. I met some fun characters through it and the early parties were jolly, if somewhat bonkers. Sadly as the network grew, an inevitable change came with it. The people became bland and the conversations inane, odd or just plain dull. The majority of early members were fun and fascinating. More recently, the chat-room resembled a pickup room dominated by Russian ladies of a certain type and Gucci-clad Arabs looking to hook just such. I followed many friends in showing our displeasure in this change by ceasing to use the SmallWorld this year.
Facebook was a site that I reluctantly joined much later on in 2006 but one I’ve since embraced enthusiastically. It is a website that is both useful and frustrating. I find it great for sharing pictures and news instantly with friends in far away places and it has proved most effective for business ventures I’ve been involved in as an advertising platform. The constant friend requests, however, are most bizarre. I went through a stage of asking: “Where did we meet?” and often got the most curious answers like “I love your photo” and “I’m sure I met you in Wagadugu” (and as far as I’m aware, I’ve never been there). I then went though a period of accepting all the requests I got (and consequently now have 2,178 “friends,” many of whom I don’t have the foggiest about). The result was that I ended up being bombarded by club promoters, oddjobs and bizarre requests from the weird, the wonderful and the frankly insane. For me, Facebook is a forum to share wit and wisdom rather than comments like “I’m bored” and “I’m at Gatwick for the second time today.” A few controversial pictures and silly groups like “Jim McDonald is innocent. So he is. So he is” (for those of you not in the know, he’s in Coronation Street) add to the website’s merits, though, and for these reasons I remain a member.
I began blogging in May this year after becoming embroiled in the remnants of scandal of a certain former ambassador’s wife who had been exposed for the shocking manner in which her charity was and continues to be run. Inspired by my brilliant blogger friend Michael Ezra (who writes at http://hurryupharry.org), I decided I would create a blog Da Steeps Speaks (as someone else was already using my own name for their own) to give my reply to the tittle-tattling pair who thought they could silence my complaints. I could not comprehend the response I have received especially as, when I began fascinated by another story, I moved on and wrote a little piece about the News of the World hacking scandal (http://dasteepsspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/07/news-is-screwed.html). To this day, I find it hard to believe that some 49,000 people have read that particular article and that since I’ve received 289 responses to this and other pieces from my readers. As a result of the blog, I’ve tasted food and drink I’d never considered before and been to events and places I’d never have imagined I’d go. What began as a forum that I briefly intended to use as a response to a scandalous episode involving some pretty vindictive people has ended up becoming a form of great enjoyment for me. I do hope my thoughts on everything from Lord Lucan to tea, Katherine Jenkins to gin and from Heather Mills McCartney to the umami taste sensation have provided you with pleasure or at least amusement as well.
Twitter was something I had great reservations about. I’d read about Elizabeth Hurley (@ElizabethHurley) “tweeting” about her parrots and her relationship with Shane Warne and thought “goodness, how dull” and the irksome Sally Bercow (@SallyBercow) bleating about how she was misunderstood and thought: “This ain’t for me.” On starting Da Steeps Speaks, however, I realised that to spread the word Twitter would actually really be useful and hence I’ve embarked on a journey that has brought me to learn about amongst other things:
- Posts being limited to 140 characters and how best to shorten links and comments.
- Hash tags (“#”) – designed to make a topic become a “trend” on Twitter.
- Follow Friday’s (“#FF”) – designed to encourage your “followers” to “follow” others you suggest.
- The “@” symbol – which includes another tweeter in a particular comment.
- “RT”ing – retweeting someone else’s posts to your own “followers.”
Don’t get me wrong: Twitter isn’t for everyone and it is incredibly time consuming and addictive, as people like Stephen Fry prove (@stephenfry) with 3,100,000 followers and nearly 10,000 tweets. The power of the medium, however, is that it provides a quick and easy way to communicate information and
The one important thing to remember about all these social networks though is summed up in a quote from a community manager named Erin Bury (http://www.erinbury.com):
“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.”
Some of my favourite Tweeters are Caroline Monk on Twitter at @CarolineMonk, Lyndon Ogbourne @LyndonOgbourne, Christine Hamilton @brit_battleaxe, Michael Ezra @MichaelEzra, Nobby Lobby @veniviedivici, Martin Miller’s Gin @MartinMillersGin, David Pun @wheresthepun, JING Tea @JINGTea, Sarah Canet @SpoonHQ, Alex Abrahams @AlexBloomGin, Barnaby Rodgers @BarnabyRodgers, Michael Winner @MrMichaelWinner, Henry Deedes @HenryDeedes, Shelley von Strunckel @vonStrunckel
Some restaurants to follow on Twitter I’d suggest are Galoupet @Galoupet, Ilia @Iliarestaurant, La Brasserie @LaBrasserie272, London Fine Dining Group @LondonFineDiner
Great blogs to follow are Michael Ezra’s at http://hurryupharry.org, Henry Deedes’ at http://deedesblog.dailymail.co.uk, The London Perspective at http://thelondonperspective.wordpress.com and Priscilla Pollara’s at http://travelblog.dailymail.co.uk/priscilla-pollara
Follow Da Steeps on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dasteepstweets