Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Why I Think I’m Falling Out of Love With Twitter

If I receive one more message of sympathy from a well wisher, I might well give in to temptation and dismantle a certain French super-mini and reassemble it into a robot that will do much more than shift its hips in a funky dance. This one will mete out destruction on a grand scale; which, when you think it about it, is pretty much what it has already done in the Hamstead Heath region of North London this week.

I’m not saying that people’s sentiments are misplaced but they do fail to understand me as a man. I regularly consider abandoning my Twitter account for precisely this reason. It’s fine that people think I’m funny or that I’m upstanding because I always follow my followers and respond to their messages, but I do that because, in my view, it is just common human decency. I was brought up to respect others. So, if somebody takes the time to follow me, then the least I can do is try to return the compliment. If somebody writes me an email, I will take time to write one back.

Broaden that out to my whole presence on Twitter and you will see that I am primarily trying to entertain people and bring people to my blog. I enjoy the challenge of trying to be funny inside 140 characters. If I can make people’s day a little brighter, then I’m happy. The effort I put into the work is considerable, the reward only spiritual, yet it is, nevertheless, a reward.

If I mock a celebrity like Peter Andre, it is because I believe that celebrities slight people without even realising it. To promise, as he recently did, to follow 10 people a day is, in my view, scornful of his relationship with his fanbase. Even if he does Twitter (and doesn’t simply employ a clever publicist), then following 10 people a day is still a ridiculously insignificant number. It would take 10 to 15 seconds out of his day and 63 years to follow all his current followers. Of course, I wouldn’t expect him to follow 100,000+ people, but he could put enough time into his account to show that there’s real investment into the work of connecting with his fans. Stephen Fry managed to follow 54,000 people before it became impossible to keep up but at least he has set the standard by which any other celebrity is judged.

I suppose it’s the problem with many supposed celebrities on Twitter and, to be fair, Peter Andre is far from the worst. In fact, in Twitter terms, he’s one of the more virtuous characters out there. Claudia Winkleman has 41,000 followers yet follows only 30 people. Let me say that again. This is Claudia Winkleman I’m talking about, not Elizabeth Taylor. 41,000 followers yet she follows only 30 people. The question of how she can only follow 30 people is perhaps eclipsed by that which questions why 41,000 people would to follow Claudia Winkleman. Yet, perhaps the worst offender of all is Alan Carr who is followed by 298,343 people and goes to the trouble of returning the compliment to 28. Is he deliberately trying to appear arrogant? Or is he just giving me a reason to dislike the man for something other than his vile, lewd innuendo and teeth-in-a-meat grinder voice?

The numbers game looks and sounds childish when set out like this. Yet what does it say about celebrities when they can’t be bothered to engage with real Twitterers? That they’re arrogant, vain, lazy, insincere, or, as in many cases, merely some sham fabrication created by a PR company to make their client look in touch with the real world?

Which takes me back to the kind comments that people have been sending 'me'. It’s right and good that people look out for other people. What troubles me is that their praise is predicated upon motives that have much to do with my supposed celebrity and not the efforts I’ve put into Twitter. If I didn’t have this name, would they think me funny? I guess not. And, from my side of the equation, it’s hard to feel any sense of accomplishment when you know people are judging you by a show you may have done in 1993 but you really can’t recall. The same, to a lesser extent, is true of this blog. I’m not so big a fool as to think that much of the attention it has received hasn’t had to do with the Madeley brand.

Those few of you who have read me long enough, know that I have this debate with myself regularly. I have yet to decide if I’m giving up Twitter (or even, to an extent, blogging) but I sometimes feel that effort is just not worth it.

So, though this makes me sound ungrateful, please don’t send me any more messages of support during this difficult period. If the person addressing you now is going through a tough time, I can assure you it has nothing to do with some young girl crashing a car into a parked mini. There really are bigger tragedies in the world that never make the front pages of the newspapers.


Steelso said...

Dear Uncle Dick.

Please carry on in the Twitter. I like your comedy stylings.

Mr Steel

Sam Wyld said...

I think I'd find you even funnier without the brand.

If you discover any time soon that Twitter is no longer your vehicle, then accept it as a means to elevating your comedic status to where it is today.

You're still you and a lot of people still follow you for good reason.

Rachie F said...

Don't leave Twitter Uncle Dick. You and my 4 year old daughter are solely responsible for my LOL moments of the day. Not much and I wish I could give you a more compelling reason, but there it is.

Rattling On said...

