I signed up to Twitter a year ago today.
I remember doing it. I was sat on the hardest seat in the world in the hospital canteen whilst my mum was asleep hearing piped songs of cheer and smelling melted plastic wrapped food.
I remember I signed up simply for the fear of the fact that I just didn't understand it.
I had no idea it would change my world. I am aware of how ridiculously over dramatic that sounds, but it really has.
I've laughed with people on here, I've cried with people on here, I've been genuinely happy at people's news and really wanted to help people through some hard times. I've spread rumours, news, photographs, pleas and giggles.
It is using this strange website that I have learnt to find my feet again through some really tough months. I won't bang on it all again, but the support I received throughout my mum's death was astounding. From people sending messages of support and comfort, through to linking me in to important political stories when I could barely read, through to people telling me their stories of giving blood. I don't have words to express how much that meant, but you moved me to believe in humanity again when I was startled by the world. And in this day and age that's no small feat.
There is a longer version of that early part of the story here for those of you who wish for more details:
Sometimes I look at the number of tweets I have posted with horror. I try to convince myself that at least a third of them is me saying thank you to people, a third of them is retweets of people funnier than me, which leaves me one ninth photographs of other people's talented work, one ninth political ranty pants and one ninth cheap jokes. I think that's a fair personality diagnosis.
When I entered this playground I did it anonymously and told no one - I just started typing. In my real life, I started up my business when I was 18. My whole adult life I have never had the freedom to completely speak my mind as I have always had to be slightly aware of how that reflects on my company. Who could have imagined my uncensored self and my running Benny Hillesque dialogue would be so much more popular than the toned town version I had spent the last thirty odd years trying to work out how to rein in.
One of the strangest things about Twitter I never would have expected, is that it is the first time I have ever been able to take a compliment. People have no reason to follow me unless they find what I am typing interesting or funny. I can't be oh so terribly British about it and find a million brush offs as to why that couldn't possibly be the case; I type some words, they go all the way to space and back, and sometimes, they cause the corners of peoples mouths to raise - how completely bonkers is that?
So I thought on my self nominated second birthday I get to do what I want, and that is to elaborate on my first mass thank off. There are brilliant people I follow and lots of them. Sometimes too many in fact. When I remember I am meant to be running a business and doing things other than type to strangers on the internet, I have a list called "Essentials" of folk on here who are just that. They are people who no matter what else is going on, I choose to read every day. You don't have to follow them , but they are the key people that make Twitter a place I come back to every day. Allow me to elaborate:
Funny, political, left on, spot on and all round tall egg. Bloody nice chap, you can smell it a mile off. Matt tweets so perfectly like one of those friends you wish you had in reality, I think I might have made him up.
If you need your faith restored in journalists, Simon is the chap for you. On the case and intelligent. You will always hear a good thread through him, without the bullshit; and he makes me think. When Twitter leaps on a bandwagon, I often find it is Simon who is the first to fold his arms. But more than that, he's a witty bugger too.
If I had to get all of my news from one source, would it be the BBC? Or Al Jazeera? No. It would be Tamsin. She reads the whole of the internet every single day, sifts out the irrelevance and feeds back to us in handy digestible chucks This lady's capacity to find articles on nearly every issue of every day astounds me. I think she is magic.
I am not even sure I need to tell you how funny I find Glen. I retweet him so much you are bound to find lots of him in your timeline anyway, but he is a Twitter treasure chest. Not only funny but someone has been a real gent when I've stumbled over a few times. If Twitter were measured on smile ratings, Glen would have won twice.
Rude crude, inappropriate, sordid and sometimes cheap, I knew Adam and I were likely to get on. He might well post some of the funniest one liners you will be horrified you laughed at. And I he once told me "we share no cultural capital".
Common sense talking, dry, witty, silly nit wit. He makes me laugh, he has his finger on the pulse of all things the youth care about. He is a breath of fresh air for political ranters. At times when I have been sad or grumpy he has pretended to fall off his chair because he guessed (correctly) it would make me laugh. What more could you want from Twitter?
Official tests show that Elliot of one the most under followed funny men on Twitter. A manly sausage roll eating, beer drinking softie who is funny as most of Twitter put together. And penner of one of my favourite tweets of all time: "I think I have a man crush on Professor Brian Cox. Come on Professor, bum me and teach me about the universe."
Silly scribbler extrordinaire. An absolute joy in my time line. One liner wonder, a mind filled with kids TV shows and robots. There is rarely a tweet sent from this typing dog that does not make me giggle. Need proof? During the royal wedding, when Twitter was talking about what things people had on their heads, he made this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcMYi9P6DR4
A genuinely funny, funny man. A fine example of Twitter at it's best. He fills my timeline with thing's I wish I'd been funny enough to say. I shall never be that funny. I would be extremely surprised if Keith Chegwin does not at least have him on a list, if not a hard drive. Read him, he's a cracker.
A giant wit, silly and talent. I have heard many people say Moose is one of Twitter's finest, but he is also an incredible artist. The equation is simple, the more of his amazing work you buy, the more time he gets to spend on here entertaining us all. Looky here: http://www.worldofmoose.com/
There may be some of you foolish not following Matt. This means you may never have had an evening of #drunkmatt in your timeline, and for this you have only yourself to blame. He's rather funny when he is sober too. He took a break* recently, they did tests and Twitter was 17% less fun without him.
Twitter royalty. Dolly has a turn of phrase that could wilt concrete. Her observations of her daily doings are finely chiseled lumps of rock she is preventing herself throwing at her colleagues and people on public transport, by sharing with us, the group. She's not all wrath, she is also fabulously funny.
The Godfather of twitter. When people ask if Twitter is just a whole load of celebrities talking about their breakfast, I defy you to not be able to tempt them in with TruthSandwich's stream of unconsciousness. A master craftsman at a turn of phrase. He is brilliant and banter with him is nothing but a pleasure. True Twitter gold.
Also on this list are two wonderful luddites @subvertiser who gets a mention for making my journey's around London more fun with his own bread of billboard doctoring and naughtiness. Utterly rubbish at Twitter, but worth following for the occasional gems dropped in the street; and the wonderful @markthomasinfo, the kind of friend I drew with crayons when I was a kid. I'd sing his praises more, but he'll only complain more of this was not about him. He's not only worth a follow but go and see his shows too.
These are the people I am really very grateful to Twitter for bringing into my days. I constantly wrestle with trying to keep the number of people I follow under a self imposed limit. I nearly always fail. I have started using lists. I would happily spend nearly all day on here dicking around and rarely talking to anyone. Addicted is not the word. Sometimes my flatmate asks how HeardinLondon's day was and we discuss it in third person.
Thank you, really, I think you are bloody brilliant. I'd say I can't imagine my days without you lot, but I can, and it's simply not as much fun.
I'm off to try and make my real life as much fun as HeardinLondon's, now.
I'll be back shortly, with too many photos.