September means the return to nursery/school/college/University after the summer break. This also means many people returning to work after the frantic holiday season. What do the British press refer to the months of July and August – I believe the phrase is ‘silly season’ This first official week back saw me back in the office on Monday morning to catch up with colleagues in person. Little did I know what else the week had in store (please note this blog has been posted at 11pm on Wednesday 7th September – which may or may not be historically relevant in the future – near or far!)
I follow a variety of so-called famous people on Twitter (with varying levels of so-called fame!) but in my opinion, the list should be dynamic and not fixed and I make it a habit to review the accounts I am following on a regular basis (perhaps three times a year).
Readers – let me first set the scene – I am always keeping an eye on the zeitgeist via the microblogging platform. I noticed a tweet from BBC Radio 5 Live presenter, DJ and author Nihal Arthanayake and felt urged to respond. For context here is the initial tweet I attempted to respond to. Screenshots were added for those not on the platform to give full context to this important blog post.
Below is the tweet I sent out to the interweb with a firmly touch-in-cheek response. My intention was not to incite violence and bring back 18th-century public punishment. It was more an observation of what should happen when anybody criticises one of the nicest guys in the country. Of course, no computer algorithm can truly understand ‘context’ and instead will ban the end user based on them potentially inciting violence against a BBC radio presenter and one of the most trusted people in the Kingdom.
I openly admit my attempt at humour in response may not have quite found an audience but I felt the tweet was valid and worth posting. (People post much worse without reprimand). In my opinion, a relatively innocent tweet to Nihal from BBC Radio 5 Live and Money Saving Expert and national treasure Martin Lewis yesterday afternoon resulted in me being suspended from Twitter for 12 hours. My access was restricted to read-only mode. I was able to send DMs (not that I partake in such activities) but was not able to interact with the service, merely reading tweets.
So who came to my support in my time of dire need? Well, my dearest (and oldest – in terms of friendship length rather than his advanced years) Dave Jones. Person I had introduced to the platform in 2007 and actually helped him set up his first personal profile.
Even my Uni friend Sippy offered to contact Twitter and promise them I would not break the rules again to ensure my account was reinstated. His offer was quickly rescinded when he realised I was not banned for life (like number 45) but just a temporary suspension for twelve hours.
Have I learnt my lesson – probably – my tweets have been protected for over 11 years, even though I joined the service as an early adopter back in May 2008. The main reason for this additional level of privacy is the modern disease of lazy journalism. Should I ever be involved in a major news story (highly unlikely but you never know) it will not be possible for my timeline to be scraped to build up a profile as either villain or hero. For the so-called journalist and their platform to create a ‘story’ based on my history of 140 characters of the brain dumps out to the interweb (280 characters since November 2017). I generally am careful about what I tweet – spending a great deal of time ensuring they are grammatically correct. I am known to have deleted tweets where the spelling or grammar is incorrect or extremely poor. Considering some of the other tweets I have sent out over the years – to a total of 25.5k at the last count I am sure I have been close to breaking the rules before but perhaps the algorithms have improved over the years. You can read five other posts tagged with Twitter. Being banned for even 12 hours was mildly frustrating as there were plenty of posts I wanted to like, retweet and ‘interact’ with but that moment is now lost forever. However, in the grand scheme of things and with all the other challenges people are facing, it was a minor inconvenience. One will put it down to experience. Somebody once said, do not put anything out on social media you would not be comfortable sharing out loud (or is that reading out loud) to your Mother.