I don't have Twitter, but my 17 year old daughter does and that says it all to me. If you have the time and the inclination then...why not? As for packing it into 140 characters, have you considered haiku?
Get a grip and stop this nonsense about discontinuing the blog. This introspection is unusually needy for you, Dick. Regardless of who you are I enjoy your banter, and you are in the hallowed ranks of the 'favourites' on my PC.
Just remember- you can't please all of the people all of the time. Thank God.

Clairelh said...

Carry on Tweeting please. I didn't realise it WAS you in reality, just enjoy your posts & find them very funny.

yorkee1 said...

Uncle dick. I'm a kinda "tell it like it is" girl so please don't be offended if I sound harsh.

You are quite correct about the amount of celebs that only follow a chosen few. This is after all a social networking site. It would be, and is, extremely remiss of them to think that us followers are grateful for any morsel of detail on their lives. The celebs you refer to are possibly the worst offenders along with David hasselhoff, I have sent several @ messages with no response. No suprise really.

When my friends ask who I'm following, they look perplexed when I say Richard Madeley. "That bloke off morning tv?" they say. Now, to be honest, i can't be surprised at their surprise. I never knew quite how funny and clever you actually are until we "tweeted". I now direct them to your blog and defy them to not be amused! Of course the fact that you are a good looking chap has nothing to do with it!

My point is this. It doesn't matter if you are famous or not. It doesn't stop you communicating in a civil manner with anyone, an ethic you stand by. I can understand a certain wariness for fear of obsessed fans and such like bit surely it's par for the course.

You enjoy what you do. You are good at what you do. You can take comfort in the fact that you are a decent human being.

I sincerely hope that Judy gives you a stern talking to along with a bit of finger wagging. So dust yourself off and Twitter away in only the way you can!

As a parting shot, it's worth bearing in mind that I'm sure the fans who vilify you for having a dig at Mr Andre have probably never even had an RT from him let alone claimto have him as a lovely follower!!

Much luv


Joby said...

Uncle Dick.

Don't leave me stranded on 2-0. This means I have no reason to live :( (well apart from my beautiful wife and daughter, but thats beside the point).

And your right... Clarksons bum rape should have been front page of the Daily Mail! I'll go downstairs and have a word with them right now.

dabrah said...

Please don't quit,
You're funny when you twit-
ter and make me smile
for quite a while

And your blog is entertaining too
The blogosphere would be poorer without you :)

sheringham said...

Dear uncle Dick

Please don't quit. My world would be a duller, more boring place without you. It seems from your latest entry you are having a rough time right now. I hope thongs get better soon. Xx

Anonymous said...

Your decision to step off the tumbril of fame for a spell is a wise one, Madeley.

I did the same thing after my reality show "Me and my Hemorrhoids" took such a hammering from the critics. Haven't regretted it for a second.... look at me now!

Come to think of it, I think you and the missus were somewhat less than complimentary about it. I'm preparing myself to forgive you though.

By the way, thanks for the squirrel recipe.... A triumph!

@LucySofiano said...

Uncle Dick I'm distressesd and disturbed by your tangled thoughts.
Its admirable that you follow more people than you are followed by. I'm not for massaging a celebrity's ego by following them and then basking in the glory of their publicist manufactured ramblings. (Except I did have to take a peak at Peter Andre following your expose and I'm sure he writes his jangled tweets himself. No publicist would ever be able to step foot into Soho house again if they mastered up his tripe.)
I dip in and out of this blog but your presence on Twitter is what keeps me giggling all day long. Genius use of 140 characters.
I'm still in debate as to whether you are the 'real' Richard Madeley - it doesn't matter whether you are or not - the inner workings of your mind are gold dust.
My husband and I had also considered (over a pint, natch)that Twitter was your tool to convince the publishing houses that a 'Richard Madeley Appreciation Society' bumper hard back book would be just the thing to stick up on the shelves of Waterstones, next to Alan Carr this Christmas. I'd buy one!
So there, I've done enough massaging of your celebrity ego. So from a humble member of the general public please stay tweeting and blogging! x

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

Ah, Lucy! Words that bring tears to my eyes. I grow tired of Twittering because not everybody appreciates me. Rusty Rockets has half a million following him babbling nosense. I try to achieve art within 140 characters and not a book contract in miles... I've been saying a bumper RMAS annual would sell hundreds of copies, if not thousands, but there are no publishers beating down my door.

Your kind words will keep me going. Sometimes I only hear the echoes of my own lonely voice when I Twitter. It's reassuring to know that somebody is listening. ;o)

Anonymous said...

Rusty Rockets has never, ever, been funny.

Not once.

Uncle Dick Madeley said...

No, but in all fairness, he does sound mildly Elizabethan. Forsooth.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for loading me up with the mind movie of Rusty Rockets as Sir Francis Drake.