Monday, 19 September 2011

How Twitter Changed my Life

OK, now this will probably seem quite a bizarre thing to write about, but considering the things I've been reading of late, the things I've just read, I feel I'm going to have to explain (plus a post about Twitter has been coming up since I started this blog a few days ago).

Twitter might seem like the perfect time-wasting medium. So much so that I'd actually shunned it for quite a long time, feeling that it was a completely useless idea of senseless chatter, people talking about nonsense stuff (which I get enough of on Facebook). Well, that was until about a month ago.

I remember the day it all changed, remember it in quite vivid detail, in fact. It was the afternoon of Thursday 18 August 2011 (literally a month ago yesterday). I'd let the cat out, as I'd started doing just a week before (he was 2 last week, but we didn't trust him outside until we'd had him castrated (or should that be "cat"strated for cats?)). Ahem, anyway. So... I'd let the cat out. He wouldn't come back in. It was about 4pm at this time, getting really dark with a storm coming along. I'd been feeling generally low that day, so it was essentially the icing on the cake for me - the cat ignoring me. The one person/thing I could still rely upon, and he was ignoring my calls, hissing at me when I tried to get him down off the fence.

I'd been trying to call him in for hours, but at around 4pm-ish I gave up. I had left the back door wide open and I just sat down on the ground, hearing the first rumblings of the storm coming along. It was at this point that I sent a text to everyone I could think of that I could trust in some way or another, saying something along the lines of that I was going to get wet. Then the rain came. I stayed there, sitting out on the decking at the back of the garden, crying my eyes out, thinking that I'd been abandoned completely as I'd only had a reply from Vincent within the first 10 mins of sitting there (10 mins is an eternity when you're caught up in that blackness). I must have been sitting out there for half an hour in the end when I finally saw the cat sitting on the fence. I called to him again, desperately. He jumped down onto the decking beside me, and ran straight inside! I thought something along the lines of, "bloody bastard!" and got up, shocked, and walked inside.

When I got inside, I luckily did the very sensible thing of taking off my wet clothes and putting on my bath robe. I then found that my internet, telephone and TV were completely out, with my phone dying. So, I played Civ IV on my computer, just to keep my brain mind-numbingly occupied. Vincent called, saying he was on his way, but shortly afterwards my phone died. It took me about 1/2 hour after my phone died to put it on charge, desperate at that point for some contact with the outside world, especially as Vincent was extremely late at that point and I had no idea what had happened (and he'd charged me with the duty of putting the oven on for pizzas that he was going to buy).

So, phone on charge. Vincent is late because his train was late so he'd missed the bus and was waiting for a lift. I'm frustrated as I'd put the oven on, expecting him home! Not a good addition to an already stress-filled day (mostly of my own making). Then Vincent gets in, I explain what's happened, and... Somehow we end up arguing. I can't remember if it was before or after the pizzas, before or after he'd called Telenet to find out what was going on, but... It led to me taking off my robe and walking out into the rain, naked apart from my glasses and slippers (I didn't want the robe to get wet as well). I was in tears and sat down on the planking. Vincent eventually managed to talk me back in. I also, not long afterwards, received a couple of text replies, which helped me to feel not so alone after all.

What I remember most about that storm was how scary it was. Now I assumed it was because I was mostly out of it at the time, but I know that it wasn't. Part of the reason that I know that it wasn't was because, when my internet finally returned at about 10pm, I heard what had happened in Hasselt, at Pukkelpop. My immediate reaction was one of shock - there was me, so caught up in my own emotions, whilst people were out there with real problems, some dying. I read tons of news reports that evening and eventually, after hearing about this thing on Twitter going on, #Hasselthelpt, I decided to join Twitter and see if I could be of any service (remembering how people had pulled together over the UK riots).

Well the intriguing thing about it is this - whilst I couldn't really help out in the end, it did lead me to meeting some interesting people, including one of the few Doctor Who fans here in Belgium! So, what did I get out of a bizarre, disturbing, and tragic day? Well, more friends, a very intriguing network, and... Finding out that Twitter isn't so useless after all!

The crazy thing is I've not just found like-minded people in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy worlds (fellow geeks), but have also found some interesting people with similar mental-health conditions. Twitter has opened up my world in ways I would have never thought possible. Yes, on the one hand, I do spend way too much time on there some days, especially on the days when I'm feeling down. But on the other hand, I've found so many great people to talk to, so many who understand various parts of me.

So, don't knock it 'til you've tried it! I, above anyone else, should know that already! Life is all about the experiences, the interactions, no matter what direction they come from. If it keeps you on the safe side of the sanity line, then it has to be OK, right? Right??!

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