'There is a song that my wife likes to sing to our daughter that contains the line 'Let's start at the very beginning, that's a very good place to start." So I will do. Please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Vincent Shaw. By day I work for a motor insurance company in the United Kingdom, by night I am a freelance writer working my way through the under paid minefield of the writing industry. Twenty four hours a day though I am on Twitter.
In my mind Twitter is a wonderful website, a gloriously simple idea that is as addictive as it is easy to use. Simply log yourself in, give yourself a short biography and away you go. type almost anything you want within 140 characters. Of course there are the hashtag subjects, @-people (is @ing a word? Give Twitter a year or two and I am sure it will be), but the general idea of typing out a short message and allowing the whole world to see it is a beautiful concept.
It is the idea of limiting the message to just 140 characters that appeals most to me. It allows me to develop ideas over a course of three or four separate Tweets. Maybe for other people the limited capacity of a Tweet is appealing for other reasons, perhaps for young people it is brilliant because they will struggle to concentrate on anything longer than three paragraphs without complaining that it is just not fair to read something quite so long. For our long haired hippy friends the 140 character limited is 'groovy man' (sorry, couldn't resist) because you do not need too many words to proclaim one's love for absolutely everything. For me, it is because I get to have a constant flow of ideas. A sort of stream of consciousness as I move from one Tweet to another.
I log onto the site mainly during the early morning and evening rush hours to and from work. I start work at 9am and finish at 5pm, it takes me at least fifty minutes to complete each journey so I need something to pass the time. There is only so much staring out of a window that one can do.
'Why not try reading?" I can hear you all asking.
Well, I have tried to, still do, but when you are on the packed commuter bus from Manchester and struggling to turn the pages on the bus because the person sat next to you just has to have their elbow carefully positioned near your chin there are occasions when reading that tome you have in your satchel is not really practical.
I am not a massive music fan so listening to the same six or seven albums over and over and over again while my bus trundles along the same road doing the same journey day in, day out. It would be like Groundhog Day with a rock and roll soundtrack.
So what can pass the time? Facebook? Not really. Talking to people who I have spent all day talking to does not really appeal to me. I could phone people up and speak to them but have you ever been on a bus when someone close by is talking on the phone? If you have then I do not need to expand on why it is a big no-no. So what does one do?
Step up Twitter.
I can gaze out the window, spot something and post it on Twitter straight away. From there I can post another Tweet that relates to the previous one, a further Tweet expands upon that and so on. I can let my mind wander, give my imagination completely free reign and there is nothing more relaxing than that.
It is like a computerized jotter. A notepad for the 21st century. A place to exercise my imagination and let it travel freely without any constraints other than the number of characters contained within the Tweet but it is that limit that helps me most. Within 140 characters I cannot spoil an idea by over-thinking. I have an idea, I Tweet it, expand upon it and move on. If I find that idea is a good one it may well find its way into a full article. If it isn't then I still had fun initially.
If you have not tried Twitter, please do, it is so much fun and friendlier than Facebook that just seems to be a haven for bullying and outright nastiness. Try out your ideas on there; you will discover that the character limit is no such thing. It is the site's great strength and allows a flow like no other. While you are at it you could follow me, my twitter ID is @TheShaw2009 and I apologise in advance for the surreal nature of my Tweets but if they seem a little bizarre please bear with me. I will be making the commute to or from work and thinking happy thoughts.'