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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

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Dinosaurs don’t Twitter well, their claws catch on the keys

An old friend popped up on my phone the other day, to offer a cheery hello. It was a long-time-no-see kind of greeting. And they are always welcome.

“I live in two places now,” she said. “Brussles (sic), and Twitter.”

Funny thing, that – well two funny things, to be absolutely honest.

I know she can spell Brussels, not only because she lives there but also because she’s a journalist of some long years standing.

She was an editor, no less, before she upped sticks and followed her husband to his swanky new Euro job. So, I know she can spell Brussels. You can’t be a swanky Euroman’s wife without being able to spell your address.

Ha, I thought with more than a little smugness. This must be the Twitter effect.

Spelling doesn’t matter on what has oddly become known as the social networking media (though I can think of nothing more anti-social – apart from kicking beer cans down the street and shouting at old ladies until they cry).

Doing things the right way doesn’t apply, even to professional wordsmiths, when a screen and keypad come into play. I’m going to have to watch that.

Yes, I’ve been pushed onto Twitter. Against my better nature and in contrast to everything I hold dear, I’ve joined a club of which Stephen Fry is a member.

Oh dear. Not forced, you understand. I wasn’t bullied. Not even strongly encouraged. But persuaded.

Yes, that’s the word. Persuaded – grudgingly.

There comes a time in every opinionated existence when resistance is finally futile. Argument redundant.

When everyone you know is a Twit. When you’re the only one not sharing nonsense with strangers... when the only way you can chat with your neglectful brother is to follow him on Twitter. It’s over.

I was persuaded – grudgingly – that the mountain had no intention of coming to Mohammed. So I joined the Twitterati.

It was possibly my profile as a “generally gobby woman” that caught Nic’s eye in Brussels.

“You? Gobby?? Never???”

Yes, that must have been what did it. She knows me quite well. From way back. And I’ve always been gobby.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her I wasn’t happy with my new membership of the antisocial media set – she’s an extremely prolific tweeter. And I hesitated asking for her phone number, so I could call, or her address. Phone calls and letters are for dinosaurs. Not at all in the spirit of modernity, with its arm’s length contact and anonymous communication.

But oddly enough, on the same evening Nic tweeted from Brussles England’s chief inspector of schools sounded off about grim standards of literacy.

In simple terms, his point was that our children and young people can’t read and write their own language adequately – never mind expertly, like natives.

Hmm, I thought for a second time that night. This could well be down to the Twitter effect too.

But perhaps I would say that. Dinosaurs do have a tendency to dwell on all that has been loved and lost. Like pen friends and love letters; greetings and gossip, fleshed out beyond 140 characters; the smell and feel of new books – real ones with turning pages – face-to-face conversations; correct spelling and a deserved respect, nay reverence, for the poor, beleaguered apostrophe.

How I do worry for the apostrophe. My fear is that I may already be in a minority and that the once-beloved creature – so specifically expressive – could now be an endangered species, like the panda and the dictionary.

Ho-hum. Time marches on. In the fleeting peep of a tweet, everything changes – even that which stays the same.

Will I fully embrace my new relationship with antisocial media? Possibly not soon. Dinosaurs take a little longer.

But I will keep an eye on the spelling.

Follow Anne on Twitter at www.twitter.com/annepickles

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